International Ice Hockey Federation

Buffalo’s biggest moments

Buffalo’s biggest moments

Top 10 events in 2018 WJC host city’s history

Published 23.12.2017 18:00 GMT-5 | Author Lucas Aykroyd
Buffalo’s biggest moments
When Buffalo first hosted the World Juniors in 2011, Russia shocked Canada in the gold medal game with a 5-3 comeback win. Photo: Andre Ringuette / HHOF-IIHF Images
When Buffalo hosts the 2018 World Juniors, it’ll add another big moment to the rich hockey legacy of New York State’s second-biggest city.

This story appeared in the December edition of the bi-monthly newsletter Ice Times. Click here to download your free copy.

Even though the Buffalo Sabres are still questing for their first Stanley Cup, fans here have had plenty to cheer about over the years. Here’s the IIHF's chronological rundown of Buffalo’s top 10 hockey moments.

1) Bisons Stampede to Glory (1943)

For 30 years, the now-defunct Buffalo Bisons were among the more successful franchises in AHL history. Playing at the old Memorial Auditorium, they won their first of five Calder Cups in 1943. NHL and international legends who wore Bisons colours at various times include Doug Harvey, Jacques Plante, Brad Park, and Grant Warwick. The Bisons folded in 1970 when the Sabres entered the NHL.

2) The Perreault Pick (1970)

Although Sabres fans have sometimes cursed their luck, they rejoiced when their team beat out the Vancouver Canucks, the other new NHL expansion franchise, for the top pick in the 1970 draft, based on spinning a roulette wheel. Buffalo chose centre Gilbert Perreault, while the Canucks settled for defenceman Dale Tallon. The slick, smooth-skating Perreault became a Sabres legend, racking up a franchise-record 1,326 points in 1,191 career games. Internationally, he suited up for Canada’s victorious 1972 Summit Series and 1976 Canada Cup teams.

3) First Time in the Finals (1975)

Coming off a league-leading 113-point season, the Sabres looked primed to contend for their first Stanley Cup. They were led by the dynamic French Connection line with Perreault, Rick Martin, and Rene Robert. But after toppling Chicago and Montreal in the first two rounds, Buffalo’s hopes crumbled in the finals against the defending Stanley Cup champion Philadelphia Flyers. The six-game triumph for the “Broad Street Bullies” is widely remembered for foggy on-ice conditions during Game Three, in which Sabres forward Jim Lorentz killed a flying bat by whacking it with his stick.

4) Stomping the Soviet Wings (1976)

From 1976 to 1991, Soviet clubs excelled in their semi-annual Christmas exhibitions versus NHL teams, known as the Super Series, winning 14 out of 16 series. However, the Soviet Wings (AKA Krylya Sovetov) suffered the biggest loss in Super Series history versus the Sabres on 4 January 1976. Despite boasting the Summit Series line of Vyacheslav Anisin, Alexander Bodunov, and Yuri Lebedev, plus sniper Sergei Kapustin, the Wings fell 12-6 to their hard-hitting opponents. The French Connection line powered the onslaught with four goals and five assists as the capacity crowd at Memorial Auditorium went wild.

5) Barrasso’s Remarkable Rookie Run (1984)

Goalie Tom Barrasso is famed for backstopping the Pittsburgh Penguins to the 1991 and 1992 Stanley Cups, but the Boston native laid his foundation for greatness in Buffalo. In 1984, the 18-year-old rookie became the youngest goalie ever to win the Calder and Vezina Trophies. In IIHF competition, this U.S Hockey Hall of Famer’s highlight was a silver medal at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics. Barrasso also appeared at the 1983 World Juniors and 1986 Worlds.

6) LaFontaine and Mogilny Make Magic (1993)

For pure creativity and speed, it was tough to top the duo of Pat LaFontaine and Alexander Mogilny. LaFontaine set a record for American NHLers with 148 points in 1992-93. In fact, only six NHLers have scored more points in one season: Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Steve Yzerman, Phil Esposito, Bernie Nicholls, and Jaromir Jagr. Meanwhile, Mogilny, who defected from the Soviet Union in 1989, tied Winnipeg super-rookie Teemu Selanne for the league lead in goals (76).

7) The Year of Peak Hasek (1998)

Renowned for his unorthodox, acrobatic style, Buffalo goalie Dominik Hasek more than justified his nickname, “The Dominator,” in 1997-98. He led the NHL with 72 games, 13 shutouts, and a 93.2 save percentage. No wonder the Pardubice native captured his second straight Hart Trophy and Lester B. Pearson Award, along with the fourth of his six Vezina Trophies and First Team All-Star berths. But his crowning achievement came at the 1998 Olympics, where NHL players participated for the first time. Hasek led the underdog Czechs to gold, stunning Canada in a 2-1 semi-final shootout win and then blanking Russia 1-0 in the final.

8) Heartbreak Versus Dallas (1999)

Entering the 1999 NHL playoffs as the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference, low-scoring Buffalo wasn’t favoured to contend for the Stanley Cup. Yet thanks to Hasek’s stunning goaltending, coach Lindy Ruff’s squad marched past Ottawa, Boston, and Toronto before facing the Dallas Stars in the finals. However, Sabres fans were infuriated and saddened when Brett Hull scored the Game Six triple-overtime winner for Dallas despite an alleged crease violation with his skate. The goal stood, but they still call it “No Goal” in Buffalo.

9) Welcoming the World Juniors (2011)

When Buffalo hosted its first World Junior Championship, it was a spectacle for the ages. In the gold medal game, Russia, paced by Yevgeni Kuznetsov and Artemi Panarin, shocked Canada by scoring five unanswered third-period goals for a 5-3 victory. It was the second straight silver for Canada and tournament scoring leader Brayden Schenn (18 points). The host Americans salvaged some pride with a 4-2 bronze medal win over Sweden.

10) Girls Seize the Spotlight (2015)

2015 was a landmark year for women’s hockey in Buffalo. Not only did the city add an NWHL franchise with the Buffalo Beauts, but it also hosted the IIHF World Women’s U18 Championship. USA Hockey rejoiced as Jincy Dunne potted the overtime winner against Canada in the final, kicking off a run of three straight U18 gold medals. Meanwhile, Russian captain Anna Shokhina had three points in a 5-1 bronze victory over the Czechs.

 

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