Pro Hockey Talk is taking a look back at the year in hockey. We’ll be presenting you with the best goals, saves, moments, players and more as we remember 2018.
It was an eventful year across the hockey world with several memorable moments that stood out.
Some of them were amazing and improbable. Some of them were sad and devastating. Some of them were just plain weird.
Here we take a look at some of the ones that stood out the most.
Capitals Stanley Cup and summer of celebration
After years of tremendous regular season success and eventual playoff heartbreak, the Washington Capitals finally broke through their second round glass ceiling, exorcised all of their postseason demons, beat their arch-rivals the Pittsburgh Penguins, and then went on to win their first ever Stanley Cup. By doing so they shook their postseason choker label and Alex Ovechkin picked up the one piece of hardware his Hall of Fame career was missing. Then the Capitals partied like wild throughout the entire summer and lived up their championship season publicly in a way few other teams have in recent years.
Then they came back at the start of the 2018-19 season as good as they were a year ago, with Ovechkin performing at an even higher level.
[Related: Alex Ovechkin is not slowing down]
U.S. Women’s Olympic hockey team wins gold
The United States women won gold for the second time at the Olympics, and the first time since 1998, with a thrilling gold medal game victory against Canada that needed a shootout to determine a winner.
It was there that Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson scored the winner on an incredible move, with Maddie Rooney making the big save to clinch it.
You can watch the entire shootout again.
Scott Foster plays for the Chicago Blackhawks
The Chicago Blackhawks have fallen off from their championship dynasty days and are on track to miss the playoffs for the second year in a row. The highlight of their 2017-18 season was the performance of emergency backup goalie Scott Foster who was called on to play 14 minutes in a game against the Winnipeg Jets. He not only played, he stopped all seven shots he faced against one of the best teams in the league.
Foster, 36, spends his days as an accountant and was called on to suit up when Blackhawks goalie Anton Forsberg suffered an injury in warmups.
The emergency backup goalie is something you see on occasion throughout an NHL season but they almost never have to play. When Collin Delia, who was making his first NHL start for the Blackhawks that night, exited the game with an injury … Foster had to play. He was incredible.
[Related: Scott Foster, accountant by day makes saves with Blackhawks]
Roberto Luongo‘s speech
Not all of the top moments from 2018 were the result of something happy. Following another school shooting, this time in Parkland, Florida, Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo, a resident of Parkland, gave an emotional pre-game speech before their Feb. 22 game against the Capitals.
The Humboldt Broncos first game back on the ice
The hockey world was rocked by tragedy on April 6 when a bus carrying the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team crashed, killing 16 people (including 10 players) and seriously injuring 13 more. In the weeks after the accident there were countless memorials and tributes, including people across Canada and the United States leaving hockey sticks out on their front porch. Five months after the crash the Broncos returned to the ice, with two surviving players from the accident (Brayden Camrud and Derek Patter). The game was televised nationally throughout Canada on TSN and in the United States on the NHL Network without commercials. The Broncos ended up losing their first game, 2-1, on their way to a 21-13-2 record in 37 games.
The team officially retired the numbers of every player that was involved in the bus crash.
[Related: Humboldt Broncos return to ice five months after bus crash]
Sedins’ last game in Vancouver
After 17 glorious seasons Henrik and Daniel Sedin retired at the conclusion of the 2017-18 season. They went out in an incredible way by teaming up, as they did so many times throughout their careers, for the game-winning goal in overtime of their final game in Vancouver.
It was Daniel getting the goal, his second of the game.
They played one more game after that, a road game in Edmonton, that they dropped in a shootout.
Willie O’Ree finally gets his Hall of Fame call
It was long overdue, but the Hockey Hall of Fame finally did the right thing by inducting Willie O’Ree into the builders category.
O’Ree, who is legally blind in his right eye, broke the NHL’s color barrier during the 1957-58 season as a member of the Boston Bruins. His playing career at the NHL level consisted of just four goals and 10 assists over 45 games, but he was still one of the game’s most influential figures and a legend for the Los Angeles Blades and San Diego Gulls of the Western Hockey League.
[What Willie O’Ree’s Hall of Fame induction means to me]
All Gritty, all the time
Some of the hockey moments from 2018 were also … bizarre. Like the introduction of Gritty, the Philadelphia Flyers’ new mascot who has already become one of the most notable and recognizable mascots in the league. Whether you love or hate Gritty (and if you hate Gritty, it will probably hunt you down and tackle you) you have to admit that his introduction created quite a buzz around the sports world.
[Related: Meet Gritty, the Flyers’ horrifyingly delightful new mascot]
The NHL had to tell Brad Marchand to stop licking people
Speaking of bizarre moments, Boston Bruins star forward and Hall of Fame agitator Brad Marchand had to be reprimanded by the NHL for licking opponents during the playoffs. After licking Toronto’s Leo Komarov in the first-round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs (the second time during the season that he did that to Komarov) he did the same thing to Tampa Bay Lightning forward Ryan Callahan in the second round. The NHL had to tell him to stop, threatening supplemental discipline if he did not.
Germany’s silver medal at the Olympics
The 2018 men’s Olympic hockey tournament did not feature NHL players for the first time since the 1994 games, but that did not mean the tournament was without its excitement. It gave a bunch of players that wouldn’t have ordinarily had a chance to play on such a stage an opportunity to make a name for themselves, and no team took advantage of that more than the German team that went on an incredible run to the Gold medal game. And for a while, it looked like they were actually going to pull it off until a late goal from Russia sent the game to overtime, where the Russians would end up winning on a power play goal from Kirill Kaprizov.
What was your top hockey moment from the past year?
More PHT Year in Review:
Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.