Goalie Goal-eye, Oh-Oh
Posted By: Aaron Sims
There’s no doubt a goalie can, nay WILL, make or break a team.
It’s probably the most important position in all of sports. Different positions can lead your team in scoring in basketball. A baseball team can allow five runs a game but score six and win. A football quarterback is the closest to a goalie in terms of importance.
It’s more likely, though, that a goalie misses every shot than a quarterback commits a turnover on every play.
Several goalies have gained prominence based on a solid week or two of work. For example, Olympians Jim Craig and Ray LeBlanc certainly didn’t have the most sparkling professional careers. Craig, however, still commands a hefty price as a speaker due to a certain achievement in Feb. 1980. We wouldn’t even know who LeBlanc was if it wasn’t for a surprising loss by Team USA in the Bronze Medal game of the 1992 Olympics.
Montreal goalie Steve Penney stunned the hockey world when he was recalled by Canadiens coach Jacques Lemaire. Lemaire found the inconsistent play of his goaltenders, Rick Wamsley and Richard Sevigny, to be intolerable. To make his point, he summoned Penney from the AHL just in time for the playoffs of 1984. The startled rookie seized his opportunity by winning nine playoff games, three as shutouts. He became the toast of Montreal. He was Montreal’s number-one the following season but lost the job to some kid named Patrick Roy and played just 15 NHL games after that.
All that being said, consider the fortunes of former Admirals defenseman Mike Vellucci. He’s been the head coach of the OHL’s Plymouth Whalers since 2001. Between 2006 and 2010 he has been blessed with very talented netminders.
In the 2006-07 season, his tandem was Michal Neuvirth and Jeremy Smith. The following year, Neuvirth was traded and the tandem was Smith and Matt Hackett.
In 2008-09, Hackett took over as number-one when Smith was dealt to Niagara. Hackett remained in that position through last season.
Neuvirth is the young goalie playing extremely well for the Washington Capitals in that team’s Stanley Cup quest. Smith and Hackett will face off against one another beginning Friday as the Milwaukee Admirals and Houston Aeros meet in the West Division Finals.
Smith has won both his games against Hackett and the Aeros this season. On Feb. 18, Smith stopped 34 of 35 as the Admirals posted a 2-1 shootout victory. On April 1, Smith turned aside 22 of 24 in Milwaukee’s 5-2 win.
Against the Aeros this season, Smith has played 125 minutes and stopped 56 of 59 shots (94.9%). He’s won both games and has a 1.44 goals against average.
Hackett is 1-1-1 against Milwaukee. His victory was a 3-2 overtime win in Houston against Mark Dekanich on March 15. Hackett has played 162 minutes against Milwaukee this year with a 2.96 goals against average. He’s stopped 58 of 66 shots (87.9%).
Certainly, goaltending is going to be the deciding factor in this next series, as it always is. Can the Admirals frustrate Hackett as they did April 1? Can Smith and the Admirals slow down a potent offensive club led by former Red Garrett winner Patrick O’Sullivan?
Since the Admirals are playing Houston, I figured I’d leave you with tunes from or about Houston. I’ll start this with a story, though, as I’m wont to do.
I used to host a talk show in Madison, WI. I wanted the show to be more than sports, because I have other interests. It dabbled in sports, very little politics and a lot of pop culture.
Radio stations receive mailings that suggest guests on a variety of topics. One time, I came across a man named Skipper Lee Frazier
. Mr. Frazier had written a book about his time as a disc jockey in Houston, but he was so much more.
He managed and promoted bands. He exposed Houston to “black music”. At a time when music could seriously break down doors, Skipper Lee Frazier was the guy holding the battering ram. The biggest band he managed was Archie Bell and the Drells
I called the number and it rang to a funeral home. It turns out he owns a funeral home! We spoke for about ten minutes and he said he’d enjoy coming on my show.
After one segment of the show, I realized I hadn’t begun to scratch the surface with this man. The next thing I know, we had him on for an hour. He had so many great stories about James Brown, Archie Bell, etc. I hope you click on his name above and find out a little more. (Also, click on Archie Bell’s name. Interesting stuff about him. His brother, Ricky, was an all-american football player and played in the NFL.) Frazier still does a gospel show on the radio. A couple years ago he was featured on billboards around the city. He does his show from the funeral home.
Yesterday, I featured Dean Martin’s “Houston” to close. Today, Houston funkmeisters Archie Bell and the Drells give you some music to “Tighten Up” to
. See you Friday.