The 32-year-old goaltender and former Truro Bearcat was busy practicing with his team in Germany when he got a phone call on Tuesday. He was asked to cross the border into Switzerland and join Team Canada for the end of their Spengler Cup run.
Having never suited up for a national team before, Climie was thrilled at the chance to sit on the bench as an injury replacement.
But that’s not what ended up happening.
“It’s just one of those crazy things that happens in hockey,” Climie said via a crackling connection over a weak WiFi signal on Wednesday evening. “I didn’t expect it at all.”
For a small-town Alberta goalie who earned his keep playing Maritime junior A hockey before getting a cup of coffee in the National Hockey League, the unexpected is kind of the norm.
And so as he sat on the bench on Wednesday, with thousands of Canadians watching back home, he had a funny feeling he was going to have to actually play.
It was the semifinals, with Canada pitted up against tournament hosts HC Davos. The Canadian team, consisting mostly of former NHLers and grizzled veterans of the minor pro and European leagues, was looking for its first trip to the final since 2012.
“I had that feeling I could play,” Climie recalled. “They got the first two (goals) on us pretty quick, and then they scored one more later in the period. I figured one more and I was going in.”
Sure enough, starter Jeff Glass gave up another goal in the second period, putting Canada behind 4-1. The nod came from the coach.
“I just put on my helmet, glove and blocker, picked up my stick and went in the net.”
Just 22 seconds later, Lower Sackville’s James Sheppard made it 4-2. Two minutes later, Matt Ellison made it 4-3. Ellison scored again late in the frame to make it 4-4.
“We took over the game,” Climie said. “I just didn’t want to lose it for the team. I was taking it one shot at a time, just staying calm.”
Davos jumped ahead in the third period, when Perttu Lindgren beat Climie with a shot on a two-on-one. The 2003-2004 Maritime Junior Hockey League MVP shut the door from then on, however, stopping nine of 10 shots in the third.
Canada would come back once again, scoring two goals 1:05 apart in the final minutes of the game. Climie, an emergency call-up who was 434 kilometres away the night before, was the winning goalie.
As of Wednesday evening, Climie was unsure if he would get the start for Thursday’s championship game. Whether he does or not, it’s been a tremendous experience.
“If they want me to play, it would be a huge opportunity and a dream come true. If not, that’s fine too. It’s been a blast just to be here.”
Canada will play HC Lugano today, 7 a.m. Atlantic time and can be seen on TSN.
Current team: Straubing Tigers (Deutsche Eishockey League)
Pro resume: 5 NHL games (Dallas, Phoenix), 249 AHL games (Iowa/Texas, San Antonio, Chicago), 42 ECHL games (Idaho), 21 DEL games (Straubing).
Truro connection: traded from Bonnyville Pontiacs (AJHL) to the Truro Bearcats for $500 in 2002, played two seasons here and was league MVP in 2003-2004.
Quote: “It was a great experience in Truro. I had an absolute blast. We had good teams, good coaches. I couldn’t have asked for more.”