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When A Man Named Tommy Cruz Wins A Hockey Game For The Golden Knights

It came less than three minutes into the 3rd period; a deflected Brayden McNabb pass was corraled by Tomas Hertl at the blue line. He was able to find Brent Burns who threw a hard centering pass that found Logan Couture. Couture one-timed it into the back of the net. Goal, Sharks. Their fourth straight in the game which gave them their first lead, 5-4.

But wait…

After reviewing all available replays and consulting with NHL Hockey Operations staff, the Referee determined that Donskoi prevented Subban from doing his job in his crease. -NHL Situation Room

What happened? Joonas Donskoi skated through the crease and made skate-to-skate contact as well as ran into the stick of goalie Malcolm Subban.

What really happened? Tommy Cruz.

The video coach Tommy Cruz looks at it. First, he checks for offsides then once he knows it’s an onside play then he is looking if a goal was scored, then he is looking for different options. I think one of the guys came back and said that he was twisting his stick and Tommy told Mike Kelly in the head set that it might be a challenge. We looked at it on the bench and saw it, then we all agreed to challenge it. Tommy Cruz picks it up and he has done a good job for us. -Gerard Gallant

After a goal is scored, Cruz has about 30 seconds to make a decision on whether or not to instruct Gallant to challenge the play. It’s a tough job and one that’s only done well by those with… the need for speed.

Cruz and the Golden Knights have challenged three goals. The first two attempts were unsuccessful (@NYR, @OTT), but the third time probably saved the game for the Golden Knights.

To have it challenged and go out way was a kind of sense of relief. To have those go your way I think sometimes it’s a good sense of karma. –Shea Theodore

Yeah, I just think it’s tough. A lot of it really is just judgment, there’s nothing really black and white. It goes for a lot of things, icings, it’s different every night. It’s a hard call for them and obviously, it can be tough on us, we don’t know. It’s just part of the game. -Brent Burns

We were fortunate, and it turned the game around for us for a little bit. We were on our heels a little bit, and they were coming at us. So, we got a break there. -Gallant

Tommy, should we do it?
YEP!!! (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The reversal brought the crowd (or at least the ones wearing grey and gold) back into the game and seemed to spark the Golden Knights a bit. They weren’t able to break the tie until overtime, but the challenge clearly changed the momentum of the game.

Vegas had allowed three straight and a fourth appeared to be on the board. It usually takes a goal, a save, a hit or a fight to get things back rolling when a team is struggling, but for the Golden Knights, who can’t seem to do much wrong nowadays, it was allowing a goal.

That’s only because they have Tommy Cruz though. The 22-year-old video coach who just five years ago got his start working at the Florida Panthers practice facility team store as a sales associate.

Now, Cruz is winning hockey games for the Vegas Golden Knights and probably planning a trip to George McPhee’s office with a quick four-word speech planned… show me the money.

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2 Comments

  1. Pete Landes

    Glad for the info on how things unfolded. We are in NY for Thanksgiving and have learned that the “great ” Long Island newspaper “Newsday” is only great for NHL sports coverage if you are a fan of the Islanders or the Rangers. It’s as if they are the only two teams that exist. Make’s us relish the coverage the Las Vegas Review Journal gives the Vegas
    Golden Knights

  2. Eric R

    Tommy was a teammate of mine when we went to USA Hockey Nationals as an AAA Bantam team representing Florida. He was one of our goalie dual sharing time with Austin Luboff. Its nice to know that he is still succeeding in hockey and using his goalie skills if only as an keen observer but making a difference in the game. He was a great personable individual and I am glad to see that he has made it his career since he has a lot of positive assets to give to the game of hockey !!!

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