WATCH OUT, HERE IT COMES - Sports Illustrated Vault |
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Exciting as the action may be elsewhere on the ice, nowhere in hockey is it more concentrated than on the front porch of that lonely and tormented individual, the goalie. His is a game of cat and mouse, only in this case the mouse, also known as the puck, is five ounces of high-velocity aggression. With feline attention the goalie follows its erratic path, doing a mad dance between his goalposts to keep it always in sight. When it comes near, the goalie pounces—if he can. If it stays in his neighborhood for any length of time, there is bedlam: attackers crashing against defenders, sticks and elbows making menace, large bodies with sharp blades at one end tumbling into the goalie's preserve. Just about the last of the good old cats was Gump Worsley, who retired as the Minnesota goalie the other day having never worn a face mask during 20 years' service. Nearly everybody else does now, but psychic scars, as these photographs suggest, are as easy to come by as the ones that used to be the product of needle and catgut. On page 45 the Pittsburgh Penguins' forthright young goaltender, Jim Rutherford, tells some of the reasons why that is so.

Three studies in keeping-the-old-eye-on-the-puck: above, New York's Eddie Giacomin; below left, Pittsburgh's Jim Rutherford; right, Atlanta's Danny Bouchard.

Goalies aren't particular; they just try to get something in the way of the puck. In the case of Chicago's Gary Smith (left), it is everything he has, and if he resembles a Charleston dancer at a masked ball, so be it. Philadelphia's Doug Favell (right) throws the reclining-figure bit at New York's Vic Hadfield. The man Favell needs is someone like Hadfield's teammate, Brad Park (extreme right), to play cop. California's Gilles Meloche (below) could use a policeman, too, as the captain of the Red Wings, Alex Delvecchio, tumbles in.

Atlanta's Bouchard hits the deck to smother a puck, while Author Rutherford plays host to an unwanted goal-mouth huddle.