Todd Ford figures he was the highest-paid doorman on Long Island earlier in the month.

For two games in late February and early March, Ford served as the backup goalie for the Washington Capitals. Traditionally, the backup goalie sits on the bench in a baseball hat and opens and shuts the door for the players getting on and off the ice.

It was an experience he wouldn't trade for anything.

After seven seasons in the minor leagues, playing for eight different teams, Ford finally got the call he's been waiting for all these years on the morning of Feb. 26.

"I was getting ready to take a nap when the guys from Washington called," Ford said. "They wanted to know if I had my stuff together. I had no idea what they were talking about. They said I needed to get my gear together as quickly as I could because they needed me that night up in Long Island."

The often-injured Semyon Varlamov, the Capitals No. 1 goalie, was hurt again and Washington needed a backup goalie. Normally Washington would have tapped Braden Holtby, who was playing for the Capitals' American Hockey League affiliate in Hershey at the time. But Holtby was injured.

"I was in total shock, I couldn't believe it," Ford said. "I was really excited and nervous all at the same time. After all these years to finally get the opportunity was a fantastic feeling."

Besides taking part in the pre-game warmups, Ford was never able to get on the ice during the game. But the two hours that Ford sat on the bench during an NHL game was an exhilarating experience for the normally stoic Calgary, Alberta, native.

"I was basically a door man for most of the game, but I'd gladly do it again," Ford said with a chuckle. "It's a night I'll never forget. You get a taste of it and you want more. The next step is to actually play in a game."

Ford got to hang around long enough to take part in an NHL practice, stopping shots from the likes of Alexander Ovechkin and Alexander Semin.

"All the big guns were out there for that practice," Ford said. "Ovechkin has an unbelievable shot. It comes hard and fast and you'd better be ready. I had practiced during training camp before, but the pace of practice was a lot different in the middle of the season."

Ford has seen the entire gamut of professional hockey this season. He started the year with South Carolina, playing 18 games with the Stingrays. He has played in 13 games for Hershey and then the two with the Capitals.

"There's been a lot of traveling," Ford said. "That's been the toughest part. I haven't really been able to settle into one place, but I'm not complaining. It's the nature of the business."

Ford returned to South Carolina on Monday and will start for the Stingrays tonight when they take on Greenville.

"I love playing here, I love the guys on the team, so I'm not disappointed about being back in South Carolina," Ford said. "I haven't played a whole lot lately, so I'm looking forward to getting back on the ice on a consistent basis. We're trying to make a push going into the playoffs, so every point is crucial."

Ford has traditionally struggled in his first game back from the AHL. He hopes to change that trend tonight against the Road Warriors.

"I don't know what it is, but I do tend to struggle that first game back," Ford said. "I don't know if it's because the pace of the game is different from the American League or what. I'm determined not to let that happen (tonight)."

Stingrays sign Dolan

The Stingrays signed their second college player in Wisconsin's Sean Dolan.

Dolan, who finished his collegiate career this past week, had 16 points on seven goals and nine assists in 41 games with the Badgers. The 6-3, 200-pound centerman is expected to be in the lineup tonight against the Road Warriors.

"Sean is a big body that can skate well and is very solid defensively," said Stingrays coach Cail MacLean. "He has a well-rounded game."

Today's Game

Who: Greenville Road Warriors (40-22-4, 84 points) at South Carolina Stingrays (35-27-5, 75 points)

When / Where: Today, 7 p.m. / North Charleston Coliseum

Tickets: 744-2248

Radio: WTMZ 910-AM