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Blackhawks emergency goalie becomes instant celebrity

Foster's appearance in NHL game thrills beer-league teammates, minor league baseball club

by Tracey Myers @TraMyers_NHL / Staff Writer

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Sharks had just won their elite league championship at Johnny's IceHouse East on Thursday when Pete Johnson, general manager of the facility, came running onto the ice with some big news.

Scott Foster, who has played for the Sharks and is an emergency backup goaltender for the Chicago Blackhawks, was actually playing in an NHL game, against the Winnipeg Jets at United Center.

Tweet from @AndyGlockner: Sports photo of the year? From @johnnysicehouse (where Scott Foster plays in men's leagues), some rec league players watching Foster play for the Blackhawks.

"We knew he was dressing but you think there's no way he's going to get in the game," said Sharks forward Joe Claffy, 59. "We were supposed to be celebrating winning the championship, but nobody cared. Nobody even knew where the trophy was. We were drinking beer, in full uniform, watching in the lobby and going crazy for every save."

Foster, a 36-year-old accountant from Oak Park, Illinois, had gone to about 15 Blackhawks games this season as an emergency goaltender but never got close to being in a game. 

When he was a block away from United Center on Thursday he was told he'd be dressing for the game against the Jets because starter Anton Forsberg was injured during warmups. The second surprise came about six minutes into the third period when starting goaltender Colin Delia was injured and Foster had to go in.

Foster made seven saves and did not allow a goal in the Blackhawks' 6-2 win, playing the final 14:01. He was mobbed by the Blackhawks after the game and became an instant celebrity.

A Blackhawks spokesman said Friday they've received a number of media requests, and that Foster, while appreciative, has politely declined. 

The Frisco Roughriders, the Double-A affiliate of Major League Baseball's Texas Rangers, extended Foster a one-day contract to serve as their emergency catcher and to throw out a ceremonial first pitch for any game in 2018. Roughriders executive vice president/general manager Jason Dambach said he hasn't talked with Foster yet but hopes to get in touch with him soon.

Tweet from @RidersBaseball: Riders invite @NHLBlackhawks goalie Scott Foster to serve as team's emergency catcher for a game. Night features Bananas Foster @ concessions. Also announce nationwide accounting firm search for emergency back-ups at other positions. ����������������MORE ������

"We thought it was so neat that maybe he can be a backup catcher for the night, have some fun, and [we can] honor him in our special way. It's totally genuine. We thought it was such a unique, fun, cool story and wanted to extend the invite," Dambach said. "We're huge sports fans and we're in baseball, and you just try to think, what would be an equivalent situation to losing goalies and finding an emergency guy? In baseball, there probably wouldn't be any scenario where you'd sign a guy off the street."

Mark Olsen, 51, who plays with Foster on the team called 200x85 at Johnny's, said it couldn't have happened to a better person.

"I know it's cliche, but this guy is humble. He gets it, even for our games, he's a professional in life. That's probably why the Blackhawks found him somehow or someone recommended him," Olsen said. "Even for our beer-league games, he's the first in the room, he's dressed before everyone, he's warming up five minutes before us. Sometimes we'll show up with six or seven guys, he doesn't care. He stands tall. Nothing fazes the kid."

Matt Atsoff, 31, a forward for 200x85, got a text message about Foster's appearance. Unable to find the game at home, he ran to a nearby bar to watch it.

"He's a great guy, always the first one on the ice, so he's passionate about the game, as we all are," Atsoff said. "I was just super excited to see him get a shot to play in the NHL. As we're all kids playing hockey, it's something we dream about."

Foster is expected to play for 200x85 against the Chicago Chargers in Game 1 of their best-of-3 semifinal at Johnny's on April 6. The Blackhawks' final home game of the season, against the St. Louis Blues, is the same night.

"We may have to argue with the Blackhawks, because we need him," Olsen said.

Foster downplayed his performance on Thursday, saying, "You've got a four-goal lead to work with and the guys, how many shots did they block?" 

Video: Scott Foster steps in goal for the Blackhawks

Friends say he'll handle the attention he's getting the same way. Nevertheless, it was a memorable night for Foster and his teammates, be it those at United Center or Johnny's IceHouse.

"The Hawks won, the Sharks won, and Scott held the Winnipeg Jets scoreless for 14 minutes," Claffy said. "That's why you play hockey. It was just a fun night."

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