MISSISSAUGA, Ont. - Saint John Sea Dogs forward Tomas Jurco paid a steep price to help his hockey club on Tuesday night.
With the Sea Dogs trailing by a goal and less than 20 seconds remaining in regulation time, a Zack Phillips shot hit the Slovakian forward in the neck and got past Kootenay Ice goaltender Nathan Lieuwen. The goal, his second of the night, may not have been of the highlight variety but it was still one to remember.
"It hurts a little bit but it's not too bad," said Jurco following the Sea Dogs 5-4 overtime loss on Tuesday night, and added that it was likely the strangest goal he's ever scored. "It was just a lucky goal, I don't know what else I can say about it."
Jurco spoke to reporters with the lingering effects of his game-tying goal still showing thanks to a red mark on his neck just under his right ear.
"It didn't feel great but it wasn't bad," Jurco added. "I didn't worry about how it hurt because I had scored ... I think it's going to be a tough morning."
Jurco scored a pair of goals in the loss, giving him four in the tournament, tops among all players.
The two-point night also propels him into the tournament scoring lead with five points, one ahead a pair of his teammates in Saint John. Jonathan Huberdeau, who chipped in with an assist in the loss Tuesday, and Michael Kirkpatrick are tied for second in tournament scoring along with Owen Sound's Andrew Shaw and Mississauga St. Michael's Majors forward Devante Smith-Pelly.
"It's always a great feeling," said Jurco. "The player who scores the late goals, he feels more comfortable after and feels like he's important for the team."
Asked whether the goal would be among his highlight-reel goals, Jurco smiled.
"Probably not," Jurco replied. "Maybe (it will wind up on YouTube), I don't know."
Saint John coach Gerard Gallant worried about Jurco initially in the moments after the puck went in.
"It was a dangerous play," Gallant said. "I was scared. I thought he might have gotten it in the jaw and broke his jaw. Fortunately, he got it in the side of the neck."
Knoblauch said the Jurco goal wasn't the first time the team had a flukey goal tie things up on them.
"The (Jurco) goal reminded me of one of our playoff games against Saskatoon," Knoblauch said. "Saskatoon tied the game with less than a minute left on a goal that went off two skates and through our goaltenders legs. (Tuesday) was kind of like, 'Here we go again.'"
What's it like to play with a player of Jurco's talents?
"Tomas is extremely skilled and a lot of tricks," said Huberdeau. "He can do some tricks that you don't know what he's going to do out there. He has a lot of speed and brings a lot to the team."
And with the extra time off until they take the ice for the championship, who knows what Tomas Jurco will come up with for his encore.