It's a big night for University of British Columbia student Matt Hewitt.

The Thunderbirds goalie has signed a one-game contract with the Vancouver Canucks to serve as emergency backup for their game against the St. Louis Blues Tuesday night.

"Ryan Miller arrived at Rogers Arena this morning with some tightness. After further evaluation, it was determined that Miller will be unavailable for tonight's game," the team's management said in a statement.

That means for one night only, Hewitt will be an NHL player, something the fourth-year sociology major describes as a dream come true.

"This is an opportunity of a lifetime," he told reporters hours before the game. "I'm just going to go in there and enjoy every moment of it."

Hewitt said he woke up Tuesday to a flurry of messages saying Miller might not be able to dress for the St. Louis game, which follows two wins in a row for the Canucks.

Eventually, his Thunderbirds coach called to deliver the good news: "You're going up, kid."

"My heart pretty much stopped right there," Hewitt said. "Words can't describe how excited I am."

Family and friends have been sending their love and support, Hewitt added, with some even buying tickets to the game just in case he makes it onto the ice.

But he insists he's not crossing his fingers for starting goalie Jacob Markstrom to get injured.

"I never wish for anybody to get hurt but obviously that kind of led to this opportunity for me to go up with the Canucks tonight, so you know what I'll do my best to be ready if anything happens."