Postcard: Mantua's goal recalls special night
When I heard
Western Michigan goalie Mike Mantua scored a goal Saturday night,
it was like stumbling upon the movie my girlfriend and I saw on
our first date. Fond memories.
seen a lot of movies together. And I've only seen one goalie score
a goal in person.
Goalies Who Scored a Goal
It was 1998,
in Michigan State's Munn Ice Arena. Chad Alban –
in the midst of a season so good, only a Little League All-Star
could rob him of the Hobey –
raced from his net to the corner behind him and to his right. He
fired the puck in the air; some of the Spartans were so sure it
was going in, they were celebrating before it landed, just shy of
the Ferris State blue line.
So was I. Showing
as much restraint as I could muster in the "no cheering"
press box, I ducked down in my chair so fewer people would notice.
It didn't matter –
the entire arena was going crazy.
is usually reserved, especially compared to Lawson Ice Arena at
Western Michigan –
where the students are over the top, in a bad way. I can only imagine
what that place was like Saturday night.
In Munn on that
Senior Night, there was an instant sense of history. The Spartan
bench emptied in celebration, but the CCHA officials showed the
good sense not to issue a penalty. Within 15 minutes, it had the
where-were-you-when quality of a presidential assassination, but
in a good way.
story: the television cameramen who left their position early to
attend the post-game press conference. As they walked through the
stands behind the Ferris goal, the puck floated at them like an
effect in a 3-D movie –
in slow motion, but too fast to get the camera out to film it.
It's not even
the element of surprise that makes it special, however. Mantua said
he had told his teammates that he would score a goal this year.
Similarly, I thought Alban would in 1998; I even compiled the list
above, of college goalies who had scored a goal, in anticipation
of his accomplishing the feat.
It was actually
seeing it that moved people. All season Ron Mason had resisted calling
Alban the best goalie he'd ever seen –
chances are he was already recruiting Ryan Miller –
but he gushed after the goal, hugging Alban as he left the ice.
it on TV in the NHL a few times and I knew if anyone could do it,
it would be Chad," he said. "That puts the icing on the
cake for him."
so amazing about a goalie scoring a goal –
Ron Mason, in over 50 years of playing and coaching hockey, had
never seen it happen in person.
What sport has
a similar feat? In baseball, a home run is a home run. In basketball,
a dunk is certainly nothing special, even if you're a Princeton
fan. Football? We know where we were when Flutie found Phelan, but
that was a unique circumstance, not a type of play that the next
generation could enjoy anew. The closest thing is a hole in one,
and I'd bet every avid golfer knows someone with one, if they haven't
actually seen it happen.
You almost wish
it happened more often. But it's better that it doesn't.