With his father

With his father

Father-son goaltending tandem make AHL history

46-year-old Dusty Imoo serves as the emergency backup goalie to his son, Jonah, in the latter's first-ever AHL start with the Ontario Reign



Nick Greenizan

Sports Reporter

A slew of injuries among Los Angeles Kings’ goaltenders led to a history-making netminding tandem for the club’s minor-league team Saturday – and provided an unforgettable moment for the Semiahmoo Peninsula’s father-son duo of Dusty and Jonah Imoo.

On Saturday, the Ontario Reign – a California-based American Hockey League squad – were set to square off at home against the San Jose Barracuda, but quickly found themselves in a pickle when starting goalie Jack Campbell was summoned to L.A. to serve as a backup goalie when one of the parent teams’ keepers, Jeff Zatkoff, was hurt in a morning practice.

The last-minute shuffle meant 22-year-old Jonah – with the Reign on a professional tryout contract – would made his AHL debut that night versus San Jose.

And with no backup goaltender in sight, the Reign tabbed 46-year-old Dusty – a goaltending consultant with the organization – to fill in on an emergency basis. It was the first father-son goaltending duo in league history.

Dusty was in L.A. working with the Kings at the time, and quickly made the hour-and-half drive through traffic to Ontario.

“As I was driving, I was thinking in my head that maybe I should push for them to try to find somebody else,” Dusty told Peace Arch News Monday.

“I didn’t want it to take away from Jonah, or distract him before his first start in the American Hockey League. But I spoke to my wife on the drive, and she said Jonah had already called her and was excited about it. It worked out, and it was pretty special.”

The commute allowed the proud father to soak up a lifetime’s worth of memories of watching his son play – from minor hockey all the way through the junior and minor-pro ranks.

Then, when he got to the rink, he saw two ‘Imoo’ jerseys – Jonah’s No. 35 and his No. 70 – hung up next to each other.

“Our stalls in the dressing room were right next to each other, so I was able to talk with him, help him get (prepared),” he said. “I’ve coached him my whole life, so I usually know what to say.”

Since Saturday, the father-son story has gained much attention, with the story popping up on so many Canadian and U.S. media channels that the Reign’s communications department told Peace Arch News that the pair were still “both slammed” with interview requests two days later.

Jonah made 26 stops in his first game with the Reign, though the team lost 5-4 in overtime.

“I think I was more nervous that he was,” Dusty said. “But I thought he played well. He made some big saves and he got us a point (in the standings).”

And though it had been a long time since Dusty suited up in a competitive game, donning the goalie pads was nothing new for the longtime Peninsula resident.

After a junior hockey career in the late 1980s that took him to Kelowna, New Westminster, Lethbridge and Regina, he bounced around the lower professional ranks in the U.S. before moving to Japan, where he played from 1994-2006, and suited up for Japan in the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano.

Since retiring, he has served as a goaltending coach for a number of organizations, including the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets, Seattle Thunderbirds of the Western Hockey League, his hometown Surrey Eagles and most recently, with the Kings.

For the younger Imoo, the day would have been exciting enough considering he was about to get his first start, and was only made more memorable when he found out who would be backing him up.

“I’ve been waiting for this opportunity for awhile, so it was a lot of fun,” he said in a post-game media scrum that was streamed live on the Reign’s Facebook page. “As far as my dad being on the bench, it’s hard to describe. It was actually relaxing, because he’s my dad – he knows exactly what to say to me. He’s been my goalie coach and my mentor my whole life.”

Upon hearing that he’d be starting – and then, that his dad would also be lacing up his skates – Jonah told the media post-game that he only told two people, his best friend and his mom.

“I didn’t want people to barrage me with texts. I didn’t really think about how crazy the situation was though, with my dad – it kind of blew up, and my phone hasn’t stopped vibrating since,” he said. “(My family) was really excited – just excited that I was even playing. But when they heard about my dad backing up, they couldn’t believe it.”

His mom, he explained, “just started laughing.”

