Goaltender wins first NHL game for hometown team
It was a special night on Sunday for goaltender Scott Darling when he made his NHL debut for the Chicago Blackhawks, the team he grew up watching, and led them to a 2-1 victory.
Darling is a native of nearby Lemont, Illinois and made 32 saves in front of multiple family and friends during the win against the Ottawa Senators. He made 16 of his saves in the third period alone and earned recognition as the first star of the game.
Though just 25, it has been a long journey for Darling to make it to the NHL. He spent the 2007-08 season in the USHL with the Indiana Ice and posted a 27-10-2 record to help the Ice finish first in the League’s Eastern Conference. His 27 victories were the second-most among USHL goaltenders, and he led the League with seven shootout wins. He was also second in the USHL in saves (1,199) and minutes played (2,391) that season.
Darling came to the Ice after being selected in the 2007 USHL Draft. He also was selected by the Arizona Coyotes in the sixth round (153rd overall) of the 2007 NHL Draft before continuing his development in the USHL.
Darling went on to play two collegiate seasons at the University of Maine before embarking on his professional career. That career took him to nine different teams in four different leagues, including the SPHL, ECHL, CHL, and AHL before making his NHL debut on Sunday.
The goaltender put together a solid 2013-14 season in the AHL with the Milwaukee Admirals, posting a 13-6-2 record with a 2.00 GAA and .933 SV%. He caught the attention of the Chicago Blackhawks and they signed him as a free agent this past offseason. After winning both of his starts this season with the Rockford IceHogs, AHL affiliate of the Blackhawks, Darling was called up to Chicago last week and earned his first start on Sunday.
Notes: Two other USHL alumni were in the lineup for the Blackhawks during Darling’s debut – Patrick Sharp (Thunder Bay Flyers) and Brandon Saad (Team USA) – while four USHL alumni were in the lineup for the Ottawa Senators – Erik Condra (Lincoln Stars), Alex Chiasson (Des Moines Buccaneers), Eric Gryba (Green Bay Gamblers), and Patrick Wiecioch (Omaha Lancers).
USHL stats – Scott Darling
Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, the USHL celebrates its 13th season as the nation's only Tier I junior hockey league in 2014-15. A record 35 players were chosen in the 2014 NHL Draft and more than 300 players on team rosters last season committed to NCAA Division I schools, further establishing the USHL as the world’s foremost producer of junior hockey talent. For more information, visit us on the web at www.USHL.com or visit the League’s social media platforms, including Facebook (/ushlhockey), twitter (@USHL), and YouTube (/ushlinteractive). Fans can also watch USHL action all season long, live or on-demand via FASTHockey (ushl.fasthockey.com).
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