(Photo: Bob Fina/Inside Hockey)
WICHITA FALLS, Texas – Former Wichita Falls Wildcat Cal Heeter made his National Hockey League debut on Sunday, appearing in net for the Philadelphia Flyers in their regular-season finale against the Carolina Hurricanes.
Heeter made 33 saves in a 6-5 shootout loss to Carolina in his first-career start, and is the first former-Wildcat goaltender to start in the NHL. “I’ve been working my whole life to get here,” Heeter said in post-game remarks. “To finally get the opportunity to play a game and have the support of management, coaches, players…it’s a dream come true. I had a great time.”
“I was fortunate to meet Cal when I first became involved with the team,” Wildcats part-owner Roy Davoult said. “Right away, you could tell he was a talented player and a special young man. I’m very proud and happy for Cal, and look forward to seeing more former Wildcats in the NHL.”
Playing for the Wildcats during the 2006-07 season, Heeter compiled a 13-13-1 record, 3.15 goals against average, and a .896 save percentage to lead Wichita Falls in all major goaltending statistics on the year.
Following his time in Wichita Falls, Heeter spent 2007-08 with the St. Louis Bandits, before matriculating at Ohio State University. In his four years with the Buckeyes, the St. Louis-native posted a 39-36-11 career record with a 2.58 GAA and a .915 save percentage. Heeter then split time between the Trenton Thunder (ECHL) and Adirondack Phantoms (AHL) over the past two seasons, before making his NHL debut on Sunday.
Heeter becomes the second former Wildcat to reach hockey’s highest level during the 2013-14 season, joining defenseman Zach Trotman (2008-09), who played in his first NHL game for the Boston Bruins on Dec. 28, 2013. Forward Dan Sexton (2005-06) became the first Wildcats alumnus to make his NHL debut when he skated for the Anaheim Ducks on Dec. 4, 2009.