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ON THIS DAY: Alfie Moore Takes Over in Goal

Exactly 83 years ago today, Alfie Moore took the Blackhawks crease as emergency backup goalie during the 1938 Stanley Cup Final

by Bob Verdi /

The Blackhawks just marked the three-year anniversary of Scott Foster's instant classic. You remember Foster, a 36-year-old accountant who was rushed into service as an emergency goalie at the United Center. He made seven saves on seven shots in 14:01 of the third period to close out a victory over the Winnipeg Jets, and became an overnight celebrity.

Tweet from @NHLBlackhawks: Three years ago today, an emergency backup goaltender walked into the United Center just like any other gameday and left it a #Blackhawks legend.Let's take a look back at Emergency Backup Goaltender Scott Foster's @NHL debut! #OTD

With all due respect, the king of emergency goalies in franchise history was, and still is, Alfie Moore. Through no fault of their own, the Blackhawks qualified for the 1938 Stanley Cup playoffs despite winning only 14 of 48 games during the regular season.

Mike Karakas played every minute of those between the pipes, and he was there again for the postseason. That's when strange things started to happen. The Blackhawks lost the opener of a series against the Montreal Canadiens, but won the next two in a best-of-three upset. The Blackhawks advanced, dropped the opener against the favored New York Americans, but won the next two again.

On to the Final. Unfortunately, in the 3-2 clincher against the Americans, Karakas broke a toe. With only two days before Game 1 against the Maple Leafs in Toronto, the Blackhawks were without a goalie. Dave Kerr, an accomplished netminder with the previously eliminated New York Rangers, lived in the area. The Blackhawks inquired about him, but Conn Smythe, manager of the Maple Leafs, wanted no part of that.

He suggested Moore, a minor leaguer in Toronto's chain and a local resident. Bill Stewart, the Blackhawks' coach, was furious, challenging Smythe to a fist fight. But Stewart settled down and ordered a search party for Moore. It began at Moore's house, where his wife said Alfie was at a nearby watering hole, and concluded at a second tavern, where Moore had relocated after leaving the first one correctly suggested by his wife.

Johnny Gottselig, a Blackhawk star, knew of Moore, who was happy to see an old acquaintance. He asked for tickets to that evening's game. Chicago had a better offer. How about playing goal for us? Moore agreed, and he was poured into a taxi. When Stewart studied Moore's condition, only hours before the puck drop, the Blackhawks' coach winced. Get him out of my sight.

"But there was nothing else we could do," said Gottselig, who helped Moore ingest generous doses of coffee as game time approached on April 5, 1938.

Naturally, the first shot on Moore, by Toronto's Gordie Drillon, went in. Supernaturally, the Maple Leafs would not score again. The Blackhawks (then the Black Hawks) won, 3-1. Their Paul Goodman, a very spare goalie, had been sent home before the playoffs, but was brought back for Game 2. He lost, 5-1.

However, when the Final moved to Chicago, Karakas returned with a steel boot over his injured foot. Game 3 at the Stadium attracted 18,497, then a record crowd in the National Hockey League. The Blackhawks won two straight to take the best-of-five series for their second Stanley Cup. The trophy itself was not present. Rather it was still in Toronto, where everybody assumed it would wind up with the champion Maple Leafs. Until it didn't.

Bill Tobin, Chicago's manager, rewarded Moore with $300 in cash and a gold watch. He never played another game for the Blackhawks. He didn't have to.

This story was originally published on April 5, 2020

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