A week after his 27th birthday, former Semiahmoo minor hockey product, Andrew Hammond got something that nobody could have gift wrapped.
The Vernon Vipers alumni earned his first NHL win, making 42 saves as the Ottawa Senators defeated the division-rival Montreal Canadiens 4-2. And now the speculation is he’ll start Saturday night vs Florida.
It was Hammond’s third NHL appearance but his first start.
He stopped all 13 Habs shots in the first, made 16 second-period saves and 13 more saves in the final frame.
Max Pacioretty beat him on a breakaway in the second to make it 1-1 and after Mark Stone scored what would be the winner midway through the third, Nathan Beaulieu was credited with the second Canadiens goal but that’s as close as they’d get.
Former Burnaby Express star Kyle Turris iced the game for Ottawa with an empty-netter with 1:31 to go.
Hammond might have made his best stop with six minutes left in the first when Habs sniper Pacioretty got in the clear.
“I think maybe the first save that kind of got me into the game was the Pacioretty breakaway in the first,” Hammond told NHL.com.
“That was really the first one that was kind of a reminder that you can do it, I guess. Obviously one of the best players in the League coming down on you and you stop him. That was the cool part of it.”
The White Rock, BC product was summoned from the American Hockey League’s Binghamton Senators on Jan. 29 and had to wait patiently to get his first start.
Ottawa head coach Dave Cameron told NHL.com Hammond’s work ethic in practice over the last 19 days earned him the respect of his teammates.
“When you see a goalie like that come up from the minors, and he’s been here for two-plus weeks, with all the shots he’s taken every day in practice … with everybody who stays out extra, he stands out there and helps out in whatever way he can … he’s a real easy guy to cheer for, and real excited for him,” said Cameron.
The win got the Sens back to the .500 mark and they’re now 23-23-10 on the season.
Hammmond – who began his junior-hockey career with the Westside Warriors – played 32 games for the Surrey Eagles during the 2007/08 season, before he was dealt to Vernon, where he helped lead the Vipers to a RBC Cup national championship before heading to the NCAA with Bowling Green State.
During his time in the BCHL with Surrey and Vernon, Hammond compiled a 48-30-2 record, .904 save percentage, a 2.74 goals-against average and eight shutouts.
In the RBC Cup-winning season of 2009 with Vernon, Hammond won the BCHL goaltending award for his 2.30 goals-against average. He went 27-12-1 that season and 12-5 in the playoffs.
Hammond has been in the Senators’ organization since 2013, when he signed with the club as a free agent, upon the completion of his career at Bowling Green State University.