Wednesday, May 27, 2015


Sudden Death on the Ice


When the hockey game ends in a tie, in the playoffs in the National Hockey League, the outcome is determined by a sudden death goal. It is a wonderful feeling when your team puts the puck in the net. You watch the referee pointing at the puck inside the cage. You feel the warmth of the red light behind the glass. Sticks are raised, smiles crease faces, hugs for everyone.



But when you lose, it results in instant despondency. It happens so quickly, that instant when you know there will be no more skating, no more shooting. At least on that evening. On some occasions, a sudden death goal is scored on the last game of the playoffs. That’s when it really hurts.



Matt Beleskey temporarily dashed the hopes of the Chicago Black Hawks last Monday night when he scored in overtime. The Ducks had jumped out to an early lead, and skated off the ice at the end of the first period with a 3-0 lead. The Hawks dug deep, then deeper, and tied the game in the dying seconds to send it into overtime. The Ducks now lead the series, but they have not yet lined up at centre ice to shake hands. You know that the fat lady is warming up in the wings, but that she has not been asked to take the stage.



Modere “Mud” Bruneteau put his name in the record books when he scored an overtime winner for the Red Wings against the Montreal Maroons in 1935. It was the only goal of the game, and it crossed the goal line at 16:30 of the sixth overtime period. The Wings won the Cup that year, and the next. Bruneteau was also on a Stanley Cup winning team in 1943 with the Wings, and played his entire eleven year NHL career in Detroit.



Another famous overtime hero hailed from Glenboro, Manitoba. Mel Hill earned the nickname “Sudden Death” because of his overtime exploits. In 1939, he potted three overtime winners for the Bruins against the Rangers in a seven game series. He did win two Stanley Cups with the Bruins, and another with the Leafs in 1945. Following his NHL career, he settled in Regina, and owned and operated a Pepsi Cola and Canada Dry bottling plant.



Beleskey’s goal came quickly against the Hawks, less than a minute into the first overtime. In 1986, Brian Skrudland scored for the Canadiens to beat the Calgary Flames at the nine second mark of overtime. That remains the fastest overtime marker in playoff history. J. P. Parise scored at the 11 second mark for the Islanders against the Rangers in 1975, and Alexandre Burrows did the same for the Canucks against the Bruins in 2011.



The moral of the story is quite obvious. Don’t loiter in front of the fridge if they are about to drop the puck to start the overtime period. And if it so happens that your team loses in overtime, drop all objects that might serve as projectiles. There are several cases of smashed television sets in those instances.



Keep your stick on the ice.




May 26, 2015. 







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