DALLAS — You may have heard about Thomas Hodges by now. He's had a whirlwind of phone calls and texts and interview requests these past four days.
But in his first TV interview the Dallas "EBUG" is still trying to come down from the high of his sudden hockey fame.
"I'm a pretty nervous guy on a normal day," the 27-year-old insurance salesman for New York Life said from his home office at his McKinney apartment.
But last Friday, he admits was a bit more nervous Friday than most.
When NHL teams play, by rule they must have an emergency backup goalie in the building just in case either team needs one. Rarely used, the super-fan with at least some hockey experience sits in the arena. He is allowed to bring one guest with him for free, and simply enjoys the match.
Hodges is one of two EBUG's on call for the Dallas Stars, and last Friday he was filling in for the other guy.
"It's normally not that stressful of a situation," Hodges told WFAA.
"Would you call this Friday a stressful situation?" asked WFAA reporter Kevin Reece.
"Yes, I think it was fair to say I was a little stressed," laughed Hodges.
In the game against the Anaheim Ducks, Hodges' name was finally called. Entering the 3rd period the Ducks were out of healthy goalies. So, it was Hodges turn to take the ice.
"Did you ever take this job with the expectation it would ever actually happen?" asked Reece.
"No," Hodges laughed again. "But no, personally I didn't think it would ever happen."
He suited up in a Ducks jersey and a Stars helmet. They gave him the rookie honor of skating onto the ice alone.
"I didn't realize it until I was two-thirds of the way around and looking back that side of the ice that nobody had joined me. And I was hoping to goodness I hadn't made some mistake and gone out too early," he said.
The rest was a blur. He played most of the third period. One puck did get past him. He was defending for the Ducks, who were not playoff-bound anyway, and the playoff-bound Stars won 4-2.
But, Hodges was still greeted as a conquering hero when he got back to the Ducks locker room. They cheered and showered him with water bottles when he arrived.
"It was awesome," he said. "But, the water they sprayed though was the coldest water I have ever been in contact with in my entire life, I literally couldn't breathe."
"I think everybody knows I was about to have a panic attack," Hodges told the team in the locker room on Friday.
"But talking to you guys has made it so much easier so thanks so much for calming me down," he said, as the team cheered for him again.
"To have those guys show appreciation for me coming out and really trying for them, it meant a lot," he said.
Now, four days later and still coming down from the high of that Friday, Hodges has his souvenir puck and his number 68 Ducks jersey in his closet.
"It's probably the coolest piece of memorabilia I'm ever gonna [sic] have," he said.
That, along with the memories of one very cool night on the ice.
"I think once the panic of being in the media eye settles down a little bit I will look back on it as the best experience of my life," he said. "It's going to be a memory of a lifetime that's for sure."
But in the meantime, he'd love to sell you some insurance.