When you’re the underdog, sometimes you have to get creative to improve your chances. When the Tenafly High School (0-5-1) came into their game against undefeated St. Joseph’s (6-0-0), they knew they’d have to think of something.
Unfortunately, it didn’t last long. Tenafly was hit with a delay of game penalty right after the opening faceoff. After a discussion, the officials straightened things out and removed the extra netminder.
Tenafly playing with one goalie.. Refs are able to locate the rule in the book..
— New Jersey Hockey (@HockeyAdvantage) December 21, 2015
The USA Hockey rulebook makes it clear:
Rule 203 (c) – It is recommended that each team shall have a substitute goalkeeper who shall be fully dressed and equipped to play. Each team shall be allowed one goalkeeper on the ice at any time during the game.
(In case you’re curious, NHL rule 5.3 makes the same provision. One at a time, please, goalies.)
Obviously, Tenafly had that substitute goaltender ready to go. They just weren’t able to have him on the ice.
“I had expressed to [St. Joseph’s], ‘Hey, listen, this is what my team is comprised of. I have two seniors, most of my team is freshmen and sophomores. …We’re trying to build, I don’t think it’s going to be beneficial for either team,'” Escala said. “But they insisted on playing the game.”
With no choice but to take the ice, Escala decided to get crafty.
“I recalled reading it in a book about [a team that did it] in Rhode Island years ago and was like, ‘Let me try this,'” Escala said. “I did some research and was like, ‘I know what the answer’s going to be, but I’m still going to try this and let’s see what the officials say.'”
Back in the 1960s, it wasn’t as clear as to what the officials would say. That’s when Dick Ernst, head coach of North Providence High School in Rhode Island, successfully pulled off the two-goalie maneuver:
Among my many unique hockey defenses and strategies, I resorted to using two goalies in 1965 against the great Joe Cavanagh-led Cranston East team. Not realizing the situation, Joe won the opening face-off, raced around a defender, faked around the first goalie and looked up to see his shot blocked by the second goalie.
While Escala’s intent may have been a farfetched attempt to find some sort of competitive edge, it became more than that for his club.
“At first, it started as, you know what, this may be our only way to actually try to win this game,” Escala added. “But then it (became) more of a statement, saying, ‘Why does St. Joe’s want to play a public school that’s down, working their way back up? It doesn’t really benefit either team.'”
“I got a few laughs, a few, ‘Are you serious, Coach?’ And then I think it gave [the players] some enthusiasm,” Escala said. “I knew they were going into this game thinking, ‘My God, this is going to be a tough game,’ and it kind of loosened the atmosphere. They started getting excited about playing the game.”
Tenafly lost the game 10-0, managing just five shots on goal.
Nice try, coach. You would’ve gotten away with it, too, if it wasn’t for that pesky rulebook…