CHICAGO — Scott Foster didn’t expect his Thursday to end like this.
The 36-year-old accountant from Oak Park, Illinois has gone to about 15 Chicago Blackhawks games this season as an emergency goaltender.
The first surprise Thursday came when he was about a block away from United Center, when he was told he’d be dressing for the game against the Winnipeg Jets. The second surprise came about six minutes into the third period when starting goaltender Colin Delia was injured and Foster had to go in.
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“I don’t think I heard anything other than ‘Put your helmet on,'” Foster said.
Foster made seven saves and did not allow a goal playing 14:01 in the 6-2 win. Delia, who left the game with cramping, got the win in his NHL debut by saving 25 of 27 shots. But Foster, who plays in a league at Johnny’s IceHouse West, the Blackhawks’ former practice rink about a mile from United Center, got an incredible experience.
“I’m an accountant by day,” Foster said. “So a few hours ago I was sitting on my computer typing on a 10-key, and now I’m standing in front of you guys just finished 14-1/2 minutes of NHL hockey.”
Foster played 55 games for Western Michigan from 2002-06. He is the first emergency goaltender to play in an NHL game since Jorge Alves, an equipment manager for the Carolina Hurricanes, played eight seconds in a 3-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Dec. 31, 2016.
Video: WPG@CHI: Emergency goalie Scott Foster preserves win
It’s the second time recently the Blackhawks have had to dress an emergency goaltender. Eric Semborski, 23, was a backup to Scott Darling against the Philadelphia Flyers when Corey Crawford had an appendectomy on Dec. 3, 2016.
Anton Forsberg was expected to start against the Jets but sustained a lower-body injury before the game. Delia left with cramps 5:59 into the third period and Foster hurriedly prepared and took a quick warmup. Quenneville was laughing and smiling as Foster came out of the tunnel.
“I think I would too,” Foster said.
One minute later, he made his first save on a wrist shot by Tyler Myers and later made a highlight-worthy save on Paul Stastny. With every save he made, the crowd got louder, at one point chanting, “Foster! Foster!”
“Opening day for baseball, but we had to go to the bullpen a couple times today,” Quenneville said. “One of those interesting things you don’t see very often. What a moment for him.”
Tweet from @PR_NHL: Teams w/ two goalies making their NHL debut in the same game, (modern era, 1943-44):@NHLBlackhawks: Collin Delia, Scott Foster (2017-18)NJD: Karl Friesen, Chris Terreri (1986-87)BOS: Marco Baron, James Stewart Jr. (1979-80)#NHLStats pic.twitter.com/dzA9uvMjho
Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook, playing in his 1,000th NHL game, said he didn’t mind playing second fiddle to Foster.
“[Patrick Sharp] was just laughing about it, saying it just sums up my career in a nutshell. My night and Scottie comes in and steals the spotlight,” Seabrook said. “It was great. It was pretty cool to see him go in there. The guys were saying when he was sitting in the locker room, there he was as cool as a cucumber, and he just went out there and … took a few shots. I was like, ‘Oh, this guy looks pretty good.’ He was great. I think the boys were doing everything they could to help him out and he made some big saves and it was a fun night.”
Foster will be back at work Friday. He said jokingly that he’ll tell his friends, “I made about 30 saves in a 1-0 win.”
It wasn’t how Foster expected his Thursday to go, but he now has an experience he’ll never forget.
“There’s always a chance,” Foster said. “You come to enough games, guys do get hurt. You just don’t think that it’s going to happen to you. 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. Just a ton of fun and a lot of good memories.”