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‘Our backbone’: Adin Hill and the most improbable of postseason performances

Updated June 15, 2023 - 11:41 am

Adin Hill isn’t one of the original “Golden Misfits” that he flanked Tuesday inside T-Mobile Arena when starting lineups were announced before Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final.

But that doesn’t mean he wasn’t miscast, misevaluated or misfitting.

Hockey pucks aren’t the only thing the twice-traded Golden Knights goaltender can hold in the palm of his trapper.

Sellout crowds are tucked away in there, too.

Hill concluded the most improbable of postseason performances Tuesday, recording 32 saves in a series-clinching 9-3 victory over the Florida Panthers that stamped his status among local sporting icons.

A reserve for most the season and most of his six-year NHL career, the 27-year-old from Comox, British Columbia, replaced injured starter Laurent Brossoit 11:44 into Game 3 of the conference semifinals against the Edmonton Oilers — and wouldn’t cede his post between the pipes for the remainder of the playoffs.

By their end, no Knights player received more rousing cheers from the T-Mobile Arena faithful than Hill, who concluded the postseason 11-4 with a .932 save percentage and 2.17 goals-against average.

Plus several spectacular saves that served to stupefy the Panthers.

“Hilly was our backbone from the minute he came in in the Edmonton series. He was unbelievable,” Knights center Jack Eichel said after Game 5. “No different tonight. He made some huge saves. Can’t give that guy enough credit.”

Acquired in August for a fourth-round pick in the 2024 draft, Hill hadn’t played since March 7 against those same pesky Panthers he would go on to subdue.

He battled a lower-body injury that would cap him at 25 starts. That, after starting 63 games in the previous five seasons combined.

Logan Thompson manned the net more than Hill during the regular season before a lower body injury ended his campaign, paving the way for Brossoit to begin the postseason as the team’s starting goaltender.

But Hill never wavered, remaining ready when Brossoit exited versus the Oilers and maintaining his poise throughout the remainder of the playoffs.

“You’re always going to have bumps in the road. It’s just about sticking to your plan, not changing your thoughts or course of action and just keep working,” said Hill, a third-round draft pick in 2015 by the Arizona Coyotes.

“I’ve always kind of been able to stay even keel and put emotions aside to focus on what I have to focus on. It’s exciting, but you just try to stay in the moment.”

After Tuesday’s victory, Hill was mobbed by his teammates in celebration behind the net — making for one final moment before he hits unrestricted free agency. Each save seemingly made him more money this offseason and more memories he will carry into it.

And likely beyond.

“The second period, we just took over the game. It’s really incredible what this group of guys can do when we’re clicking,” Hill said. “I guess they all came to me. It was pretty surreal.”

Contact Sam Gordon at sgordon@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BySamGordon on Twitter.

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