Former Hawks, IceHogs goalie Glass stands in way of Wolves advancing
One year after making his NHL debut with the Blackhawks and then backing up Colin Delia during Rockford's run to the Calder Cup conference final, Jeff Glass' world has come full circle.
"Seems like it always does, right?" Glass said Thursday as he prepares to lead the San Diego Gulls against the Chicago Wolves in Game 1 of their best-of-seven series all Allstate Arena on Friday. "Couldn't be happier to be back here playing, and when I saw how it all lined up I was obviously thrilled."
The 33-year-old Glass played 15 games for coach Joel Quenneville last season, one of six goaltenders the Hawks used in the wake of Corey Crawford's injury. He also helped mentor Delia and watched the young goaltender go from a struggling first-year pro to a potential No. 1 netminder in the coming years.
"Most of the memories I'll cherish from my time here in Chicago is the relationships and friendships I made," Glass said. "There's a reason why they won so many Stanley Cups. There's some pretty special guys in that locker room."
Glass began this season on a Professional Tryout with Calgary and eventually signed with the Toronto Marlies. He was traded to the Gulls in December and ended up going 9-5-3 with an .897 save percentage and 3.10 goals-against average.
The Calgary native has stepped up his game in the postseason, though, posting a .920 save percentage and outlasting Bakersfield in a four-overtime marathon in Game 1 of the last series. Glass made 51 saves in what turned out to be the fifth-longest game in AHL history.
"I fell asleep watching their game in the second overtime," said Wolves coach Rocky Thompson. "Had to check it in the morning. That was something else."
Glass was supposed to get the next night off, but San Diego's backup got injured and Glass made 8 saves to lock down a 4-1 victory.
Glass' pro career began with the Binghamton Senators in 2005, but he opted to go to Russia in 2009 and spent seven seasons in the KHL. Last year, Glass admitted "there were a few dark and gloomy days over there" but he now appreciates how those seasons molded him into the player he is now.
And even though he'll be 34 in November, Glass isn't about to give up on his dream of playing in the NHL once again.
"I always laugh -- I feel like I'm just getting started," he said. "I learned a lot about myself (in Russia). It was really important for my development to get over there.
"When you come back you get to work with some really good goalie coaches and some top, top people. … I still feel I've got a lot of rubber left on the tires."
San Diego has three interesting connections with the Chicago area.
• Team captain Jaycob Megna grew up in Northbrook and played for the Glenview Stars, the Chicago Mission and Team Illinois. The defenseman played 28 games for the Anaheim Ducks and 38 for the Gulls this season. "I remember going to Wolves games as a kid and they were actually a hotter ticket at the time than the Blackhawks for a few years. Being in this building it's a pretty special feeling."
• Gulls coach Dallas Eakins won a Calder Cup with the Wolves in 2002 and a Turner Cup with the team in 2000. Eakins played 260 regular-season and 64 postseason games with the Wolves from 1998-2003.
• Leading scorer Sam Carrick (32 goals in 61 games) played 57 games for the Rockford IceHogs in 2016-17.
He said it:
"Coach Q's the best. I loved him. He treated me great and he was very fair, very open, very honest with me. I have nothing but good things to say."
-- Jeff Glass on what it was like playing for Joel Quenneville last season