Colin Zulianello got the phone call every hockey player dreams about.
The Augusta Lynx goalie was called up by the NHL's Phoenix Coyotes late Friday night to serve as the backup tonight on the road against the Columbus Blue Jackets. He is the first player in Lynx franchise history to go from the East Coast Hockey League straight to the NHL.
Zulianello, 24, received the good news from Lynx general manager Jim Burton about an hour after Augusta's 2-0 win over the Greenville Grrrowl on Friday.
The Thunder Bay, Ontario, native was out with Lynx defenseman Jay Leach when Burton called on Leach's cell phone.
"It was the best phone call I ever got in my life," said Zulianello by phone early this morning.
After Phoenix goalie Sean Burke reinjured his ankle, the team initially planned to recall former Lynx goalie Zac Bierk from Springfield of the American Hockey League.
Bierk could not get a flight out of Newfoundland, where Springfield was in town to play the St. John's Maple Leafs tonight. Next on the depth chart was Zulianello, who is 3-7-0 with a .896 save percentage in 11 games for Augusta.
Burton said he had a blast calling Zulianello with the news.
"I called to let him know he was called up and was supposed to fly out (of Augusta this morning) and would be arriving in Columbus (Ohio)," Burton said. "He thought he was going to (AHL Springfield), and he said to me the team is in Columbus?' And I said, yeah, they're (Phoenix) playing the Blue Jackets tomorrow night. He couldn't believe it. It was great."
BIG NUMBER: New Lynx forward Mike Legg made his debut Friday against Greenville wearing No. 91. He wore No. 19 with the Columbia Inferno, but that number is owned by forward Tyson Holly.
SIGNS OF THE TIMES: Wilkie had five large signs with inspirational messages made up and had them installed around the Lynx dressing room before Friday's game.
One quotation posted on the wall across from the door to the dressing room reads: "The price of excellence is discipline and the cost of mediocrity is disappointment." Another above one of doorways inside the room reads: "Whatever you do, don't do it halfway."
ONE-TIMERS: Goaltender Curtis Cruickshank is scheduled to undergo arthroscopic knee surgery on Tuesday. He is on the 7-day injured reserve and is expected to miss another week. ... The financially-troubled Ottawa Senators of the NHL failed to make payroll this week, but Lynx rookie forward Jeff Szwez, who is under contract with Ottawa's AHL affiliate in Binghamton, N.Y., said he already received his paycheck this week. "Already deposited in the bank," Szwez said. ... Columbus goalie Matus Kostur was suspended for three games by the ECHL on Friday for pushing a linesman in last Friday's 6-1 loss to the Lynx.
Reach Rob Mueller at (706) 823-3425.
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