“It’s just so bizarre, having both our last names side-by-side in the dressing room,” he continued.

“It’s really weird, but a really cool experience.”

The elder Imoo didn’t expect the father-son tandem to last long. Even during Saturday’s game, team management was scrambling for a more permanent solution to the team’s crease conundrum, he said.

“I don’t think they want a 46-year-old backup for too long,” he told reporters after Saturday’s game.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Anita Nielsen and a group of her neighbours argued last year that a proposed four-storey apartment building would destroy the historic character of Elm Street, as well as bringing increased traffic, blocking ocean views and causinge parking issues along the street and Beachview Avenue in White Rock. (File photo)
Elm Street OCP designation changed by White Rock council

Motion aimed at keeping historic pocket ‘as it is’

A woman crosses 176th Street in Cloverdale April 12, 2021. 176th will not host Cloverdale Market Days this year as the popular street fest is just the latest casualty in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo: Malin Jordan)
Cloverdale Market Days cancelled again

Organizer says popular street fest will return in 2022

Residents of 15156 Victoria Ave. say they’re at risk of losing their affordable housing, from left, Elizabeth Soper, Jack, Jane, Dan, Anthony. (Aaron Hinks photo)
White Rock tenants, landlord to go to RTB hearing over ‘renoviction’

Low-income tenants dispute claim they must relocate for work to be completed

Researchers say residents should leave sleeping bats alone while they exit hibernation. (Cathy Koot photo)
Spring ‘signal’ brings White Rock, Surrey bats out of hibernation

Community Bat Programs of BC says it’s best to leave sleeping bats alone

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as she walks past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Top doctor warns B.C.’s daily cases could reach 3,000 as COVID hospitalizations surge

There are more than 400 people in hospital, with 125 of them in ICU

Eight-year-old Piper and her family were raising money to help Guinevere, the bearded dragon, get a gynecological surgery. Sadly, the reptile didn’t survive the procedure. (Jackee Sullivan/Special to Langley Advance Times)
Lizard fails to survive surgery, GoFundMe dollars help Langley family offset medical bills

Guinevere, a pet bearded dragon, underwent an ovariectomy on Tuesday

A driver stopped by Saanich police following a road rage incident on April 15 was found to be impaired, in violation of a license restriction and in a damaged vehicle. They received a 90-day driving prohibition and a 30-day vehicle impound. (Saanich Police Traffic Safety Unit/Twitter)
Road rager fails breathalyzer on busy B.C. highway in vehicle he shouldn’t be driving

Saanich police say man was operating vehicle without required ignition lock

B.C. Premier John Horgan wears a protective face mask to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Premier John Horgan booked to get AstraZeneca shot Friday

‘Let’s show all British Columbians that the best vaccine is the one that’s available to you now,’ he said

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Doses of the Moderna COVID‑19 vaccine in a freezer trailer, to be transported to Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Canada’s incoming supply of Moderna vaccine slashed in half through end of April

Moderna plans to ship 650,000 doses of its vaccine to Canada by the end of the month, instead of the expected 1.2 million

Dr. Bonnie Henry speaks about the province’s COVID-19 vaccine plans during a news conference at the legislature in Victoria. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
P.1 variant likely highest in B.C. due to more testing for it: Dr. Henry

Overall, just under 60% of new daily cases in the province involve variants

The father of Aaliyah Rosa planted a tree and laid a plaque in her memory in 2018. (Langley Advance Times files)
Final witness will extend Langley child murder trial into May or June

Lengthy trial began last autumn with COVID and other factors forcing it to take longer than expected

A crossing guard stops traffic as students wearing face masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 arrive at Ecole Woodward Hill Elementary School, in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. A number of schools in the Fraser Health region, including Woodward Hill, have reported cases of the B.1.7.7 COVID-19 variant first detected in the U.K. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID-infected students in Lower Mainland schools transmitting to 1 to 2 others: data

Eight to 13 per cent of COVID cases among students in the Lower Mainland were acquired in schools, B.C. says

Most Read