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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Skinny on "Rooting for Laundry: Kinkaid vs. the Isles"

A wise Long Islander by the name of Jerry Seinfeld said it best.  "We're rooting for laundry".

Such was the situation I faced when the Islanders found Keith Kinkaid in the other net for New Jersey on Monday.

Kinkaid isn't just a rookie goalie, and isn't even just a Long Islander.  He's the goalie that brought my alma mater, Union College, to the Division I National Playoffs for the first time in 2011. While it had been 25 years since my graduation I still followed Union's hockey team closely as I broadcast over 100 games while I was in school.

Kinkaid left after that season, and led by Troy Grosenick in goal, Union went to the Frozen Four in 2012. Two years later, in April 2014, Union won it all  - the first time one of my teams has done so since the '86 Mets.

Now, as it turns out, three of the Islanders' biggest rivals now have players who appeared in the National Championship Game -- Ranger prospect Mat Bodie Captained the Squad, fellow defensemen Shayne Gostisbehere (who went +7, yes PLUS SEVEN, in the National Championship game) is one of Philadelphia's top defense prospects and even made his NHL debut earlier this season while Penguin prospect Jeff Taylor is still a sophomore at Union.

Hopefully they will all have long NHL careers, and they may even score a goal or two against the Isles along the way.  But Kinkaid (and perhaps next season, San Jose's Grosenick) is different -- it he wins, the Isles lose.  And in this sensational start of a season, that wasn't something I could root for.

I could remember only one one time that I felt even remotely similar -- on February 20, 1982 Chico Resch returned to the Coliseum (and I've written multiple times about what I thought about him!).  I had similar thoughts that night, but there was no shootouts or even overtime in the rules yet, and the Isles had a little winning streak going.  At 19:13 of the third, John Tonelli beat Chico for the 15th straight win.  It remains to this day the only time one NHL team has been better than its opponent over 60 minutes fifteen times in a row.  I rooted for laundry that night too.

Several people were kind enough to inquire about the conflict -- Howie  Rose mentioned it on the air just seconds into the game -- and I told a few that I was hoping for a scoreless tie, and then the Isles winning a 20-round shootout.

In the end it was close -- Kinkaid did himself, and his alma mater, proud. The Isles rallied from a 2-0 deficit to tie on two goals that certainly couldn't be blamed on the goalie, and then won in a shootout. Albeit, it was only 5 rounds, not 20.

And when I looked at the NHL statistics this morning, I could do so with a certain sense of pride. Only three Union College goalies have ever played in the NHL.  Steve Baker played in 57 games, all for the Rangers, from 1979-80 to 1982-83 (and we all know how those four seasons ended!).

The other two are Troy Grosenick and Keith Kinkaid:

2014-2015 - Regular Season - Goaltender 
Player Team GP GS  SA GA GAA W L OT Sv Sv% SO
1 Troy Grosenick SJS 2 2 58 3 1.53 1 1 0 55 0.948 1
2 Keith Kinkaid NJD 5 2 86 5 1.71 0 1 2 81 0.942 0
3 Pekka Rinne NSH 26 26 730 46 1.75 19 6 1 684 0.937 3

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