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Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Blackhawks practice is a fantasy camp for fan


During the 1938 Stanley Cup finals, the Chicago Black Hawks (spelled with two words, as was the style back then) lost goalie Mike Karakas to a toe injury, forcing the team to recruit a minor leaguer named Alfie Moore they found in a Toronto bar. Moore played the first game of the series, allowing only a single goal and earning the win. He was awarded a gold watch for his efforts, as gold watches were believed to ward off polio at the time.

On Monday, nearly three-quarters of a century later, the Blackhawks (consolidated to a single word, presumably for aerodynamics) found themselves in a similar pinch: Starting goaltender Corey Crawford was unable to practice due to a lower body injury (re: concussed groin), and the team needed someone -- ANYONE! -- to take drills. Goalie coach Stephane Waite placed a call to Scott Czarnik, a former Arizona State club team goaltender now studying at Illinois State.

Like similar situations with the Capitals and Coyotes in recent years, Czarnik suddenly found himself blocking pucks with the pros, cramming a dozen Christmases worth of childhood fantasy into a couple of morning workouts. Although he faced a relentless barrage of vulcanized rubber projectiles launched at perilous speeds, he lived to tell his tale.

After the practice, Blackhawks center Patrick Sharp jokingly told ESPN Chicago: "I didn't know if he was here to tape sticks, pick up the laundry or put the equipment on. We got a good kick out of him playing. He did a great job."

Even though the Blackhawks didn't make Czarnik available to the media, Page 2 tracked him down.

Page 2: What would you have been up to if you hadn't gotten the call to come play?

Czarnik: I would have definitely been sleeping. Just catching up on sleep like a typical college student.

How intimidating is Joel Quenneville's mustache in person?

Well, it commands attention and does a good job of making you really concentrate on what he's saying. But, yeah, it is very intimidating.