Everyone loves a good hockey fight, but very rarely do we see goaltenders get into the action. As exciting as it is to see two tough guys drop their gloves, it doesn’t compare to watching two goaltenders leave their creases to scrap. Here’s my top 10 list of the greatest NHL goaltender fights of all time:
10. Miikka Kiprusoff vs. Thomas Vokoun
On March 20, 2004, the Nashville Predators visited the Calgary Flames. There was a brawl at center ice, with both goaltenders in the middle of it. Calgary’s Miikka Kiprusoff and Nashville’s Thomas Vokoun exchanged punches until the referee split up the visibly tired goaltenders. Kiprusoff tallied 15 penalty minutes, while Vokoun gathered 17.
9. Brent Johnson vs Rick DiPietro
The New York Islanders faced the Pittsburgh Penguins on February 2, 2011. With just 17 seconds remaining in the game, fights broke out in the corner of the ice. Goaltenders Brent Johnson (Pittsburgh) and Rick DiPietro (New York) also decided to scrap, but it didn’t last very long. One punch from Johnson and DiPietro went down. DiPietro suffered facial fractures from the hit. Johnson received 17 minutes in penalties, while DiPietro had 19.
8. Steve Shields vs. Garth Snow
This fight happened on May 3, 1997 in a game between the Philadelphia Flyers and Buffalo Sabres. Buffalo’s goaltender, Steve Shields, was minding his own business when Philadelphia’s Garth Snow started provoking him to fight. Both goaltenders started throwing punches while the referee was still between them. Once the referee escaped the goalie brawl, Shields and Snow traded punches and ended up halfway into the Sabres’ bench. Shields ended up with 7 penalty minutes, while Snow got an extra two.
7. Corey Schwab vs. Tommy Soderstrom
December 9, 1995 is a date I’m sure Tommy Soderstrom will never forget. In a game between New York and New Jersey, the Devils’ goaltender, Corey Schwab skated down the ice to face Tommy Soderstrom, who was definitely not expecting it. Schwab grabbed the Rangers’ goaltender and started hammering him in front of Soderstrom’s net. Soderstrom ended up getting a big gash on his left cheek which required five stitches. Soderstrom received 7 penalty minutes, while Schwab was ejected from the game and was handed 29 penalty minutes.
6. Byron Dafoe vs. Patrick Lalime
This fight took place on January 17, 2002, in a game between the Ottawa Senators and Boston Bruins. Everyone starting fighting behind Ottawa’s net, including goaltender Patrick Lalime. That prompted Boston’s goalie, Byron Dafoe, to skate down the ice and take on Lalime. At first it looked like these two were slow dancing, but soon enough, fists started flying. The fight ended after a few right hands from Dafoe and a cut over Lalime’s left eye. Both goaltenders received 17 minutes in penalties.
5. Dan Cloutier vs. Tommy Salo
On April 4, 1998, a brawl broke out between the New York Islanders and New York Rangers. New York Islanders’ goaltender, Tommy Salo, came to Mariusz Czerkawski’s defense against tough guy, P.J. Stock, only to be pulled away by the Rangers’ goalie, Dan Cloutier. After Cloutier easily dropped Salo to the ice, he continued to pound on him for several moments. After leaving Salo on the ice, Cloutier then skated over to the Islanders’ bench and challenged the remaining players. Both goaltenders received 17 minutes in penalties.
4. Chris Osgood vs. Patrick Roy
April 1, 1998 was an April Fools the Colorado Avalanche and Detroit Red Wings will never forget. Just over a year after Patrick Roy and Mike Vernon dropped their gloves, Roy decided to give Chris Osgood a try. The referee tried to stop Roy from going after Osgood, but he finally backed off and let the goaltenders pound on each other. Osgood, the smaller of the two, handled himself quite well against the rugged Roy. Osgood ended up with 17 penalty minutes, while Roy received 31.
3. Ron Hextall vs. Felix Potvin
Everyone knows about Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Ron Hextall’s temper, but on November 10, 1996, Toronto Maple Leafs goalie, Felix Potvin, got first hand experience. Right after the game-ending whistle, Hextall flew to the other end of the ice like a speed skater to face Potvin. I was pleasantly surprised to see how well Potvin handled himself. Potvin received 7 penalty minutes, while Hextall tallied 29. This is definitely a fight to remember.
2. Mike Vernon vs. Patrick Roy
On March 26, 1997, in a game between the Colorado Avalanche and Detroit Red Wings, one of the most exciting goalie fights of all time took place. Everyone on the ice was brawling, including goaltenders Patrick Roy (Colorado) and Mike Vernon (Detroit). Colorado’s Claude Lemieux was getting pounded by Detroit’s tough guy, Darren McCarty, which prompted Patrick Roy to come to his defense. However, Roy was stopped by Detroit’s left winger Brendan Shanahan and eventually the goaltenders got into what I consider to be the best goalie fight of all time. Both Roy and Vernon received seven minutes in penalties.
1. Ray Emery vs. Martin Biron
On February 22, 2007, in a game between the Ottawa Senators and Buffalo Sabres, a brawl broke out at 5:13 into the second period. Goaltenders Ray Emery (Ottawa) and Martin Biron (Buffalo) also decided to get into a scuffle. Emery clearly won that fight and once both goalies got up, he wanted to go again. However, at that point, Buffalo’s tough guy, Andrew Peters, came to Biron’s defense to fight the rowdy “Sugar” Ray Emery. Both goaltenders were ejected from the game with Emery receiving 22 penalty minutes, including two fighting majors, and Biron with 17 minutes.