Monday, November 23, 2009

Absurd Goalie Monday: Blaine Lacher

It is the Thanksgiving week for those in the US, and many fans could consider this inductee as a turkey of sort. Brought in for the hype of it, he had a decent season to start out with, but could never follow through on the rest of the hype. A one-hit wonder of sorts, this guy did have his college career to fall back on. This week's AGM: Blaine Lacher.

Lacher had skipped the major junior route to play junior A in Saskatchewan with the Melville Millionaires in the SJHL. He played 39 games with Melville and compiled a GAA with 3.57 GAA as a 19-year-old. With those numbers, it was good enough for Lacher to get into the NCAA with Lake Superior State University. However, the freshman year for Lacher was a rough one, as he was deemed academically ineligible for the season, ruining his freshman year.

The sophomore year was decent enough since Lacher was able to play for the Lakers, but it was a short-lived season. Lacher started up decent enough going 5-1-0 to start the season, but midway through the season it came crashing down. Lacher got sucked into the big life of Sault St. Marie, especially coming from small town Medicine Hat, Alberta. Lacher was arrested for disorderly conduct during one night of drinking, and while the charges were dropped-- the damage was done. Lacher was suspended for two games and once coming back was lit up by a lowly Ohio State squad for 15 goals in two games, putting Lacher on the bench for the rest of the season behind Darrin Madeley. The Lakers went on to with the NCAA Championship for the 1992 Tournament. After the season, Lacher went to head coach Jeff Jackson and pleaded his case for more playing time.

Lacher got his playing time for his junior and senior season, getting his chance as a starter after getting the confidence from his coach. During the junior season, Lacher put up a 24-5-3 season with a 2.59 GAA, but the best was yet to come. The senior season for Lacher was what got him noticed. Lacher had a 20-5-4 record with six shutouts and 1.98 GAA, while during the season setting the record for the all-time consecutive scoreless streak at 375 minutes and one second, a record that still holds today. It was a great season, personally, for Lacher-- he got a contract as a free agent from the Boston Bruins.

While his first pro season was hastened to start thanks to the Lockout of 1994, Lacher got his chance in time. After tuning up with a game in Providence, the Lockout ended and Lacher started out in Boston. From the start, he took control of the congested goaltending debacle in Boston, beating out Craig Billington and Vincent Riendeau for the starters role when Lacher went 6-1-0 in his first seven starts. With the play of Jim Carey in Washington, the two were going neck-and-neck for biggest surprise. Yet, even with a hot start-- it started to fade for Lacher as he dealt with a hamstring injury throughout the season. He still played well enough to get the Bruins into the playoffs with a 19-11-2 record and 2.41 GAA for the season. Yet, with the playoffs, Lacher wasn't able to hold off the eventual Stanley Cup champion New Jersey Devils, losing in five games, even though he didn't get much help from his teammates in the goal department.

There was a lot of buzz between both Lacher and Carey thanks to their surprising, out-of-nowhere performances for the shortened season. Yet, both had similar falling outs of the NHL. Lacher's was much quicker to fall from grace. Lacher started off the season with plenty of struggles, posting a 1-4-2 in his first eight games, being replaced in one getting a no-decision. While he was able to get back with a 2-1-0 record, it was enough to keep him from getting sent to the AHL's Providence Bruins thanks to another logjam in the Boston net.

The rest of the 1995-96 season was spent split between Providence and the Cleveland Lumberjacks. In Providence, Lacher played eight games going 3-5-0 and while in Cleveland, Lacher did no better at 3-4-1. The 1996-97 season would be Lacher's last professionally as he spent the year with the Grand Rapids Griffins of the IHL and went 1-8-1 before calling it a careers.

As of 2004, Lacher had moved back to Medicine Hat, Alberta and had settled down with his wife, working for Goodyear as a tire builder. Lacher also coaches a local school and gives advice to his players about how great an experience college hockey is for players. Lacher is quoted to say he has no regrets when it comes to his career.

While Lacher's career was short, he still seems to be a name that is brought up a lot when it comes to one-trick-ponies in the NHL. I don't know if that's a good thing or not, but at least he won't be lost amongst the other goalies and players who have came and went from the game.

1 comment:

Graham Clayton said...

One of the quickest "hero to zero" careers in NHL history.