Blackhawks beat Jets with 36-year-old rec-leaguer Scott Foster in goal
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As a random guy off the street, a 36-year-old in a No. 90 jersey, made his way out of the dressing room, stepped up to the bench, then down to the ice, all Joel Quenneville could do was laugh.
‘‘I think I would, too,’’ Scott Foster said.
That’s accountant Scott Foster. Beer-league goalie Scott Foster. Blackhawks legend Scott Foster.
Pressed into emergency service by a season-ending pregame injury to Anton Forsberg and third-period cramping afflicting Collin Delia, Foster lived the dream of every rec-leaguer clinging to the glory days of his youth in dingy rinks.
Foster played in the NHL. And he played awfully well, too. When his beer-league playoffs begin next week, he’ll be the only guy on the ice who can say he stared down a slap shot by Patrik Laine, who swatted away a snap shot by Dustin Byfuglien, who stoned Paul Stastny on the doorstep.
Foster stopped all seven shots he faced in 14 minutes and one second of glory, had his name chanted by 21,000-plus fans and was named the No. 1 star of the Hawks’ 6-2 trouncing of the Jets in the wildest game of the season.
His payment? No money, but a lifetime of bragging rights at Johnny’s IceHouse and a heck of a story to tell his two young kids in Oak Park.
‘‘You think there’d be a lot of pressure,’’ said Foster, who played 55 games at Western Michigan in 2002-06 before moving to the Chicago area. ‘‘But tomorrow I’m going to wake up, I’m going to button up my shirt and I’m going to go back to my day job. What pressure is there for me?’’
It was supposed to be defenseman Brent Seabrook’s night for playing in his 1,000th regular-season game. Then top prospect Dylan Sikura was supposed to have the spotlight in his NHL debut. Then Forsberg’s freak lower-body injury — he was wearing a boot after the game — made Delia the story.
Foster trumped them all.
‘‘[Patrick Sharp] was just laughing about it, saying it just sums up my career in a nutshell,’’ Seabrook said with a laugh. ‘‘It’s my night, and Scotty comes in and steals the spotlight.’’
Foster is one of a few local goalies who are on call for home games, just in case something like this happens. He said he has been the designated emergency goalie for 12 or 15 games this season, but he usually just sits in the press box and enjoys the free food.
When Forsberg hurt himself during his pregame warmup, Foster was a block away from the arena. The Hawks kept him in the dressing room, which would allow him to face some warmup shots on the off chance he were needed.
And Foster indeed was needed, trudging past a laughing Quenneville with a look of bewilderment in his eyes, then facing a few warmup shots from Jordan Oesterle and Vinnie Hinostroza.
‘‘The initial shock happened when I had to dress,’’ Foster said. ‘‘And then you just kind of black out after that.’’
‘‘It’s Opening Day for baseball, but we had to go to the bullpen a couple of times today,’’ Quenneville said.
Foster was the capper to a wild evening. Seabrook was feted beforehand with a silver stick, a painting and a trip to Disney World. Sikura had two assists and four shots on goal in an impressive debut. And Delia was sharp in net, making 25 saves before leaving the game. Tomas Jurco had two goals, and Patrick Kane, Brandon Saad, Erik Gustafsson and Alex DeBrincat also scored for the Hawks.
Say this about the homestretch of this lost Hawks season: It has been meaningless, but it sure has been interesting.
‘‘Who would have thought?’’ Foster deadpanned. ‘‘You just keep grinding away in men’s league, and eventually you’ll get your shot.’’