Friday was a good day in the goaltenders' union -- Wes Goldie, who tortured its members for a dozen pro hockey seasons and became the most prolific sniper in ECHL history, said he is almost certainly retiring.
The Alaska Aces right winger, who this season broke Rod Taylor's career ECHL goal-scoring mark, finished with 370 goals on the minor-league circuit and is a lock to enter the league's Hall of Fame, said it's time to get back to his family.
Goldie, 33, has spent the last two seasons with the Aces. He helped lead them to the 2011 Kelly Cup in a season when he was voted the league's Most Valuable Player by its coaches and at last earned the championship he coveted.
Yet the Aces' alternate captain also spent those seasons away from his wife, Marsha, and their three children -- daughter Madison, 14, and sons Mason, 10, and Makinnon, 9 -- who remained back in his hometown of London, Ontario. The family occasionally traveled to Anchorage or to Aces road games to visit Goldie during those two seasons. But even the four-hour time difference between London and Anchorage made it tough on everyone, Goldie said.
Friday, he said it's time to be a full-time father again.
"I think if all goes well and I find (non-hockey) employment back home, that looks like where we're headed," Goldie said. "It's a lot of stress to be away from them, and kids aren't kids forever. (Retiring) is hard, but because of what I'm getting, it's not -- you know what I mean?
"I'll miss the people you meet, the guys you battle with, the guys you battle against, the dressing room. But your family is your family. I'd give up anything for them, and they've given up a lot following me around."
Goldie, who prior to arriving in Anchorage played four seasons with the Victoria Salmon Kings and four seasons with the Pee Dee Pride (who became the Florence Pride), is the only player in league history to deliver five consecutive seasons of 40 or more goals. And he did it in five straight seasons, capping that run with a league-leading 46 goals for the Aces in 2010-11.
Goldie's ECHL career was sandwiched around two seasons in the Quebec-based LNAH, a professional circuit known for fight-filled games.
Goldie this season scored 35 goals to tie teammate Dan Kissel for second in the league. That also made him just one of two players in league history -- Taylor is the other -- to generate eight seasons of 30 or more goals. His six straight seasons of 30 or more goals ties him with Taylor, who is in the ECHL Hall of Fame, and Dany Bosquet for most in league history.
Goldie entered this season needing 33 goals to tie Taylor's all-time mark of 368. Friday, he said knowing this was likely his last season made getting the record more difficult.
"There was a lot of pressure on that because I knew it was going to be my last year,'' he said. "After last year, I was close to (retiring), but seeing how close I was to the record, and then winning the championship and wanting to enjoy it and defend it, I decided to play again.''
Goldie scored his record-breaking goal March 24 in a 3-2 shootout loss to Ontario. Fittingly, the record goal came on the power play -- Goldie was lethal with the man advantage -- and off a pass from his center Brian Swanson, on Swanson's 36th birthday. Swanson also confirmed his retirement Friday. Fittingly, Goldie's landmark goal came when he beat goalie Chris Carrozzi to the glove side, where he has punished so many goalies, though usually with a shot high to the glove side.
Goldie's record-breaking 369th goal doubled as his 600th career point in the ECHL, and his 605 career points rank seventh all-time.
"Looking back, it will be something I really cherish, but at the time it didn't seem that big a deal," Goldie said with a laugh. "I've always been a guy who doesn't see what all the fuss is about. There are a lot of people who do amazing stuff in life and don't get praise, and I'm a hockey player who scores goals for a living and I get (praise).
"That's sports, I guess."
Goldie said he loved his time in Anchorage, where the Aces are supported by a passionate fan base at Sullivan Arena.
"It's going to be tough to leave," he said. "It really has been home, the way the fans treat you, whether you're winning or losing.
"It's a constant respect given to us for representing them. It's definitely been a pleasure to play here and it was definitely a pleasure to end it in the Sully."
With a daughter entering high school -- "Which I can't believe," Goldie said -- and a family who needs him, the veteran winger figures there is only the slightest of chances he'll ever play hockey again.
"I can't really say 100 percent I'm not playing because you never know what might happen," Goldie said. "But changes definitely need to be made with my (family) situation."
He said it seems right to be retiring at the same time as Swanson.
"We've got a lot of great memories," Goldie said. "I'm very grateful to have played with him, and to have played here."
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