The goalie who thanks Jesus, Mary and Joseph for each save

Hockey is not nearly as popular as it was when I was a kid.

Back then, most kids between Coney Island and Brighton Beach followed the Rangers and/or Islanders about as closely as they did our favorite baseball, football and basketball teams.

These days, the NHL playoffs get little attention, especially if the Rangers are uninvolved.

But the Stanley Cup finals will begin Saturday night between the upstart Philadelphia Flyers and the “Original Six” Chicago Blackhawks.

Whispers in the Loggia’s Rocco Palmo points out that Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki, an auxiliary of the Archdiocese of Chicago who is about to become bishop of Springfield, Ill, is not only a big hockey fan, but a player.

A goalie, in fact. The Holy Goalie.

He’s also a marathon runner.

Last year, he told the newspaper of the Diocese of Green Bay:

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When I’m running, I’m constantly saying a prayer. I say Hail Marys. I have a little finger rosary and I’m praying Hail Marys while I’m running. When I’m out there on the ice, if somebody’s coming at me on a breakaway, I say, ‘Oh my God, Jesus help me.’ Then if I make the save, I say, ‘Thank you Jesus, thank you Mary, thank you Joseph, thank you guardian angel. I say all these little prayers while I’m out there.

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Great stuff.

Paprocki — a great name for a bishop/athlete, no? — has even written his own guide to the Cup finals.

He includes this nod to hockey toughness: “The grit and determination of the Chicago Blackhawks is epitomized by defenseman Duncan Keith, who lost seven teeth when he was hit in the face by a puck in last Sunday’s game that clinched the semi-final series against the San Jose Sharks. He only missed four shifts and ended up playing a game-high 29 minutes, 2 seconds and assisted on the tying goal.”

The Holy Goalie’s prediction? Blackhawks in 5.

What did you expect from a Chicago bishop?

Photo: (Sam Lucero | The Compass, Diocese of Green Bay)

Gary Stern

Gary Stern covered education in the Lower Hudson Valley for several years during the early 1990s. Now's he back on the beat. He believes that schools are one of the main reasons that people live around here and that educational issues -- from curriculum to financing -- are among the most challenging things that journalists can write about. He continues to be amazed by the complexity of educational jargon. Gary got his B.A. at SUNY Buffalo and his M.A. from the University of Missouri Journalism School (where his master's thesis was about the best ways to cover education). He lives in White Plains with his wife and two sons, who attend public schools.