A HALL OF FAME NIGHT TO REMEMEBRFeatures | 3/31/2012 12:46:10 PM | Dan Peters
Prior to Friday night’s contest against the Toronto Marlies, the Rochester Americans inducted former goaltender Darcy Wakaluk and defenseman Rick Pagnutti into the Amerks Hall of Fame, as the pair became the 51st and 52nd members of the exclusive club as selected by the Rochester Americans Hall of Fame Selection Committee. The two were highlighted in a video montage during a pregame ceremony on the ice before addressing the crowd of 5,853 fans inside The Blue Cross Arena.
“I think as every second goes by, it’s hitting me a little harder,” he said. “When I played the game, I played with a lot of passion and emotion, and to have something like this bestowed on me is very humbling and certainly not anything I ever expected. This franchise is truly amazing. The city, the fans and the organization are truly second-to-none.”
Aside from his stellar record between the pipes for the Amerks, Wakaluk even contributed offensively and is perhaps best remembered for becoming the first goaltender in North American professional hockey to score a goal by shooting the puck into the net during a game against the Utica Devils on Dec. 5, 1987. Just three days later, Philadelphia Flyers goalie Ron Hextall repeated the feat, becoming the first National Hockey League netminder to score a goal. Wakaluk owns the Amerks franchise record for most career points by a goalie with one goal and 16 assists.
“I had way too many memories over my career to get into them all, but certainly winning the Calder Cup my first year in Rochester and seeing what a hockey city this is and how truly passionate the fans are, it truly inspired me. Scoring the goal was something very special as well to be the first goalie to do it before Hextall did,” Wakaluk acknowledged.
“I got a call from Jody Gage and he told me that I had been elected into the Hall of Fame,” said Pagnutti. “At 65 years of age, you kind of think that you are forgotten, so this is a big day for me. I will be the fourth guy from Sudbury in the Amerks Hall of Fame, You’ve got Al Arbour, Jimmy Hofford, Jimmy Pappin and myself.”
“I was here four years and I can just think of the Don Cherry era with the eight thousand fans in the rink,” he said as he reflected on his time in the Flower City.
For each of the new Amerks Hall of Famers, the trip to Rochester brought back a wave of emotions and memories, making it a night that will not be soon forgotten.