During the 1939-40 season, LoPresti impressed Chicago Black Hawks President Bill Tobin and Head Coach Paul Thompson during an exhibition game between the Saints and Black Hawks, who signed LoPresti for the 1940-41 season. He was first assigned to the Kansas City Americans, also of the AHA. In 18 games, he posted an 9-9 record before being recalled in January of 1941 when Chicago goaltender Paul Goodman retired.
LoPresti had a tie and three wins in his first four starts for the Black Hawks, but the going got rough the rest of the way as he went 6-15-2 the rest of the way, which included his first NHL shutout on February 27th, a 1-0 win over the Detroit Red Wings. He also set an NHL record on March 4, 1940 that still stands today when he made 80 saves in a regulation 60 minute game in an eventual 3-2 loss to the Boston Bruins. Of his record setting game, LoPresti recalled, "They were shooting from every angle and I didn't see half the shots. They were bouncing off my pads, chest protector, my arms, my shoulders. I didn't even know where they were coming from. I lost between eight and ten pounds that night."
He played 47 games in 1941-42, with a 21-23-3 record with 3 shutouts but that was the end of his career as he enlisted in the United States Navy during World War II. He was assigned to the SS Roger B. Taney, which protected ships as they crossed the Atlantic. The Taney was torpedoed and sunk in February of 1943 and LoPresti was listed as missing in action, thought to be a casualty.
However, as the Taney sank, LoPresti and 25 other men abandoned the ship and sought safety on rafts. The next morning, those on the rafts were picked up by the #4 lifeboat, but with minimal food or water. The lifeboat then made a nearly 2,500 mile voyage to the South American coast. LoPresti in particular was credited with saving the men's lives by fashioning a weapon by lashing a knife to a boat hook. He then dove into the water and was able to catch a 35 pound dolphin, which provided blood to drink and meat, which they cooked in a metal bucket with a fire made of rags and kerosene. The men were finally rescued off of the coast of Brazil 42 days after their ship sank. LoPresti had lost 55 pounds during the time he was lost at sea.
After he returned from the war, LoPresti played. for the San Diego Skyhawks of the Pacific Coast Hockey League in 1943-44 and 1944-45. He then returned to Minnesota and continued to play senior hockey with the Duluth Coolerators, Duluth Steelers and finally the Eveleth Rangers. LoPresti was a charter member of the United States Hockey Hall of Fame in 1973.
Sam married his wife Carol in 1941 and they had a son, Pete LoPresti, who was born on May 23, 1954. Pete became a goaltender like his father, and attended the University of Denver in 1972-73, getting into four games before becoming their starter in 1973-74 when his workload increased to 38 games, winning 22.
the last season for this jersey style
His second season with the North Stars was equally as trying, as he finished 7-22-1. With Minnesota failing to qualify for the playoffs, LoPresti was tabbed to join the United States for the 1976 World Championships in Poland. There, the US finished 3-3-1 in the First Round, thanks to wins over Sweden, Poland and West Germany and a tie with Finland. That was good enough for fourth place out of eight and a spot in the Final Round, eventually finishing fourth.
The North Stars joined the NHL for the 1967-68 season wearing green jerseys with wide white waist and arm stripes with narrow gold trim. For their second season of 1968-69, a white shoulder yoke was added and the jerseys then remained unchanged through the 1974-75 season.
Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1976 United States National Team Pete LoPresti jersey as created for the 1976 Canada Cup. This amazing jersey with it's fully chain stitched crest and sewn on names, numbers and shoulder stars was actually only used in the pre-tournament games by the Americans, as the players complaints about the weight of he heavy dureen fabric and how hot the sweaters were, especially in the late summer heat of late August, led to the USA wearing mesh jerseys with screened on graphics for the actual tournament games, a far cry from the outstanding workmanship which went into today's featured jersey.