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A Different Kind of Fantasy Hockey

Brett Leonhardt found himself living a dream on Friday night.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Every professional sports career begins with a dream. On a playground, baseball diamond or rink in Anytown, USA, Canada or elsewhere around the world, an aspiration is born and a journey begins.

For most, this aspiration ends after high school or college when our talent gets eclipsed by those truly talented, those born with the "gift."

After that point we turn our focus to more natural goals, never to see that long ago formed dream come to fruition.

That's what makes last week's story about Brett Leonhardt so amazing. For those who are unfamiliar with that name, Leonhardt is a web producer for the Washington Capitals who dressed as the team's backup goaltender for Friday night's game against the Ottawa Senators.

After Jose Theodore suffered an injury during the team's morning practice, the Capitals needed someone to backup Brent Johnson in that night's contest. The team recalled a goaltender from its AHL affiliate, but because the team was on a road trip, the goaltender would not arrive in time for the start of that evening's game.

"It was around one o'clock that (general manager) George McPhee kind of put his arm around me and said "Listen we're calling up a Simeon Varlamov from Hershey - he might not get here in time. We need you to just be ready. You might have to take warmup," Leonhardt told USA Today's Bob Kimball.

A few short hours later, it was official. Leonhardt, who played collegiately at Oswego State and Neumann College, got the call and found himself living a dream.

There he was taking pregame warmups with Alexander Ovechkin and Alexander Semin. Like something out of a Hollywood screenplay, Leonhardt's dream that had long ago vanished somehow came roaring back to life and became reality in the course of 12 hours on a Friday in December.

But as quickly as it began, it ended. Varlamov arrived in the middle of the second period, and by the time the final horn sounded on the evening, Leonhardt was back at his day job, as if nothing had happened.

Of course something did happen. Something that he'll never forget. Something that reminds us why sports are sometimes so great. Something that most only dream about on a playground, baseball diamond or a rink.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Tim Godfrey at tgodfrey@sportsnetwork.com.

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