"ONE FOR THE RECORD!"
Updated: Jan 8, 2019
Every year on January 7th, I can’t help but to recall an event which is ingrained in my memory forever. The year was 1980. As a goalie for the Philadelphia Flyers, we lost a game in the Metropolitan Sports Center in Bloomington, Minnesota. The score was 7-1. “Why would you remember such a loss?" you’ll ask. I usually try to forget losses, especially those when I gave up 7 goals. However, this one is memorable because it was our first loss since October 13th of the preceding fiscal year. The outcome of this game finally ended our phenomenal 35 game-unbeaten streak which is still a record today and one of the best experiences of my hockey career.
Let’s set the stage leading up to this game. On December 9th, we beat the Chicago Black Hawks to surpass the Flyers’ own record of 23 undefeated games. Following that win, the hockey world realized that we were “for real” and that we had a chance to beat the league record which was 28. From then on, it was like a playoff environment everywhere we played with a lot of media coverage, and animated “fans who either cheered or jeered”. The city of Philadelphia was energized. “It was an exciting time”!
On December 22nd, in Boston Garden, where the Flyers had not won in 5 years, we beat the Bruins 5-2, breaking the record of 28 consecutive unbeaten games held by the Montreal Canadiens since February 23rd, 1978. The frenzy continued. We broke attendance records, made big headlines and it seemed like every city wanted to be the one to end the Flyers Streak. It was no different in Minnesota on that cold January day.
The MET Center was one of my favorite arenas to play in. With its green and white seats all the way to the top, it was built for hockey. The ice was hard and fast, games were always very competitive and the fans were knowledgeable and vocal. I had success in that building in the past and I was confident that we could continue the streak when I got the call as the starting goalie.
The North Stars built a 3-1 lead in the first period. The fans could sense a victory, or should I say, they craved a Flyers loss. To this day, for this game, the building was the loudest I ever played in. We could hardly hear the whistles. Even though the game got out of reach by the end of the second period, the fans kept celebrating and the noise never stopped until the last second. They wanted to be there to witness what other teams had failed to do: “Break the Flyers Streak”! When the game was over, my teammates and I had mixed emotions. Sure, we were “pissed off” for losing this game but we also felt a sense of relief that it was over. Yet, we realized the enormity of what we had done and we had a sense of accomplishment and pride. We had just achieved something that no other Pro Team in any sport had been able to do and has yet to be beaten.
Yes, I try to forget losses. But this one, on January 7th, 1980, triggers many unbelievable and unforgettable memories, thrills and adventures that I experienced during “THE STREAK”! I will forever be bonded with that team below who share it with me.
Roster: Bill Barber, Norm Barnes, Frank Bathe, Mel Bridgman -C, Mike Busniuk, Bobby Clarke, Bob Dailey, Andre Dupont, Tom Gorence, Al Hill, Paul Holmgren, Bob Kelly, Reggie Leach, Ken Linseman, Rick Macleish, Phil Myre, John Paddock, Dennis Patterson, Pete Peeters, Brian Propp, Dennis Vevergaert, Jimmy Watson, Behn Wilson
Coach - Pat Quinn General Manager - Keith Allen
Management: Chairman of the Executive Board - Ed Snider, Chairman of the Board - Joe Scott, President - Bob Butera, Asst. Coach - Bob Boucher, Goaltending Instr. - Jacques Plante, Special Assignments - Bernie Parent and Joe Watson, Dir. of Player Personnel - Marcel Pelletier, Dir. of Scouting - John Brogan, Press Relations / Traveling Secretary - Joe Kadlec, Trainers - Norm Mackie, Frank Lewis, Jim McKenzie.