NAHL grads Kane, Saad and Darling win Stanley Cup
June 16, 2015
Congratulations to the 2015 Stanley Cup Champions, the Chicago Blackhawks. The Blackhawks defeated the Tampa Bay Lighting, 2-0 in Game 6 on Monday night to win the series 4 games to 2.
The Blackhawks had three players that were alumni and previously played in the NAHL including, forward Brandon Saad (Mahoning Valley Phantoms, 2008-09, NAHL Rookie of the Year), forward Patrick Kane (USNTDP, 2004-06) and goaltender Scott Darling (North Iowa Outlaws, 2005-07).
Kane had Chicago’s second goal in the game and assisted on the game-winner. Saad picked up an assist on Kane’s goal in the game, which secured the win. Saad finidhed the playoffs with 11 points. The Blackhawks went to backup Scott Darling during the Nashville series in the opening round. Darling won Game 1 in relief and started Games 3 through 6 before Crawford won in relief of him to close out the series. Darling had strong numbers as the backup this season.
Darling was born and raised in Chicago and became the first Chicago-born native to win the Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks. “I watched the Blackhawks win the Cup with my Mom back in 2013 at a restaurant. Now to be here is dream come true. This is the most incredible opportunity I have had in my life. I am grateful for every team I have played for along the way. I grew up here, I played youth hockey here, so it means a lot to be here and win a Stanley Cup.”
Tampa Bay had four members that were involved in the NAHL: Goaltender Ben Bishop (Texas Tornado, 2004-05, NAHL All-Rookie Team), Head Coach Jon Cooper (Texarkana/St. Louis Bandits, 2003-08, Two-time NAHL Coach of the Year), defenseman Andrej Sustr (Kenai River Brown Bears, 2008-09) and defenseman Matt Carle (USNDTP, 2000-02).
Following the completion of the Stanley Cup Finals on Monday night, it was revealed that Bishop played the majority of the series with a torn groin muscle. Bishop was injured during Game 2. He missed part of the third period as he tried to stabilize it on the fly. He played in Game 3 but was scratched from Game 4 in an attempt to get extra rest. He returned for the last two games and allowed two goals in each."It was one of those things where you don't want to put your team in a tough situation," Bishop said. "You want to play the game, no matter what. I barely got through Game 3 (when he made 36 saves in a 3-2 win), and I didn't want to go out there and then be gone for the rest of the series. I thought [backup Andrei Vasilevskiy] at 100 percent was a little bit of a better option [in Game 4]."
"It's kind of hard to talk about it now," Bishop said. "You think about how long the season has been, how close we were. It feels like every game of the series could have gone one way or another. It's just a terrible feeling. I don't know how to describe it. Listening to that [celebration on the ice while in the dressing room], it just makes you sick."
“Ben has proven time and time again that we don’t make the playoffs without him and he put the team on his back. We don’t get to this part of the playoffs without it. I think he played 27 games in a row before an injury (torn groin) took him out. For him to do that as someone who had never been through a situation like this before, you can’t say enough about him and what he did for us,” said Tampa head coach Jon Cooper.
“This is different for me. In my coaching tenure, it is my 6th championship and first time to be on the losing end. It is going to take time to digest. I’ve grown as a coach. I have learned from the other great coaches in this league… how to prepare your team, how do other teams prepare and how to go through a run like this,” continued Cooper. “I will look back on and maybe think about some of the things that did go well and didn’t go so well, but I am grateful to have been through the experience as much as it hurts. The pilot light has been lit to get back here and I am looking forward to September.”