On This Date in Sports April 7, 1928: The Coach Saves the Day

In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com

New York Rangers coach Lester Patrick is pressed into service when Goalie Lorne Chabot suffers an eye injury in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals against the Montreal Maroons. Taking over in the second period, Patrick stopped 18 of 19 shots, as the Rangers won the game in overtime on a goal by Frank Boucher 2-1 to even the series. The Rangers would sign Joe Miller, a designated backup for all NHL teams, and won the series in five games.

In just their second season, the New Rangers made the Stanley Cup Finals against the Montreal Maroons. After finishing second in the American Division with a record of 19-6-9. The Rangers beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-4 and the Boston Bruins 5-2 in total-goal aggregate series in the playoffs. The Montreal Maroons, coached by Eddie Gerard, meanwhile beat the Ottawa Senators 3-1 and the rival Montreal Canadiens 3-2 in their total goal series.

The New York Rangers would find themselves at a disadvantage in the best-of-five Stanley Cup Finals as all five games were played at the Montreal Forum, with Madison Square Garden unavailable due to the circus. The Maroons took the opener 2-0, with goals from Red Dutton and Merlyn Phillips, as Clint Benedict earned the shutout win. Game 2 was scoreless when Rangers Goalie Lorne Chabot suffered an eye injury. At the time, it was rare for teams to carry a backup goalie. With no other options, coach Lester Patrick donned the pads and went into the game and played goalie. At the age of 44, Lester Patrick became the oldest player to ever play for the Stanley Cup. In his primetime, he was one of the top defensemen in the Pacific Coast Hockey League, playing for several teams, including the Victoria Aristocrats, the Spokane Canaries, the Victoria Cougars, and the Seattle Metropolitans. Ordering his check fiercely at center ice to keep the Maroons shots down. Bill Cook gave New York a 1-0 lead, 30 seconds into the third period, while the Maroons tied the game with 69 seconds left on a goal by Nels Stewart. The Rangers would win the game in overtime on a goal by Frank Boucher at 7:05 of sudden death.

After Game 2, the Rangers received permission to use Joe Miller, the goalie of the New York Americans, for the final three games of the series. The Maroons would record another 2-0 win in Game 3, with goals from Nels Stewart and Babe Siebert. Miller and the Rangers bounced back in Game 2, as Frank Boucher scored the game’s only goal in the second period. The Rangers would get two goals from Boucher in Game 5, as Merlyn Phillips scored Montreal’s lone tally as New York won the game 2-1 to capture the Stanley Cup, becoming the first NHL team from the United States to win the cup and the second overall. Showing his toughness, Joe Miller suffered two black eyes and a cut in the finale.