It can't be easy being your team's last line of defense against an onslaught of shots from the Vancouver Canucks' offense, especially with the pressure of knowing the Stanley Cup trophy is on the line. Boston Bruins goalkeeper Tim Thomas, though, has a little extra motivation when he takes his place on the ice: his faith.
“Our church family has really enjoyed Tim's success in hockey,” wrote Tony Thompson as part of an interview for The Christian Chronicle. Thompson is the preaching pastor for Thomas' church in Massachusetts, Burlington Church of Christ.
Thomas played an integral role in helping his team win the Stanley Cup this year, yet he was at the receiving end of some sharp criticism by opposing goalie Roberto Luongo earlier in the series.
After the Bruins lost game five with a score of 1-0 last Friday, a loss that put Vancouver only one win away from the championship, Luongo openly criticized Thomas' approach to protecting the net.
“It's an easy save for me,” he said to the media of the one goal Thomas allowed that game, “but if you're wandering out and aggressive like he does, that's going to happen.”
Luongo has since tried to explain himself and justify what he had said. “I was just saying, on that particular day, I would have played it different.” He later seemed to complain about Thomas' manners, stating, “I have been pumping his tires ever since the series started. I haven't heard one nice thing he had to say about me.”
Fighting through the criticism he received, Thomas played well in the finals, allowing only eight goals through the whole series including a shutout in the Bruins' 4-0 victory in game seven. He held the regular season title for highest save percentage (.938) and goals-against average (2.00), and throughout the playoffs continued to be the best in both of those areas. He was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy, which is given to the player who is considered the most valuable throughout the playoffs, after the series ended Wednesday night.
“I've been dreaming of this since I was a little kid,” Thomas said of the team's victory in an interview on the NHL network. He later stated, “I had a rough year last year, and this whole season I've just been blessed and blessed more, and it's awesome.”
The 37 year-old Thomas is also one of the 2010-2011 season's finalists for the Vezina Trophy, an award given to the NHL's best goalkeeper. He won the award once before in the 2008-2009 season, and is in the running alongside Luongo and the Nashville Predators' Pekka Rinne for this year's trophy. The winner will be announced on Wednesday, June 22 during the 2011 NHL Awards in Las Vegas.
Though Thomas has been successful as a professional athlete, Thompson made it a point to mention that worldly success isn't everything. “Obviously, much more important than his athletic prowess is the fact that Tim loves the Lord and the church and is devoted to his family,” he wrote.
Game seven of the Stanley Cup Finals was played in Vancouver and, having lost the three previous away games by one point each, it was the only one the Bruins won there during the series. The Bruins have now won six Stanley Cup Championships in all, this one being the first since 1972.