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Man crashes Canadiens' practice with 'nothing to lose'

MONTREAL -- Canadiens goaltender Jose Theodore has stopped a
lot of shots in his day, but nothing like this: A stranger in
hockey equipment jumped on the ice during practice and shot a puck
at him.

"He couldn't beat me," Theodore said. "That's the main
thing."

The practice crasher was chased to the side boards by coach
Claude Julien, but wouldn't get off the ice until he was pulled
away by an arena worker. The intruder called Theodore a "great
goalie," adding he didn't score because "I didn't have time."

The 28-year-old man, a recreational hockey player intent on
showing he could play at a top level, identified himself as
Raphael. Police spokesman Olivier Lapointe said that although two
officers spoke to the man, it was "not really a police matter,"
and he was not arrested.

He went onto the Verdun Auditorium ice when most of the players
were at the far end of the rink. Wearing skates, full gear and a
white hockey jersey, Raphael skated in on the star goalie with a
stick and a puck. He was poke-checked on his first attempt, and
Theodore then stopped a weak wrist shot to the high glove side.

"I didn't really know what was going on until the guy came
on," a grinning Theodore said. "He came at me with his head down
so I just wanted to say 'Welcome to the big boys.' I poke-checked
him to say, `You have to keep your head up.' When he came back, I
thought about going out of the net and not playing into his game,
but then I thought he had the [courage] to go on the ice, so I let
him have a free shot at me."

Raphael said he crashed the practice to show the Canadiens what
he could do on the ice.

"For many years I wanted to play high-caliber hockey," he
said. "I had nothing to lose."

A security guard was on duty at the rink during practice.

"The situation turned out to be harmless," NHL deputy
commissioner Bill Daly told The Canadian Press. "But hopefully it
will serve as a reminder to all of us of the importance and need
for ensuring adequate security to safeguard the health and safety
of our players."

The Canadiens practice at the suburban arena when Bell Centre is
unavailable. That was the case this time because of a Rolling
Stones concert. About 15 to 20 fans, mostly youngsters, were on
hand Monday.

The man had spent most of the practice sitting in the seats in
hockey gear. Winger Alex Kovalev wondered if he was a player
waiting to go on after the Canadiens practice. Then the man moved
down next to the boards, tightened his skate laces and jumped on
the ice.

"Maybe he was wondering if we need a right-handed shot and
tried to prove he can play on our team," Kovalev said. "You need
one of those things to give us a laugh."