Collin Delia started the season in the ECHL. Poorly.
In 10 games with the Indy Fuel, Delia lost nine times. He had an .887 save percentage and a 4.12 goals-against average. He gave up four goals three times, five goals twice and six goals in his last start with the team Nov. 25. During that time, he got one start with the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League, and that went poorly, too — four goals allowed on 16 shots.
On Thursday, though, Delia made his NHL debut with the Blackhawks, earning the victory in a 6-2 trouncing of the Jets. And while he left the game with cramps six minutes into the third period, he likely will be with the team for the last four games of the season after Anton Forsberg suffered a season-ending lower-body injury during his pregame warmup.
‘‘I know it’s a process,’’ Delia said. ‘‘I know things don’t come easy, especially at this level of the pro game. It’s a lot different than college, especially for a goalie. I think it’s good, though, to have some trials and tribulations. [Then] you can enjoy these moments that much more after being there. So it’s pretty special.’’
Delia began the season as the Hawks’ fifth-string goalie, and he became the fifth goalie to start for them this season. Corey Crawford has been out with a head injury since Christmas, Forsberg had been the new No. 1 and Jeff Glass and J-F Berube both had their runs as the backup. Now, after an impressive run in Rockford, it’s Delia’s turn. The Hawks recalled Berube after the game to join Delia on Friday in Colorado.
The 23-year-old Delia, who played at Merrimack College in Massachusetts, helped the IceHogs get back into the AHL playoff picture, allowing two or fewer goals in five of his last seven starts. In 24 AHL appearances overall, he was 14-6-4 with a .904 save percentage and a 2.68 GAA.
Delia grew up in Rancho Cucamonga, California, outside of Anaheim. Like so many other American boys, he tried his hand at baseball first.
‘‘My dad and my mom put me in T-ball initially,’’ he said. ‘‘I hit the ball off the tee and ran down the third-base line, and they said: ‘Maybe we should try another sport.’ ’’
That turned out to be roller hockey at age 4, and Delia quickly took to it.
He modeled his game after Ducks and Kings goalies through the years, from Guy Hebert and J-S Giguere to Jonas Hiller and Jonathan Quick. Now he has followed them into the NHL.
Leading the way
Defenseman Brent Seabrook played in his 1,000th regular-season game. Beloved in the dressing room, Seabrook has been a vocal leader since the start. He said it comes naturally to him.
‘‘I’ve just tried to be myself and do the things that I do,’’ he said. ‘‘I’ve never tried to be a leader. I’ve never forced trying to be a leader.
‘‘You know, I’m a loud guy. I try to be funny. You can ask some of the guys if I’m funny or not, I don’t know. Maybe annoying more than anything. And just loud.
‘‘There are lots of parts to being a leader. Whether it’s talking to guys or getting them up before a game or leading by example on the ice, there’s lots of ways you can lead.’’