C.J. Stretch was hanging out at his home in Irvine, Calif., Monday morning when he received a call from Barons general manager Bill Scott.
On Tuesday night, Stretch scored what turned out to be the game-winning goal in Oklahoma City's 3-2 win over the Texas Stars at the Cox Convention Center.
“My goal all year was to get called up. I didn't care which team,” Stretch said. “I've heard great things about this organization. When I got the call, I was pretty excited.”
After Scott called, Stretch, a 23-year-old left winger, hurriedly packed his bags. The California native, playing for the Ontario Reign in the East Coast Hockey League, caught a flight to Phoenix, then a connecting flight to Oklahoma City.
“It was right when that storm was coming in,” Stretch said. “Looking out the window it was snowy and really windy. You couldn't really see the ground until you landed. But I got here.”
Stretch checked into his hotel around 11 p.m. He officially signed with the Barons after Tuesday's morning skate.
A few hours later, he scored off a pass from team captain Josh Green with just under three minutes left to give OKC a 3-1 lead.
“It's huge to get that first one out of the way to get my confidence up,” Stretch said. “It's great to be playing with two skilled players (Green and Toni Rajala).”
Stretch's goal proved to be pivotal when the Stars scored with 33 seconds left.
“He played well all game,” said veteran defenseman Brett Clark. “He was in the right position. Greeny made a great pass to him. And you can tell he's a goal scorer. That was a huge goal for us.”
One of the top scorers in the ECHL with Ontario, a team in the Los Angeles area, Stretch has scored 60 points in 57 games with the Reign.