The Chicago Blackhawks were playing their backup goalie in Thursday night's game against the Winnipeg Jets. They were ahead comfortably, 6-2 when that goalie had to be relieved with 14 minutes left in the period.
They needed a backup for a backup, which is kind of like super-secret probation. It may have happened before, but it doesn't sound good.
Enter Scott Foster, a mild-mannered accountant from Oak Park, Illinois. Well, maybe not that mild-mannered. He played hockey for Western Michigan University, after all. But let's just say he had put in a full day in accounting before being called to the ice.
It happened when Collin Delia was escorted from the ice after suffering an injury. Delia had made 25 saves on 27 shots before heading to the locker room. And Delia was the backup for Anton Forsberg, the Blackhawks goalie who was reportedly injured while playing warm-up soccer with his teammates before the game.
According to NHL.com, the Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville had only just met Foster. "What a moment," Quenneville was quoted as saying. "I had never met him before. I talked to him before the game. Nice kid."
The nice kid had to show his stuff as he saved all 7 shots made by Winnipeg, including a shot made by defenseman Dustin Byfuglien, who rosters at 6'5" and 265 lbs. The NHL site says the shot was "terrifying," and they weren't even in the net with Foster.
A good night, Grace
Foster shows a kind of grace under pressure we don't see very much in these ego-driven times. According to the league, he kind of shrugged it off.
"You know, it's funny, you'd think there'd be a lot of pressure, but really, 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," Foster said. "So what pressure is there for me?"
Foster also made a glancing reference to his continued involvement in men's league hockey. Men's league is full of former college and high school players who rose to the top of the game, but now need to make a living elsewhere. It's like sandlot ball for former minor league stars--not a place you normally get promoted from. Which permitted Foster to make a joke about the situation.
"Who would have thought? You just keep grinding away in men's league and eventually you get your shot," Foster reportedly said.
In recognition of the seven saves, and of his grace under pressure, Foster was named the number one star of the game. Later, in the locker room, he was awarded the team belt.
He's an example of a cool attitude and mental preparation for all of us, whether we suit up on ice or in offices.
He is also the enduring idol of men's league goalies, everywhere.