Beer­league goalie savours taste of NHL

36-year-old ac­coun­tant who has never played pro stars in Black­hawks vic­tory

Regina Leader-Post - - SPORTS - ALLYSON CHIU

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.”

THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Scott Fos­ter makes one of his seven stops for the Chicago Black­hawks against the Win­nipeg Jets on Thurs­day.

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