94 saves, 5 OTs: Goalie says human body not meant for that
Alex Lyon of the Lehigh Valley Phantoms was up early as usual Thursday to take a walk and stop for a breakfast sandwich and his morning coffee.
The 25-year-old goalie was no worse for the wear a little over seven hours after he finished a 94-save performance in an American Hockey League playoff game in North Carolina that stretched to seven periods and 146 minutes, 48 seconds of play.
"This morning I'm feeling happy, obviously," he said. "The saves aren't as big a deal to me as us getting the win. To win after basically playing 2½ games is such an emotional ... oh, a relief. The human body wasn't meant to do that."
The Philadelphia Flyers' top farm club beat the host Charlotte Checkers 2-1 when Alex Krushelnyski scored 6:48 into the fifth overtime. The game began shortly after 7 p.m. Wednesday and ended at 1:09 a.m. Thursday, making it the longest game in the AHL's 82-year history.
Lyon, surprisingly, did not set a record. The AHL mark for most saves in a game belongs to Michael Leighton, who stopped 98 shots for the Albany River Rats in a 3-2, five-overtime loss to the Phantoms on April 24, 2008.
"Someone rubbed that in my face," Lyon said, laughing. "You think you're in the record book, and you're not."
The NHL record for saves is 92 by the Detroit Red Wings' Normie Smith in a 1-0 playoff win over the Montreal Maroons in 1936.
Lyon, who started seven games and appeared in 11 for the Flyers this season, stopped the last 79 shots while shutting out Charlotte over the final 119:56. Charlotte outshot Lehigh Valley 95-53, including 54-29 in the overtime periods.
Lyon lost count of how many water bottles he went through; normally he drinks at least eight in a regulation game. To keep their energy up, Lyon and his teammates drank Coke and ate cookies, brownies, fig bars and bread slices during the overtime intermissions.
He went through a range of emotions. At times he savored the atmosphere, especially the fast pace of regulation and the early part of the first overtime. But the game slowed, and he acknowledged getting irrationally frustrated as his teammates struggled to score. He also fought boredom.
"You're standing in the crease for so long," he said, "and you're seeing the same thing over and over again. It really blends together."
Lyon said his 94-save feat shouldn't overshadow the work of his teammates.
"I wish I could act like the warrior in this situation, but we had one of our defensemen go down with a knee injury halfway through the first period," he said. "So we were playing with five defensemen (instead of six), which is totally mind-blowing to me.
"At least I can try to recover and take a knee when the puck's down at the other end. Sometimes you go through four or five minutes of a lull where you're standing around. Five defensemen? It doesn't seem like a big deal to maybe a common fan. I'm sure you know it's so much more ice time, just so much more, so that was really impressive."
The Phantoms lead the Atlantic Division best-of-seven finals 3-1 over the Carolina Hurricanes' affiliate and, because of their five-overtime win, can wrap up the series Saturday.
"You put in so much effort and so much work," Lyons said, "that it's nice to come out with something to show for it."