The Chicago Blackhawks lost starting goaltender Corey Crawford to an upper-body injury, that he might have injured during the game against the Philadelphia Flyers in a 4-0 win last Tuesday night. With backup goaltender Anti Raanta next in line to cover for the ailing Crawford, he played great in the shutout win against Philly, but struggled in his next two games against two offensively talented teams in the Nashville Predators (3-2 loss), and the St. Louis Blues (3-2 loss), last Wednesday, and Saturday night.
Ending the short 2 game road trip was yet another challenge just 23 hours later when the 4-2-1 ottawa Senators were waiting for them at the United Center on West Madison street. One issue during the short road trip that almost seemed clear, was that Hawks head coach Joel Quenneville was not going to start his backup Raanta in three games in four days. This created a dream come true for recent call-up Scott Darling.
Darling who grew up a Blackhawks fan in Lemont, Illinois (southwestern suburb of Chicago), had a childhood dream to do what it takes to play for his favorite hometown team in Chi-Town. After playing in the midget/junior hockey circuits gaining valuable, professional training in with the High Performance Hockey League, North American Hockey League, Eastern Junior Hockey League, and the United States Hockey League, he was scouted, and drafted by the Phoenix Coyotes, but never played in the organization.
Darling moved his talents to the NCAA Division 1, where he played for the University of Maine Black Bears. While playing in Hockey East with the Bears he appeared in 51 games, with a 25-20-6 record, leaving his College team just after two seasons to pursue his professional hockey career. Darling played semi-pro hockey in the Central Hockey League, East Coast Hockey League, and the Southern Professional Hockey League while he continued to develop and never refusing to give up on his dream.
In 2013-14 season, Darling got his chance to move one step up on his resume when he signed with the American Hockey League’s Milwaukee Admirals. The 6’-6” goaltender appeared in 26 games for the Nashville Predators AHL affiliate, posting a 13-6-2 record, a 2.00 goals against and save percentage of .933, splitting time with Nashville’s other goaltending prospects Magnus Hellberg (21 games), and Marek Mazanec (31 games).
On July 1, 2014 The Chicago Blackhawks signed Darling to a one-year deal as his first professional contract. This season with the Blackhawks AHL team, the Rockford Ice Hogs, Darling has a record of 2-0, with a goals against of 1.44, and save percentage of .948, only giving up three goals on 58 shots. On Sunday he made his NHL debut with the Blackhawks, and made his dream come true.
Darling started the game against the Ottawa Senators at the loud United Center. With a group off 30 friends and family in attendance, and possibly the 16,000 residents back in Lemont. Darling did not disappoint, turning away 33 of 32 Senators shots for his first National Hockey League win.
With his first win, Darling has earned another start at the United Center when the Anaheim Ducks come to the United Center. Seems like dreams do come true.