Beerleague goalie savours taste of NHL
36-year-old accountant who has never played pro stars in Blackhawks victory
On Thursday night in the middle of an NHL game between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Winnipeg Jets, an unfamiliar figure in a No. 90 Blackhawks jersey stepped onto the ice at the United Center.
“Hey, who’s this guy?” an announcer joked.
That guy was Scott Foster, the team’s emergency goalie, a 36-yearold accountant who hadn’t played in a high-end hockey game in more than 10 years. He played hockey for Western Michigan University from 2002 to 2005 and plays in recreational “beer leagues.” Foster has never played in the NHL.
Less than 15 minutes after taking the ice, Foster emerged a hockey legend, delivering a performance that left everyone who watched it in awe.
“Scott Foster is officially somehow the most improbable, unlikely story in Chicago sports in March, knocking off Loyola’s run to the Final Four. An accountant who plays in a beer league coming in and playing goalie and shutting down an actual NHL team for more than half a period,” Matt Lindner wrote on Twitter.
But how did the father of two and recreational player end up trending on Twitter and stealing the spotlight from fellow Blackhawk Brent Seabrook, who played his 1,000th regular-season game that same night?
Foster is one of a small group of “emergency backup” goaltenders who are kept on hand, usually in the press box or the stands, in the highly unlikely event both regular goalies on the roster are hurt or otherwise unavailable.
“Among hockey’s great quirks,” as the Hockey News put it, “is that it’s the only pro sport with the potential for someone not on the roster to come out of the stands and actually play in the game.” But, “it takes a very rare set of circumstances to open that door.”
Hours before the game, goaltender Anton Forsberg injured himself during a morning practice, according to the Chicago Tribune. Down to one goalie, rookie Collin Delia, the Blackhawks signed Foster as an emergency backup.
This isn’t the first time Foster has been tapped for the role. In a post-game interview, he said he had been designated as the emergency goalie for 12 or 15 games this season, but his usual duties involved sitting in the press box and taking advantage of the free food.
So imagine his surprise when he learned Delia — in the midst of his own NHL debut — had suffered an injury in the third period and he was needed.
“The initial shock happened when I had to dress and then I think you just kind of black out after that,” Foster said.
The cameras trained on him as he made his way past a bemused Joel Quenneville, the Blackhawks’ coach, and other players. Despite wearing his hockey helmet, his eyes betrayed utter bewilderment.
When asked if he received any advice before his big moment, Foster said, “I don’t think I heard anything other than, ‘Put your helmet on.’ ”
It turns out no advice was needed.
Foster was an impenetrable wall, stopping all seven of the shots he faced, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
In the 14 minutes and one second that Foster played, the internet went wild.
His spotless performance stunned fans, with Sun-Times reporter Satchel Price tweeting an all-caps reminder that Foster had “NEVER PLAYED PRO HOCKEY.”
His spotless performance even earned him the team belt, which is awarded to the player of the game. What a night.
“This is something that no one can ever take away from me,” Foster said.
“It’s something that I can go home and tell my kids.”
In an instant, Foster became an icon for adult recreational hockey players who imagine themselves playing in the NHL.
On Twitter, a user tweeted that Foster “is why we all keep plugging away in beer leagues and pick up games.”
His story was even compared to other inspirational sports moments, like Rudy Ruettiger taking the field with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
Despite his new-found fame, Foster said he still has to go back to his day job, where he will trade his Blackhawks jersey for a buttondown shirt.
“Who would have thought?” he said. “You just keep grinding away in men’s league and eventually you get your shot.”
Scott Foster makes one of his seven stops for the Chicago Blackhawks against the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday.