Monday, August 25, 2008

Gretzky's big night in Buffalo

Bucky's post about Gretzky Week on the Network certainly jogged my memory about one of the greatest nights ever in the Aud -- and it was a game the Sabres lost. I was among the record crowd of 16,652 in the old barn on Feb. 24, 1982 when Gretzky broke Phil Esposito's record with his 77th goal of the season (and I know about 100,000 of you will say you saw me there too!) I remembered some of the basic facts that some of the commentors to Bucky's post have already mentioned: The Oilers won, 6-3, as Gretzky scored the game's final three goals to spoil Gilbert Perreault's hat trick. But I went back into some of my warped teen-age files and found more some more trivia on this one. ---Biggest celebrities in attendance: Burt Reynolds and Goldie Hawn, in town filming the forgettable "Best Friends." ---Sabres burned on Gretzky's historic goal: Steve Patrick (gave up puck), Richie Dunn (beaten wide), Don Edwards (beaten by the shot). ---Gretzky's goals came at 13:24, 18:16 and 19:43 of the third period, the latter into an empty net. He also assisted on two of Edmonton's three first-period goals, giving him season totals of 79 goals and 97 assists for 176 points. He went on to finish at 92-120-212. The Oilers' other goals were by Charlie Huddy, Pat Hughes and Jari Kurri. ---Perreault's goals were Nos. 24-25-26. The blast-from-the-past roll call of assists on them goes like this: Yvon Lambert, Mike Ramsey, Craig Ramsay, Dunn, Alan Haworth and Larry Playfair. ---Looking back on the schedule: The game was on an Wednesday night with one of those old 8:05 starts. And it was in the middle of a stretch of six games in 11 days -- where the other five teams no longer exist. It opened on Feb. 21 with a 6-2 win over the Colorado Rockies, continued on the road with a 4-4 tie against the Winnipeg Jets on Feb. 26 and a 5-5 draw with the Minnesota North Stars on Feb. 27 and was wrapped up by two more ties against the Hartford Whalers (3-3 in the Aud on March 3 and 2-2 in the Civic Center on March 6). ---Mike HarringtonSource

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