Thursday, August 30, 2018

Washington Capitals: One and Done -- The Goalies

We took a look at the 14 skaters who dressed for only one game as a Washington Capital, including nine players whose only NHL appearance was with the Caps.  Now, in the final installment of “one-and-done,” we look at four goaltenders who appeared just once for the Capitals.

Robbie Moore, “Phacing a Phamiliar Phoe”

By today’s goaltender standards, where size and filling the net are hallmarks of NHL netminders, Robbie Moore would be almost unrecognizable.  At five-feet, five inches tall and 155 pounds, he was among the smallest goaltenders ever to dress for an NHL game.  Perhaps his size was a factor in not being drafted by an NHL team, although he was drafted as a 20-year old in the 11th round (187th overall) by the New England Whalers of the World Hockey Association in their 1974 amateur draft, after Moore had completed two of his four seasons in the University of Michigan program.

Moore never played for the Whalers, completing his four-year stint with the Wolverines and then playing a season with the University of Western Ontario in 1976-1977.  Then, at the age of 24, he signed his first pro deal, joining the Philadelphia Flyers organization as a free agent.  He toiled in Maine with the AHL Mariners for the better part of the next two seasons before getting his first NHL opportunity in 1978-1979, and he certainly took advantage of it.  It came under difficult circumstances for the Flyers, who were dealing with what would be a career-ending eye injury to goalie Bernie Parent.  In early March, Moore got the call to try to fill the void and pitched a 22-save, 5-0 shutout against the Colorado Rockies.

Moore would go on to post a 3-0-1 win-loss record with a sterling 1.77 goals against average and a .927 save percentage in five appearances with the Flyers.  Unfortunately for Moore, the Flyers had a Calder Trophy winning goalie in waiting in Pete Peeters who would go 29-5-5 the following season to win the prize as the NHL’s top rookie.  Moore never played for the Flyers again, returning to Maine for two more AHL seasons with the Mariners.

After the 1980-1981 season, Moore signed as a free agent with the Minnesota North Stars and played for the Nashville North Stars in the Central Hockey League.  Minnesota did not see enough in Moore to hold on to him and traded him to the Caps in August 1982 along with an 11th round draft pick for Wes Jarvis and Rollie Boutin.

It would not take long for Moore to make his first, and what would be his last appearance with the Caps.  After opening the 1982-1983 seasons with a 5-4 win over the New York Rangers, the Caps had a home-and-home set against the Flyers.  Washington lost the opening game of the set, 3-2, at Capital Centre before heading to Philadelphia the following night. Pat Riggin opened the game in goal for the Caps, but with the Caps nursing a 2-1 lead in the second period was lit up for three goals in a span of 1:37 to give the Flyers a 4-2 lead.  Moore opened the third period for the Caps and allowed an early goal to Brian Propp.  The Caps scored twice to make it a 5-4 game, but with Moore on the bench for an extra attacker, Bill Barber sealed the 6-4 Flyer win with an empty net goal in the last minute.  Moore would be pinned with the loss, finishing with six saves on seven shots faced in 19:43 of ice time, his career line with the Caps.

Moore would finish the season with the Hershey Bears and then play one more season of pro hockey, that with the Milwaukee Admirals of the IHL, before his pro career ended at the age of 29.

Alain Raymond, “Done in by Dineen”

For Alain Raymond, the journey was a long one to his first and only game with the Capitals and in the NHL, for that matter.  He was taken in the 11th round of the 1983 draft (215th overall), one spot after defenseman Uwe Krupp, who played in 729 NHL games with five teams.  Raymond played three more seasons in Canadian juniors, with Trois-Rivieres Draveurs in the QMJHL.  After completing his career in juniors, he joined the Fort Wayne Komets of the IHL in 1986-1987.  In his second season with the Komets, Raymond got his chance in the NHL. 

In December of the 1987-1988 season, number one goalie Pete Peeters suffered an eye injury, and the Caps needed a back-up for Clint Malarchuk.  Raymond was brought up to do so for a contest in Hartford against Whalers.  Malarchuk struggled early, allowing three goals on 14 shots in the first period as Hartford took a 3-1 lead into the first intermission.

Raymond got the call to open the second period and kept Hartford off the scoreboard long enough for Greg Adams and Kevin Hatcher to score goals to tie the game.  Kevin Dineen scored mid-way through the period to restore the Whaler lead, but Hatcher scored his second of the game with less than two minutes left in the period to tie the game once more.  The only goal of the third period came in the tenth minute, Dineen scoring his second of the game, giving the Whalers a 5-4 win, Raymond taking the loss.

Raymond saw the experience as a valuable learning tool, remarking that "I'm happy I got a chance to play. That should help me when I come back."  However, while he would be recalled by the Caps on other occasions, he would not appear in another game for the Caps, nor would he do so for any other NHL team.  He returned to Fort Wayne after his single appearance, and he would play another six seasons at the minor league level before his career came to a close after the 1991-1992 season at age 26.

Mike Rosati, “A Long Way to Go for One Game”

One would be hard pressed to find a player who put in more miles over more time zones to get to the NHL than goalie Mike Rosati.  His career started in more or less a conventional fashion, the Toronto native being taken in the seventh round of the 1988 entry draft out of the Hamilton Steelhawks of the Ontario Hockey League by the New York Rangers.  And with that began a ten-year journey that finally ended in an NHL arena. 

After he was drafted, Rosati spent another year in Canadian junior (with the Niagara Falls Thunder) before playing a year in the ECHL with the Erie Panthers.  Then, it was off to Europe, where he would play six seasons with HC Bolzano in Italy.  In 1996-1997 he moved on to Adler Mannheim in Germany, where he spent another two seasons. 

Following his second season in Germany, Rosati returned to North America, signing as a free agent with the Caps.  He did not have to wait long to get a chance for the big club.  In early November, with the Caps’ backup situation behind number one goalie Olaf Kolzig depleted, Rosati was called up to back up Kolzig for a game in Ottawa against the Senators. 

Things did not go well for the Caps or for Kolzig, who allowed five goals on 16 shots before being pulled in favor of Rosati 11:49 into the second period.  Sometimes, pulling a goalie is intended to settle a team and provide a jolt.  Inserting Rosati into the lineup had the intended effect.  The Caps scored two goals 1:06 apart later in the second period to tie the game.  Washington poured it on in the third period, scoring three goals, while Rosati shut down the Senators to give the Caps an 8-5 win.

That would be all for Rosati with the Caps and in the NHL.  He finished the season splitting time between the Portland Pirates and the Manitoba Moose.  After the 1998-199 season he returned to Europe, rejoining Adler Mannheim, with whom he finished his pro career in 2002-2003, while also representing Italy in international play.

Rosati’s turn with the Caps represents something of an historical oddity.  He was the first goalie in the history of the league since shots on goal and save percentages were recorded to appear in one game, get credit for the win, and do so with a perfect 1.000 save percentage (Cody Rutkowsky became the second with St. Louis in 2002-2003).

Corey Hirsch, “It’s Not Over ‘til It’s Over”

At the 1991 NHL entry draft, the New York Rangers drafted Alex Kovalev with their first pick, 15th overall.  Kovalev went on to play more than 1,300 regular season games in the NHL.  None of the next five picks for the Rangers ever appeared in an NHL game.  Their seventh pick, Corey Hirsch (taken in the eighth round, 169th overall), was the only other pick from that Rangers draft class to appear in at least 100 NHL games.  One of them was in a Caps jersey, but it would take a while for that to happen.

Hirsch, who had already played three seasons with the Kamloops Blazers in the OHL when he was drafted by the Rangers, played one more season with Kamloops before joining the pro ranks with the Binghamton Rangers of the AHL in 1992-1993. But for a four-game stint with the Rangers in that 1992-1993 season, he spent three years with Binghamton before he was traded to the Vancouver Canucks in April 1995 for forward Nathan LaFayette.  Hirsch appeared in 101 regular season games for the Canucks over four seasons with limited success, going 32-42-13, 3.13, .896 in 101 appearances, although he did finish fifth in the Calder Trophy voting for top NHL rookie in the 1995-1996 season. 

After his fourth season in Vancouver, his NHL tour began in earnest.  In August 1999 he was signed as a free agent by the Nashville Predators.  Late in the 1999-2000 season the Predators, for whom he never played, traded Hirsch to the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim for future considerations, which turned out to be one dollar.  Hirsch never played for the Mighty Ducks, either, and the following October finally made his way to Washington as a free agent.  But even there, there was a bit of a detour.  Instead of joining the Caps’ AHL affiliate Portland Pirates, he was lent to the Albany River Rats.  He played four games for the Rats, losing all of them.

Hirsch finally made his way to Portland, but it would not be until March that he would get a chance in Washington.  Backup goalie Craig Billington was injured, opening a spot on the Caps’ bench behind Olaf Kolzig for a game against the Ottawa Senators.  The Caps opened the scoring on a Joe Sacco goal less than three minutes into the game, but the tide turned soon thereafter.  Ottawa scored twice to take a 2-1 lead into the first intermission, and they they scored goals 62 seconds apart early in the second period to take a 4-1 lead.  The Caps got one back on a power play goal by Peter Bondra, but Radek Bonk solved Kolzig on a power play to restore the three goal lead going into the third period.

Enter Hirsch.  Hirsch kept the Senators off the board early in the period in what had all the looks of mop-up duty.  And then, Andrei Nikolishin scored at the 6:22 mark to cut the lead to two goals.  Seven minutes later, Trent Whitfield scored.  Less than two minutes after that, Sergei Gonchar tied the game. Finally, with just 1:28 left, Steve Konowalchuk completed the comeback to give the Caps – and Hirsch – a most improbable 6-5 win.

It would be the last game Hirsch would play in Washington.  He finished the season in Portland and split time the following season between Portland and the Philadelphia Phantoms.  After the 2001-2002 season he was signed away as a free agent by the Dallas Stars for whom he would play two games in his final NHL action.  After that season he headed to Europe, playing in Sweden, Switzerland, and Germany before his pro career ended after the 2004-2005 season.

Hirsch’s win with the Caps was his last in the NHL, part of a long hockey journey that had its joys on the ice – drinking from the Stanley Cup – and challenges off the ice And in his 20-minute career with the Caps and his struggles outside the rink, he stands as an inspirational argument that it’s never over until it’s over.