Sunday, June 7, 2015

Andrei Vasilevskiy, Meet Lester Patrick


In game two of the Stanley Cup finals, Andrei Vasilevskiy became the first goaltender to gain his first playoff win in relief since 1928. Due to the unexplained injury of Tampa Bay's regular goalie Ben Bishop, the 20 year-old rookie was thrust into action. In getting his first win in relief he is the first since Lester Patrick to accomplish this feat. Of course, Patrick was more than twice the age of Vasilevskiy when he did it. With quotes from the Montreal Gazette the story went as follows.

Hall of Famer, Lester Patrick was 44 years old and the coach of the New York Rangers during the 1928 playoffs. He had played only one full season (as a skater) since he was 36. Game two of the 1928 finals against the Montreal Maroons was when the Silver Fox, Patrick was needed to save the day. It was early in the second period when Rangers goalie Lorne Chabot "jumped in the air to stop a backhanded shot from the stick of Nels Stewart." Unfortunately for Chabot he misjudged the shot and the "puck caught him over the left eye. He fell in a heap to the ice, writhing in agony."After heading to the Rangers room, doctors realized the injury was serious, "He was immediately removed to the Royal Victoria Hospital, suffering from a hemorrhage of the anterior and posterior chambers of the eye."
Lorne Chabot
A long delay in the game ensued while officials from both teams decided the course of action. The Rangers, unlike the Maroons did not carry a spare goaltender. The Maroons had for two seasons carried Flat Walsh as a substitute in case of injury to starter Clint Benedict. Alex Connell of Ottawa and Hugh McCormick of the London minor league squad were both in attendance, and both refused by the Maroons. "Lester Patrick, exhorted by his players to fill the breach, donned a uniform, strapped on the pads, set a black cap at a rakish angle over his shock of grey hair and, for the first time in his long, distinguished career in hockey, took up a post as a regular goalkeeper." Odie Cleghorn, manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates had replaced Patrick behind the bench.

"Don't let them shoot," roared Cleghorn from the bench. The Ranger players sized up the situation. They decided that Patrick wanted only long shots to handle and that Cleghorn wanted them to keep the Maroons from getting to close quarters with the relief Ranger goalie." Apparently the strategy worked like a charm as the Gazette points out,"Not once from the time Patrick entered the nets did the Maroons ever get close to the veteran." 

One shot did get past Patrick when Maroon, Jimmy Ward beat him with one of those long shots but the whistle had barely beaten the shot, calling an offside. Alas, Montreal did in fact finally get one to tie the game "when Nels Stewart raced in on the left, following a whistling shot by Hooley Smith, picked up the rebound unmolested, and with Patrick on his hands and knees at the near goal post, drove by him to the far corner for the tying counter."
Nels Stewart

Patrick and the Rangers would however even the series, winning just over seven minutes into extra time on a "scrambled goal by Frankie Boucher". With the series tied going into the third match, it was decided by the teams and NHL president Frank Calder that New York could use a replacement keeper. It was mutually agreed that former New York Americans goalie, Joe Miller would be the fill-in. Miller had actually played 28 games for the Americans in that 1927/28 season before being shipped to Niagara Falls of the Canadian Professional League.
Joe Miller
Miller performed wonderfully for the Rangers. Miller and New York lost the following game 2-0 but then proceeded to win by scores of 1-0 and 2-1 to capture the Stanley Cup. Miller would be traded to begin the following season with Pittsburgh and in 1930/31 they would become one of the worst teams in NHL history. Miller played all but one game as the Pirates went 5-36-3. Lorne Chabot would recover, but the second game of the 1928 final was his last as a Ranger. Prior to the next season he was traded to Toronto along with $10,000 cash for John Ross Roach. There, he would anchor the Maple Leafs to their first Stanley Cup in 1932.

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