It was the classic call-up scenario: In the middle of Manitoba, right out of nowhere, Brandon Yip's phone rang Thursday with news he'd waited his whole life to hear — he was going to the NHL.
"We'd just flown in that morning, and I was back in the hotel room after grabbing a bite to eat. It was our coach on the other end of the line, and he said I was going to Colorado," Yip said Friday. "Some butterflies after that, for sure."
Instead of a weekend in Manitoba playing for the Lake Erie Monsters of the American Hockey League, Yip will play his first NHL game tonight for the Avalanche against Columbus at the Pepsi Center. It'll be a nice inclusion to a 2009 that saw Yip sign his first pro contract and win an NCAA title with Boston University as a senior.
"I was really excited, couldn't wait to tell my parents," said Yip, 24, a right winger. "The guys here have really made me feel at home so far, and I'm just hoping to help the team any way I can."
An eighth-round selection in the 2004 draft by Colorado, Yip had an up-and-down career at Boston University. He was a top player on the Terriers' NCAA title team, his last college game ending as a national champion.
Quite a change from his junior season, one that saw his offensive production sink and a suspension from the program by coach Jack Parker for a drinking excursion with three teammates. Parker only allowed one night a week — Saturday — in which players could drink alcohol, but Yip was found to be drinking on a Sunday in late 2007, and was nearly dropped from the team.
But, given a second chance by Parker, Yip responded with a strong second half of the junior season and a great senior year.
"My junior year was definitely not what I wanted, but I learned from it," Yip said. "And everything in my senior year was a great experience."
Yip, who scored two goals in six games with Lake Erie, after missing several weeks with a broken hand suffered in a preseason fight in St. Louis for the Avs, likely will skate on the fourth line tonight. As a player at BU and Lake Erie, was known as a decent scorer and a physical player who liked to hit everything in sight.
"He's a player we're looking for to provide some energy to our lineup," said Avs coach Joe Sacco, a fellow BU alum. "He's a grinding winger that plays the game north-south. He's pretty difficult to play against, from all reports. He finishes his checks and goes to the net hard.
"With him and guys like him, it's opportunity for us to get to see them and where they're at in their development, and also to see how they could help our lineup and help us win. It's a chance for them to show us what they can do."