Monday, December 10, 2012


In street/ice hockey, usually some one's younger brother (i.e. me) was designated to play goalie.  This wasn't up for discussion.  Why?  Because half the time things were boring.  Another reason was the inherent danger brought on by lack of equipment: my first goalie set was a third baseman's glove, a mitten for the blocker side, winter jacket, discarded couch cushions for leg pads, and a stick we stole at a yard sale.  Mask? JACQUES PLANTE WAS WEAK.

Then one day a quarter-century ago, the position of goalie changed forever:

I couldn't watch it in real-time as all home games were broadcast on PRISM; PRISM was akin to HBO on cable, but maintained control of broadcast to all home Flyers and Sixers games.  I didn't even have cable.

I do remember seeing the highlights that evening, though.  I was already a huge Hextall fan at the time, and when I saw that puck go in something just clicked in me.  Why couldn't the goalie be the third defenseman?  Why couldn't they score?  Why should they stay in the crease at all times?

For the next five years I modeled my game after Ron Hextall.  The pipes were rhythmically tapped before every puck drop.  I learned to shoot lefthanded with the goalie stick.  Anyone who came near the crease had a target on their back, and my paddle was a scythe that handed out swift justice.

I loved being a goalie because of the guy. I imagine so many others did as well.

I do remember watching this goal go in, though:

It was a shortie, to boot.

The game had to change to account for Hextall.  Years later, the "Brodeur Rule", or trapezoid was imprinted on the rink to account for how good goalies had become as puck handlers.  I often thought the name was inaccurate, as it all started with 27.

Side note: looking at the roster at the time of both goals.  My God, virtually every forward on that roster could (and did) throw down and score.

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