It was more than a decade ago that Scott Foster had played meaningful action on the ice. He had been in college then.
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But on Thursday night, not only was the 36-year-old accountant pulled in as the Chicago Blackhawks’ “emergency goalie” to close out the last 14 minutes in the game against the Winnipeg Jets, he helped his team clinch the win by stopping all seven shots he faced.
Foster served as the "emergency backup," a unique position in hockey in which an amateur goalkeeper is on the bench for a team’s home games in case the team’s rostered goalies (two, in most cases) are unable to skate. Some teams have a pool of people who rotate the role of the emergency backup.
This is the first NHL season in which teams are mandated to have someone physically on-call at the arena. In this past, the position was largely an unofficial one and teams, when faced with this unique situation, often scrambled to find someone to fill in at the last minute.
On Thursday, the Blackhawks' starting goalie, Anton Forsberg, injured himself less than an hour before the game started and had to be replaced by Collin Delia, who incidentally made his NHL debut that night. Foster, meanwhile, was roped in under an "amateur tryout" agreement.
Delia, with just 14 minutes left in the game, injured himself, leaving the Blackhawks to rely on Foster to finish up the game.
After going a perfect seven-for-seven on shots against Winnipeg, Foster, who donned a No. 90 jersey, was named the game's star as the Blackhawks secured a 6-2 victory.
For the emergency goalie to play, not only would one of the goalies have to be unable to play, but the team would also have to have too little time to call a seasoned goalie from a minor league affiliate. The situation is so rare that more backups spend entire seasons on the bench, often without even seeing the inside of a locker room.