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Short Shifts

Gritty, Ovechkin's summer and an EBUG: The Top 10 viral stories of 2018

We have your funniest, favorite and most heartwarming moments of this year right here

by Daniel O'Leary @DanOLeary25 / NHL.com Staff Writer

It was another year of big goals, jaw-dropping saves, spectacular assists and epic games around the NHL.

Along with all the incredible on-ice action in 2018, there were just as many amazing, funny and heartwarming moments off the ice.

Our Short Shifts team took the liberty of narrowing down the Top 10 viral stories of 2018, (including a few honorable mentions):

 

1. The World Meets Gritty

It's hard to imagine a National Hockey League - or a world - without Gritty now, but the Philadelphia Flyers mascot has only been with us a few months.

On Sept. 24, the Flyers introduced their new mascot and everything changed.

Since hitting the scene, the lovable orange furball has appeared on "The Tonight Show," became a tattoo trend, had a feud with the San Jose Sharks mascot, made a grand entrance into Wells Fargo Center at the home opener, became a Halloween costume, nearly got elected to public office, drew praise from Flyers great Bernie Parent, battled some youth hockey players, became a Time Magazine "Person of the Year" candidiate, attended a wedding, nailed a halfcourt shot at college basketball game, played Santa Claus and even took down some Santa impostors.

That's a big year for most. Gritty did it all in less than four months.

Video: Flyers mascot Gritty bursts onto the scene in 2018

 

2. Caps Win, Party with Cup

The Washington Capitals won the first Stanley Cup title in their history and did not get cheated on the celebration.

Starting from the moment 2018 Conn Smythe winner Alex Ovechkin led the team in a stirring rendition of Queen's "We Are the Champions," the Capitals and the Cup were inseparable.

They took it to a Washington Nationals game, to Las Vegas for the NHL Awards, to "The Tonight Show" and plenty of other places.

Ovechkin even took it to bed.

Video: Hilarious look at Ovi and Backstrom's Bellagio visit

 

3. The Accountant Turned Goalie

On March 29th, a 36-year-old accountant from Oak Park, Illinois had nothing else to do, so he pulled on a Chicago Blackhawks jersey and shut out an NHL team for 14 minutes.

Scott Foster became the first emergency backup goalie (or EBUG) to make a save in an NHL game.

After injuries struck Blackhawks goalie Anton Forsberg in warmups and backup Collin Delia in the third period, Foster was pressed into service. And he did not disappoint.

Foster stopped seven shots, including one terrifying one from Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien, and was named the game's First Star.

Video: WPG@CHI: Emergency goalie Scott Foster preserves win

 

4. Vegas Does Things Differently

During their inaugural season, the Vegas Golden Knights proved to do things a little differently. While some teams may have proposals during games, in Vegas they had the actual wedding.

Steven Poscente had the whole thing planned out for his girlfriend Cari, who became his fiancee in the first period, his wife during the second intermission and an old married couple by the time the game ended.

The ceremony was officiated by none other than Elvis, of course.

It was a wild year for the Golden Knights, who also saw a puppy named after their goalie Marc-Andre Fleury skyrocket to fame, Jeremy Roenick participate in all of their fun, and a number of showstopping pregame ceremonies.

Also Chance the mascot drove the Knight Rider car to one of the games.

Video: WSH@VGK, Gm1: Vegas' ceremony kicks off Cup Final

 

5. Hockey Is For Everyone

The nation of Kenya has one ice hockey team, but got some added depth thanks to a pair of NHL All-Stars.

Without another team to play in their home country, the Kenya Ice Lions met up with Pittsurgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby and Colorado Avalanche forward Nathan MacKinnon in Toronto for a game.

The result was the feel-good game of the year.

Watch: Sidney Crosby meets Kenya Ice Lions on Youtube

 

 6. "We're The Devils!"

Hey, you gotta support your team.

Actor Patrick Warburton, who famously played rowdy New Jersey Devils fan David Puddy on "Seinfeld" actually showed up to Game 4 of the team's Eastern Conference First Round series against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Warburton went all in, complete with face paint, the letter D painted on his chest and even let out his "We're the Devils!" line from the iconic sitcom.

Video: TBL@NJD, Gm4: 'Puddy' fires up Devils ahead of Game 4

 

7. Persistance Pays Off for Connolly

During the Washington Capitals Eastern Conference First Round back in April, forward Brett Connolly wanted to give a puck to a young girl named Keelan Moxley.

Things didn't go smoothly.

But after more than a few tries, the puck got to the 6-year-old Moxley and she and her family were guests of his at Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final, as well.

Of course, Connolly scored much to the delight of his new pal.

Connolly, however, still needs to work on his fist bumps.

Video: CBJ@WSH, Gm2: Connolly makes young fan's night

 

8. Hurricanes Score With Celly

The Carolina Hurricanes are switching things up.

The team went with a new goal song and some new postgame celebrations and are having a great time doing it.

What have we learned from this? Hockey is fun. And, also, defenseman Dougie Hamilton does a mean floss.

But as the Hurricanes move forward and build new traditions, they are still taking time to honor the past.

Video: VAN@CAR: Hurricanes continue new postgame tradition

 

9. A Burning Talent

Norman Shewchuk is a 52-year-old resident of Mundare, Alberta. He is also a quadriplegic with limited use of his hands.

But that doesn't stop him from making some amazing works of art using a magnifying glass and the Sun. His favorite subject? The Edmonton Oilers and captain Connor McDavid.

Video: Wood artist crafts Connor McDavid portrait

 

10. Coming Through in the Clutch

Ask and you shall receive.

Penguins fan Kelly Sowatsky went viral looking for a kidney donor. And it's a good thing she did.

Sowatsky got her message out to enough people that someone came through for her, a fellow Penguins fan named Jeffrey Lynd.

And while we are on the subject, another Penguins fan, Ashley Pritchard is currently looking for a kidney for her father, so if you know someone give her a call.

 

HONORABLE MENTIONS

- Phil Kessel in the Penguins cold tube is the greatest thing ever and Evgeni Malkin knows it.

- Say it ain't so Joe. Brent Burns sat Joe Thornton down and took a razor to his teammate's epic beard.

- He may be a rookie, but Brady Tkachuk's reaction face has already become a thing.

- The Nashville Predators decided to steer into some criticism of a trio of banners they raised and it was quite funny.

- Auston Matthews and Mitchell Marner were in "The Nutcracker." No joke. This happened recently.

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