On November 14th, 2021, some of the best to ever hit the ice took part in the annual Hockey Hall of Fame Legends Classic. Led by the likes of Mike Modano and Eric Lindros, Scott Niedermayer’s Team Canada Legends faced off against Team Modano’s World Legends team at Scotiabank Arena; a familiar barn for many of those involved. Some of the new honoured members, Jarome Iginla and Marian Hossa, hit the ice, and while the attention was supposed to be on them, an unexpected name ended up stealing the show.
The Legends Classic is a casual, easy-going hockey game, which is played mainly be NHL alumni. The annual game is a two-period long scrimmage, with a shootout at the end in which each goal counts. It’s somewhat similar to the NHL All-Star Game, however, even more relaxed and less intense. It is a high-scoring, fun for the whole family event, with little defence involved in which fans get to see some of their childhood idols return to the playing surface.
It didn’t take long for the goals to start piling up. The World Legends, led by captain Mike Modano, stunned the hometown crowd early on with some nifty passing plays to take a demanding and early lead. In a high-scoring contest such as the Legends Classic, backstops will make some high-quality saves, but nobody is expected to have a lights-out performance. Many of the players on both sides were certainly not expecting a goaltender to be the shining star, but that is precisely what happened during the festivities.
World Legends backstop Molly Schaus was the clear-cut star of the day. Stunning the Canadian Legends, Schaus opened the first period with a bang, allowing just one goal, while making no shortage of highlight-reel saves in the process. Concluding the first of the two-period contest, Schaus backstopped her team to a 6-1 lead going into the intermission.
Schaus, a former goaltender for the U.S. National team, had a legendary career of her own. The Natick, Massachusetts native was a star for Boston College at the collegiate level, where she was a two-time finalist for the NCAA’s Player of the Year award. She also served as the team’s captain during her final campaign. While enrolled in school, Schaus started her tenure with the National Women’s Team. When she was not suiting up for the Eagles, Schaus played in three World Championships and made her Winter Olympics debut. She did this all before receiving her degree. She won three gold medals at the World Championships in that span, while earning a silver at the Olympics in 2010.
Her hockey career didn’t stop after she graduated. Following her four-year undergrad tenure, Schaus stayed in the Boston Area and made the jump to pro hockey with the Boston Blades of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League. She spent two seasons in the CWHL, winning the Clarkson Cup during her final season in the league. Playing with the Blades under Digit Murphy, she continued to play USA Hockey. She represented her country at the 2011-12 and 2014-15 World Championships, capturing gold and silver respectively, and added another silver competing at the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Schaus got the crowd on their feet with every save she made. Playing in front of a mostly Canadian audience in Toronto, the crowd was rooting for Team Niedermayer, but Schaus was not going to give the fans an easy victory. In the first intermission, Team Niedermayer forward Simon Gagne expressed his elation with the play of his team’s backstop. “She’s good,” he said with delight. “She made some very big saves and did a pretty good showing for the fans.”
While there isn’t much forechecking or huge bursts of speed during the Legends Classic, players want to score goals, as Gagne further alluded to. And Schaus was not making it easy for them. Throughout the second and final period of play, the Canadians surely had to step up their play. They finally started to get things rolling when a snipe off the stick of Mike Cammalleri deflected off Jarome Iginla and found the back of the net.
Iginla went on to score a beautiful solo goal despite a sprawling Schaus, who just nearly made the save. By the end of the frame, the score was 8-4 Team Modano, with Schaus continuing to stand on her head. She consistently robbed Hall of Famer’s on breakaways, and other dangerous scoring chances. As shootout goals count, the final score 10-8 in favour Team Modano and their talented goaltender.
Schaus’ heroics between the pipes and overall sparkling performance resulted in her selection as first star of the game. Despite majority of the crowd rooting for Schaus to give up the puck, the reaction to her stealing the spotlight was warm and loud, to say the very least.
“It was amazing and fun to watch even through we were on the other end of that,” said Scott Niedermayer, who was captaining Team Canada. “She made some great saves. I’m sure it’s a highlight for her and just really neat to see.”
The fans came to see their favourite NHL legends square off in friendly competition, but what they were treated to was a thrilling goaltending performance by a retired American Superstar.