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Oilers feature U of A goalie during final moments of Saturday's Blackhawks win

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A University of Alberta Golden Bears hockey goalie was doing homework Saturday night when he got the call that he would dress as the Oilers' backup.

Twenty-five-year-old Matt Berlin, born in Edmonton, was supposed to watch the Edmonton Oilers and Chicago Blackhawks game from the press box.

As the emergency goalie for the Oilers, the plan was changed around 4:30 p.m. after Stuart Skinner was ruled out because of illness, and it was too late for the team to prep another regular goaltender.

"I just couldn't believe it," Berlin told CTV News Edmonton. "I called my mom, my girlfriend, saying you guys won't believe what's going on."

He rushed over to Rogers Place and got to meet the team, with Captain Connor McDavid being the first player to welcome him onboard.

"He was talking to me a lot through the night," Berlin added. "Same with Leon [Draisaitl]. They are both super, super nice."

"It was incredible to be around them and seeing them play at ice level is different than seeing them play in the stands."

Berlin then got the tap on his should around the seven to 10-minute mark of the third period to get ready to play.

"I thought they were joking," he recounted.

With the Oilers leading 7-3, Berlin then got to play in net for the final 2:26 seconds. He was greeted with a standing ovation.

"I stepped on the ice and I was just like, okay, let's enjoy this and soak in the moment," Berlin said.

Berlin is now the eighth Golden Bear to play in an NHL game with the Oilers.

Rogers Place erupted in cheers after he made his first NHL save on a shot by Blackhawk Caleb Jones. Berlin called it a "pretty routine point shot."

"I was pretty excited about it," he added. "It all worked out great."

'A TESTAMENT TO OUR PROGRAM'

Ian Herbers, Golden Bears hockey head coach, was proud Berlin was able to contribute to the Oilers game and show off the quality behind the university's hockey program.

He was also grateful to the Oilers for giving the young hockey player the chance to live out his dreams.

"Usually, those guys are sitting up in the bleachers up in the press box watching the game," Herbers added.

"So for him to have that chance… to just be in that atmosphere," he said, "and then go on the ice for warmup and take shots from those guys in two-on-one situations, that's something you are telling your grandchildren."

Golden Bears captain Matt Fonteyne said the whole team was incredibly excited to see Berlin play.

"It's just a testament to our program," Fonteyne said. "A quality guy like him getting the opportunity to shine, and that's exactly what he did."

Matt Berlin was all smiles at the Golden Bears hockey morning practice on Monday, Jan. 30, 2022 (CTV News Edmonton/Nahreman Issa).

The team was on a high at practice Monday morning, the captain added, still celebrating Berlin's achievement.

"Whenever you see somebody on your team do something individually, that's positive for him," he said.

"We can band behind that and kind of take off his positive motivation and positive energy off the ice and bring it into our practices and onto the ice." 

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Nahreman Issa

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