Someone pinch Ben Gleason right now, because he must feel like he’s dreaming.
Less than six months ago Gleason was in Regina, Saskatchewan, lamenting the end of his 2017-18 season. His Hamilton Bulldogs team had won the OHL championship in the middle of May, but were then upset in the semifinals of the Memorial Cup two weeks later by the hometown hosts, the Pats.
Undrafted and without an NHL or AHL contract to his name, his hockey future must have felt a little up in the air. The Bulldogs definitely would have been happy to have Gleason back for his OHL overage season. If you were to have asked him over the summer where he thought he would be come November, his answer probably would have been back in Hamilton.
Then the Dallas Stars came knocking with an invite to the annual Traverse City Prospect Tournament. Fast forward three months later, and he just made his NHL debut and scored his first NHL point.
Is this real life? Is this really happening?
It probably doesn’t fully feel like it yet for him, but this is indeed real life for Gleason.
He turned heads and dropped jaws in Traverse City, enough so to earn an entry-level contract from the Stars, who decided that they saw something special in Gleason and wanted to bring him into the fold. He joined the Stars for training camp and was then assigned to the AHL’s Texas Stars, where he suited up for 11 games and kept impressing the decision-makers within the organization.
When a rash of injuries hit Dallas’ blue line, Gleason’s name was one of the ones called to join the big club. He played 18 minutes in Saturday’s 5-4 overtime loss to Nashville.
Dallas Stars beat writer Mike Heika caught up with the 20-year-old defender on Sunday to get his thoughts on what surely feels like a whirlwind few months and how he’s doing:
“When I got to the rink, they said, `Welcome to the NHL, you’re playing today,’” Gleason said. “And I said, ‘Ohhh-kay, that sounds all right.’”
“I was pretty nervous, I felt like I didn’t feel my legs until the end of the second period,” Gleason said about his debut. “But I knew this league is very hard, and it’s hard to get a job here, and that’s what I’m working for.”
There wasn’t much time to let things soak in, as Gleason suited up for his second NHL game last night, clocking 13:56 of ice time. It wasn’t an overly eventful 13:56, but for an undrafted 20-year-old defender, even just keeping your head above water in an NHL game is one heck of an accomplishment.
He might be headed back down to the AHL soon when other players get healthy enough to play, but then again, the past three months for him have certainly been full of surprises, so anything is possible.
One thing is for certain, though: the Stars just found and added one promising young defenseman to their prospect system.
The Texas Stars rattled off back-to-back wins on Saturday and Sunday over their state rivals, the San Antonio Rampage. They won 8-1 in the former game and 4-2 in the latter.
There was no shortage of stat-padding in the two games. Denis Gurianov picked up a goal and an assist on Sunday after being reassigned to the AHL from Dallas, extending his team scoring lead to 14 points in 12 games. Roope Hintz scored a goal and three assists in two games, while Joel L’Esperance added a goal and two assists. Gavin Bayreuther returned to action on Saturday after missing a chunk of time due to a knee injury and didn’t miss a beat, scoring a goal and an assist. Goaltender Landon Bow earned the “W” in both games, making 30 saves on 31 shots in the first game and stopping 19 of 21 shots in the second.
North American Juniors
Riley Tufte had a huge game for the University of Minnesota-Duluth on Saturday, scoring a goal and two assists as UMD — the top team in the NCAA — extended their winning streak to eight games. The last two goals of the highlight video below are worth watching to see Tufte set up a gorgeous assist and blast home a missile of a one-timer.
Netminder Jake Oettinger stopped 17 of 19 shots to secure his second straight win with Boston University.
Hulking forward Curtis Douglas took a little while to get up to speed in his 2018-19 season, but he’s chugging along like a full-speed freight train right now. He scored a hat trick on Sunday afternoon, which bumped his little hot streak up to seven goals in his past six games.
HIGHLIGHTS presented by @FrankBrewingCo: Things are rolling, friends. Dougie natural hat-trick. Meeks with two more goals. Tyler Angle ripping. Mikey's unreal RN. Spits 7. @SpiritHockey 1. pic.twitter.com/CeBDZlX6jq— Windsor Spitfires (@SpitsHockey) November 12, 2018
Center Ty Dellandrea keeps producing and kept his impressive ongoing point streak alive, scoring four points in three contests to extend that streak to 10 games. He has 16 points in that span.
Riley Damiani picked up three points (two goals and a helper) in two games, all of which came in the same game on Friday. He also scored in the shootout that night, and was named the game’s first star for his efforts. Highlights of the game can be found at this link.
Brett Davis scored a goal and two assists over three games, bringing his season totals to 16 points in 17 games. His Kootenay team, however, is really cratering, dropping five games in a row. Their playoff hopes are already looking incredibly dim, so don’t be surprised if the rebuilding Ice trade Davis to a contending team looking to add some offensive punch.