Stay Ready

The NHL has what I think is the most beautiful rule in all of sports.  It’s called, “The Emergency Goalie” rule.  Every team is limited to twenty players.  They can have eighteen skaters and two goalies.  But what happens if both goalies go down?  That’s what the “Emergency Goalie” is for.

Every city must provide an emergency goalie for every game.  He’s usually a rec-league player that might or might not have college experience.  He sits in the press box and eats free food while watching the game.   If either team loses both of its goalies the emergency goalie must be ready to suit up and play for either team.

I love the rule.

Of course, they never need the guy. In fact, in the history of the league the only time an emergency goalie was ever activated happened in 2017 and the guy only played seven seconds.

All of that changed this year.  The Chicago Blackhawks were hosting the playoff-bound Winnipeg Jets.

Then it happened.  The Blackhawk’s starting goalie injured himself in the pregame warm-up.

With 14 minutes left in the game, the Blackhawk’s second-string goalie went down with cramps.

A 36-year-old accountant named Scott Foster was sitting in the press box eating dinner when the phone rang.  Before he had time to think, Foster had signed a contract, gone to the dressing room, and suited up.  Minutes later the catatonic accountant skated onto the ice in front of 20,000 rabid NHL fans.

Foster was a regular on two “Beer League” teams in the Chicago area, and he played for a mid-major in college, but his wildest dreams wouldn’t have included this.

It was as if a church league soft-baller had been called to catch for the Yankees.

Foster later said that he didn’t remember much of it because he pretty much blacked out when they handed him the phone in the press box.

The Blackhawks had a 6-2 lead with a tick over 14 minutes to go.  The fans were just hoping the skaters could keep the swarming Winnipeg offense away from goal.

When Fossy blocked the first goal the grateful crowd erupted in cheers.

A few minutes later he blocked a second shot.  More cheers. Then a third.  By now the crowd was getting into it.  Then a fourth shot.  The stadium started to rock. A slow, “Fossy, Fossy, Fossy” chant began.  When Foster blocked his fifth straight shot on goal the crowd took the “Fossy” chant up an octave, “FOSSY! FOSSY! FOSSY!”

Meanwhile, back at his rec league word had spread that Fossy was on the ice.  They quit their games and crammed into the bar to watch.  Every blocked shot made the place a bit less sane. If it’s possible, the hundred or so guys packed into the bar were matching the hysteria of the 20,000 fans at the stadium.  “Fossy.  Fossy, Fossy!”

By the time Foster blocked his seventh straight shot on goal, the whole city of Chicago had lost its mind. People were laughing and crying and screaming at the top of their lungs, “FOSSY! FOSSY! FOSSY!”

The 36-year-old accountant from Oak Park, Ill had played 14 flawless minutes in the NHL.  He blocked seven shots on goal by the best skaters in the world and preserved the 6-2 lead.  The stadium erupted in bedlam. Scott Foster was swarmed on the ice and named MVP of the game!

After the game, he quipped, “A couple of hours ago I was sitting in an office running a ten-key. A few hours ago you’re working your day job and then you’re living your dream.”

The press quickly picked up the story and crews were dispatched to the rec league bar to get friends’ reactions. The rec guys were joking about rebooting their NHL careers.  One 40-year-old said, “There’s hope for us all, Fossey blazed a trail into the NHL!”

I read that story and laughed and cried.  Scott Foster had lived the dream.

Then I thought about it. When his name was called, Fossy was ready.  In some ways, he’d spent his whole life getting ready.  He’d honed his skills and kept them sharp.  So when the call came in Scott Foster was prepared.

Then I heard the Lord whisper to my heart, “It’s important to stay ready.”

1 Peter 3:15 but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;


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