Tom Draper drop-kicked a puck, barked out countless bits of advice to his teammates, wore his emotions on his sleeve, made spectacular saves and pumped new life into the Augusta Lynx this weekend.
And to think the former NHL goaltender has been called humdrum in the net.
"I've always been called - quote, unquote - a boring goalie," the 36-year-old veteran said. "But as I got older, I became a bit more animated."
Draper was more than just animated Sunday against the Greensboro Generals. He turned away all 31 shots he faced with an unflappable combination of acrobatic and routine saves as the Lynx pulled out a 1-0 shootout victory.
Mike Legg and Jim Shepherd beat Greensboro goalie Sebastien Centemo in the shootout, and Draper stopped all four shots he faced to improve to 6-4-1.
When the game was in the bag, no one on the ice was more fired up than the 17-year veteran Draper, who looked more like a 21-year-old rookie as he pumped his fists in the air and circled the ice to toss a T-shirt into the crowd as the game's No. 1 star.
"He's an emotional guy and he's fun to watch, and I think the guys feed off that," Lynx coach David Wilkie said. "He's like a third coach on the ice because he's been around the block a lot of times in his career. He was tremendous this weekend. He was a very big reason why we won these two hockey games."
With Saturday's win over Greenville and Sunday's hard-fought triumph over the talented Generals (32-18-6), the Lynx made a big move in the race for a playoff spot.
Combined with Greenville's shootout loss to Pee Dee on Sunday, the Lynx (20-32-4) are just four points behind the Grrrowl (21-29-6) for the fifth and final playoff berth in the Southeast Division with 16 games to play.
While the two wins were important for the Lynx, Draper said they also were crucial for his future with the club.
"Quite honestly, the way I approached the weekend was that we had to win both games to give us a chance to gain some ground," said Draper, who helped kill off a penalty in the first period by kicking the puck the length of the ice. "Had I lost both games, who knows? I might not be here tomorrow. We have five veterans and three goalies here. Who knows. If it didn't go well, maybe there's no point in paying a guy like me to stick around."
Draper's big weekend leaves Wilkie with a tough decision. Goalie Colin Zulianello rejoined the team Saturday from Springfield of the AHL, meaning the Lynx now have one too many netminders with Zulianello, Draper and Curtis Cruickshank.
Augusta also has one too many vets. With enforcer Jason Shmyr set to come off injured reserve next week, Wilkie must let one veteran go.
"I've got a lot to think about," Wilkie said. "But Draper gave us the kind of performance we need for our team to be successful."
Lynx 1, Generals 0, shootout
STAR OF THE GAME: Goalie Tom Draper recorded 31 saves in regulation and overtime, then stopped all four shootout chances to record his first shutout as a Lynx.
KEY PLAY: With the Lynx ahead 1-0 in the shootout, Draper stacked his pads to rob Greensboro's Bryan Richardson of a goal on the Generals' third attempt.
PLUS: Mike Legg and Jim Shepherd helped the Lynx secure the win with shootout goals.
PLUS: The improved Lynx penalty kill went 0-for-4 Sunday.
UP NEXT: Lynx at Greensboro Generals, Thursday, 7:05 p.m.
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