CHICAGO — In a Blackhawks season where you’ve come to expect the unexpected, this one might top them all.
But unlike many of the surprises from this year’s team, this story is not only incredibly positive — it’s downright inspirational.
During warmups for Thursday’s game with the Jets, goaltender Anton Forsberg suffered a lower-leg injury. That forced backup Collin Delia, who was called up to replace J.F. Berube this week, into the starting role. In his place, the Blackhawks brought in an emergency goalie from the Johnny’s Icehouse adult leagues.
That’s 36-year-old accountant Scott Foster, who was signed to a one-day amateur tryout agreement. Since the team was down to a single goalie, Foster had to suit up — just hours after he finished working at Chicago’s Golub Capital as an accountant. Suddenly, he was a member of the Blackhawks.
“I was probably a block away, so moments before warm up, roughly give or take,” Foster said, explaining when he found out he would be the official backup for the Blackhawks. “The initial shock happened when I had to dress, and I think you just kinda black out after that.”
Little did he know what was coming two hours later.
With 15 minutes left to go in the game against the Jets, Delia exited the game with an injury, and in came Foster. Leading 6-2, there wasn’t a lot of worry about putting the amateur goalie into the net for the end of the third period. In fact, coach Joel Quenneville was laughing a bit when Foster emerged from the locker room in his pads.
“I don’t think I heard anything other than, ‘Put your helmet on,'” said Foster, who in his No. 90 jersey skated to the crease.
In the process of fulfilling a lifelong dream, he also came up with a once-in-a-lifetime performance.
Facing a playoff-bound Winnipeg squad, Foster stopped all seven shots he faced over the final 14:01 of the game to hold onto the four-goal lead for a victory.
“That’s something you’ll never forget,” said Foster, who had the biggest media crowd of the night around his temporary locker at the United Center. “You understand what’s happening, and they’re going to have a lot of fun with it, and you might as well, too.”
In that time, there were a few memorable moments. Foster’s first official save came 6:59 into the third period on a shot by Tyler Myers. Later in the period, Foster stopped a hard-slap shot by former Blackhawks forward Dustin Byfuglien. As the chants of “Foster, Foster” began from the crowd, Foster made his final stop of the night on Joel Armia.
When it was all over, it was Foster who was named the No. 1 star of the game, much to the delight of the crowd.
“It was opening day for baseball but we had to go to the bullpen a couple times today,” Quenneville said of his unusual goalie rotation Thursday. “It was one of those interesting things that you don’t see very often, and I thought both goalies played extremely well.”
What’s most impressive is that Delia, and then Foster, played so well against a Jets team that’s going to finish in the top three in the Western Conference. At 104 points, the team is in the midst of its best run since returning to Manitoba in 2011. But for one night, they took a rookie goalie and then an amateur.
“From my perspective, this is a dream regardless,” Foster said. “This is something that no one can ever take away from me, it’s something I can go home and tell my kids and they can tell their friends and whatnot.”
“So it wouldn’t matter from my perspective,” he said, “just a ton of fun and a lot of good memories.”
It could theoretically happen again, since Foster said he’s been an emergency goalie for about 15 games this season. That requires him to have his gear at the arena, sit in the press box, get a meal and wait in case he’s needed. It was just a little different Thursday night.
But on Friday, it’s back to work at the office, and soon it will be playoff time for his Johnny’s Icehouse Adult League, with this shining moment with the Blackhawks living on as an incredible memory.
“I just try to put it past you, because it’s going to be a little different in that game for sure,” said Foster of his upcoming playoff game.