It still stands as a very vivid memory from my childhood, that magical night in Toronto when Darryl Sittler had the game of a lifetime. The thing about his six goal, 4 assist night that stands out the most? None of the goals came in the first period. He had hat tricks in the 2nd and 3rd period after amassing just 2 assists in the first period. The second period saw him net 5 points, all against Boston's rookie netminder Dave Reece. Reece had been playing well as backup to Gilles Gilbert, but with Gerry Cheevers on his way back to the Bruins from the WHA, Reece was about to be sent back to the minors. He was left in for all 11 goals that night, the poor bastard.
No one's come closer than 8 points since that night in 1976. It's especially remarkable when you consider how Wayne Gretzky destroyed nearly every scoring record in the book, this most impressive single game feat still stands, as well as the record for most goals in a game, held by Montreal's Joe Malone in 1920. The only other player to notch 6? Red Berenson of the St. Louis Blues against the Philadelphia Flyers in 1968 (and that stands as a record for the most goals scored by one player in a road game).
We talked a lot about the 72 Summit Series a few months back during the 40th anniversary (and we hope you enjoyed our game by game breakdowns), but it's Sittler who was the hero in another one of my favorite Canadian hockey moments: The 1976 Canada Cup. Organized by NHLPA boss Alan Eagleson and the IIHF, it was the first time that the best of the best faced off against each other. Canada, the USA, Sweden, Finland, Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union.
Canada's roster for this tournament may have been even more impressive than the 1972 version, the names on the roster dominated by future hall of famers. They also had 2 players who were noticeably absent from the 72 roster: Bobby Orr (who was injured) and Bobby Hull, who was not invited after defecting to the rival WHA. Though they had 3 goalies on the roster, LA's Rogatien Vachon played every minute for Team Canada. Many people anticipated a Canada/USSR showdown, but the Soviets sent a team of youngsters, inexperienced in the international game, and as a result were a disappointment in the tournament. They would claim the roster was a sign they didn't take the tournament as seriously as the Olympics and World Championships, but it was later revealed that it was an inner power struggle between Olympic coach Boris Kulagin and Team Canada coach Viktor Tikhonov, with Kulagin basically trying to make Tikhonov look bad by not sending the best players available. As a result, the Czechs were ranked 2nd in the tournament, with the Swedes, who had a roster of names familiar to North American hockey fans like Borje Salming, Inge Hammerstrom and Ulf Nilsson, were ranked 3rd.
Canada kicked things off with an 11-2 stomping of the Finns, and the Soviets were dumped 5-3 by the Czechs. Soviet officials complained about the tournament scheduling, saying it was designed to make them look bad, then about officiating following a 3-3 tie with the Swedes. The US team, not given a chance by anyone in the tournament played Canada hard, falling eventually 4-2 to the Canadians. Canada then beat the Swedes 4-0, but the real shocker came when they were eliminated from the tournament thanks to an 8-6 loss to their Finnish neighbours. The Czechs and Canadians met in the round robin and it was an amazing goaltenders battle between Vachon and his Czech counterpart Vladimir Dzurilla were flawless until Milan Novy scored with less than 5 minutes remaining to earn the Czechs a berth in the best of 3 final.
Team Canada and the USSR faced off, and led by Bobby Orr, held on for a 3-1 to advance for a rematch against the Czechs. Game 1 of the final couldn't have been different for Team Canada than their earlier encounter with Dzurilla, as they put 4 past him in the 1st period on the way to a 6-0 victory. In game 1, the Czechs had pulled Dzurilla in favour of Jiri Holeček, and he would start game 2, only to get the hook when he gave up 2 goals in the first 3 minutes. The Czechs scored in the 2nd, tieing it in the 3rd. Bobby Clarke gave Canada a 3-2 lead, but they tied it again, and Marian Stastny gave them a 4-3 lead with less than 4 minutes to go. Dzurilla would make a costly error with time running down, as his clearing attempt went right to the stick of Philadelphia's Bill Barber, who fired the puck into the empty net to send the game to overtime.
The Canadians scored twice in OT. Wait, what? Guy Lafleur fired a shot past Dzurilla, but Ivan Hlinka (who would later go on to play for the Canucks) pushed the net off, getting a delay of game penalty but saving a goal. Later Montreal's other Guy, Lapointe would squeeze one by Dzurilla, but the goal was waved off as time expired on the first half of OT (thanks to IIHF rules). Cue Darryl Sittler.
During the break between the OT periods, Team Canada assistant coach Don Cherry noted how far out Dzurilla was coming to cut down angles. He suggested holding onto the puck rather than going for a low percentage shot and waiting him out to get him to overplay, and around 2 minutes into the 2nd half of OT, Marcel Dionne fed a streaking Darryl Sittler, and this happened:
A couple really awesome things about that clip: first, that's BCTV (and long time Canucks play by play man) Bernie Pascall doing the call there. Secondly, how strange is it that the 2 guys wearing the giant Northland helmets, Denis Potvin and Lanny McDonald were the first ones to reach Sittler?
So there's a game today, apparently. The Canucks head home after two solid road wins, both goaltenders standing out in the OT victory in Edmonton (Luongo) and the 4-1 drubbing of the Minnesota
Mild Wild. The Canucks will again start Cory Schneider as the Flames will go with Leland Irving, thrust into the starting role after Miikka Kiprusoff sustained an injury trying to pick up a smoke off the dressing room floor against Detroit the other night. The Flames have won back to back games, allowing them to remove the tag 'Worst team in the NHL' for the time being, but there will be a lot of pressure on Irving to hold the fort until Kipper returns. Ryan Kesler continues to practice with the team, but no word yet on when he will be ready to go.
KICKASS METAL TUNE OF THE DAY
Is there a band out there right now making better videos than Municipal Waste? No, so shut yer damn mouth! Before we look at the gory and funny clip for the title track from their latest album 'The Fatal Feast', here's a new commercial they're in for Vans 'Off The Wall' shoes...