BY: GARY AHUJA/BLACK PRESS
A childhood dream was fulfilled by Aldergrove’s Shea Theodore as the 20-year-old made his National Hockey League debut last week in Calgary.
Theodore was recalled by the Anaheim Ducks on Dec. 27 –the third time they had brought him up from the American Hockey League’s San Diego Gulls this season – but finally got his first taste of NHL regular season action in his team’s 1-0 victory over the Calgary Flames at Calgary’s Scotiabank Saddledome on Dec. 29.
The former Fraser Valley Thunderbird has since suited up for the Ducks against the Edmonton Oilers on Dec. 31, versus the Vancouver Canucks on Jan. 1, and against the Winnipeg Jets on Jan. 3.
“It was fun and fast,” Theodore said on the Ducks website. “It’s good to have a nice atmosphere like that for your first game.
“I played it simple (and) it helps when you have a defence partner like Clayton Stoner. He made things easy.”
Theodore played 15:45 in his debut. He finished with one shot on goal. His time has increased since, as he logged 19:28 against Winnipeg. Theodore has recorded seven shots in his four games, and has a plus-minus rating of plus one.
He began the season with San Diego but an injury over the weekend to the Ducks’ top defenceman, Cam Fowler, earned him the call-up.
Theodore was a first-round pick of the Ducks, who chose him 26th overall in the 2013 NHL entry draft.
Theodore said he was not expecting the call-up.
“A little bit of a surprise, but things have been going well (this season) in San Diego,” he told Black Press by phone on Monday.
His first phone call after he got the news was back home to his father Cam in Aldergrove.
“He was pretty pumped,” Theodore said.
Theodore joined the Ducks on Sunday night after San Diego’s game.
He practised with Anaheim on Monday before the team caught their flight to Calgary to begin a three-game Western Canada road trip. The Ducks were in Edmonton on New Year’s Eve before coming to Vancouver for a game against the Canucks at Rogers Arena on Jan. 1.
While there is no guarantee Theodore will play against Vancouver, he did say playing in his home province would be special.
“It would be nice to do that, but obviously you can’t get your hopes up,” he said.
“I am here to just try and get in the lineup and if I do, that’s great.”
“He’s played well (this season),” Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said prior to the Calgary game.
“He’s a very good quarterback of the power play. That’s been his strength his whole life.
“If he plays, I think he will do well.”
The six-foot-two, 195-pound defenceman is tied for fourth on the Gulls in scoring with four goals and 16 points in 27 games. Three of his goals have come on the power play.
This is his first full season of professional hockey after a stellar Western Hockey League career with the Seattle Thunderbirds which saw him score 58 goals and 212 points in 257 games. He was the WHL’s top defenceman in 2014/15.
Theodore was also on the Canadian team which won gold at last year’s world junior hockey championships.
He played 13 games at the AHL level last spring once his time with Seattle was done, scoring five goals and 14 points in 13 games.
It has been an adjustment, going from junior hockey to the professional level.
“The guys are bigger and stronger (at this level) but I feel like I am handling myself pretty well,” he said.
Theodore and the Ducks host the St. Louis Blues on Friday, and then the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday.