Since we are currently in the middle of the off-season, and the free agency period not quite upon us yet, I thought it would be cool to start a little piece on this blog called "Great Moments In Blackhawks History". I think it's always fun to look back at some of the old Blackhawks teams and players and pick out moments and games that you will always remember for some reason, and many of these are able to be found on YouTube after some digging around. Feel free to leave your own thoughts on these moments.
Tonight, I thought we'd take a look back at a great night for the Blackhawks that occured on April 23rd, 1994, featured in the video I have posted above. This was the night of Game 3 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals. The 'Hawks were taking on the Toronto Maple Leafs, and had dug themselves a bit of a hole by losing Game 1 by a score of 5-1, and then losing Game 2 by a final of 1-0 in overtime, both games taking place in Toronto. So, they were down 2-0 in the series, but it was coming back to the Chicago Stadium where the Hawks looked to take back the momentum from the Maple Leafs.
This is where Tony Amonte enters into the fray. Amonte had only been acquired by the Blackhawks a month before this game. He was part of the trade that saw Brian Noonan and Stephane Matteau head to the Rangers, while the 'Hawks also acquired Matt Oates. Amonte played in the final seven games of the regular season for the Hawks and recorded a goal and three assists for four points, and was held scoreless in the first two contests in Toronto. This would be the night, however, where I think Amonte truly became a Chicago Blackhawk.
In the video, you see Amonte pick up his first goal very early in the 1st period when he digs the puck from the side of the net and stuffs it past Felix Potvin, who was in his prime as a goaltender at that point. My favorite part of this goal? Seeing Jeremy Roenick's youthful exuberance as he basically jumps around on his skates and then celebrates with Amonte afterwards. Good stuff.
The second goal came on the power play just a minute later where Amonte just picks the puck up in the slot and manages to flip a wrist shot past a fallen Potvin. Talk about a blast from the past: This power play squad features Chris Chelios and Gary Suter on the blue-line, with Amonte, Roenick and Joe Murphy up front. That's gotta bring back some memories, eh?
The most awesome part of the video is when you see Amonte pick up the hat trick goal in the 2nd period. My personal favorite part of this goal is Pat Foley's call: "Now Roenick takes it away, looks ahead for Amonte, carries it over the line, fires! He scores! Amonte with the hat trick! A bullet from the top of the far circle!". Wow, just the way the excitement in his voice builds up perfectly as Amonte takes it into the zone, and his "HE SCORES!" as the puck goes in captures the moment perfectly. That is why Pat Foley will always be the true voice of the Blackhawks.
Amonte wraps up his awesome performance by scoring his 4th goal of the night on a 2-on-1 by wristing one past Potvin. Pat Foley again: "A night he'll never forget!". Once again, just an awesome call.
The Blackhawks would go on to win Game 3 by a score of 5-4, cutting Toronto's series lead to 2-1, and Amonte would become a fan favorite for the next seven years or so wearing the Indianhead sweater. Truly a great night indeed.
Just to add a couple of my other favorite parts and observations of the video:
- Chicago Stadium, plain and simple. There will never be a louder or better place to watch hockey ever again. Hearing the crowd erupt when the goals are scored and hats cascading down after Amonte's third goal gives me chills.
- Was there anyone else who just simply did not like Felix Potvin? Maybe it was the fact that he played a very strong series against the Hawks (at least in the games away from Chicago), but for some reason I remember disliking him quite a bit at the time.
Hope you enjoyed this look back, and go ahead and leave your own thoughts on a great night for Tony Amonte and the Blackhawks from 14 years ago.