Ray Bourque was 9, in front of the family television on May 10, 1970, watching Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final between the Boston Bruins and St. Louis Blues.
"It was Sunday afternoon, and I was watching with my dad and a couple of friends," Bourque said Wednesday. "I grew up in Montreal, and usually it was the Canadiens in the Final. But not that year."
Forty seconds into overtime, Bruins defenseman Bobby Orr scored a goal for the ages, slamming Derek Sanderson's pass from behind the net past Blues goalie Glenn Hall to clinch the Stanley Cup.
And with that, Bourque and his buddies immediately ran out into the street, inspired to play ball hockey.
"Any kid in that era who was on the ice in practice or just messing around would try to imitate Bobby's goal in some way," he says. "If you could score on a one-timer in front of the crease, you'd jump up and dive like Bobby."
"The Goal," which in time has become a proper noun, was frozen by photographer Ray Lussier in one of hockey's greatest images -- a jubilant Orr is sailing through the air, upended by grimacing Blues defenseman Noel Picard. Hall is pulling himself up with his catching glove hooked over the crossbar, and fans in Boston Garden are erupting in the background, on their feet to celebrate the Bruins' first championship in 29 years.
Orr's goal has reached the semifinal round of the Greatest NHL Moments Presented by Coors Light and Pepsi Zero Sugar. It is up against Teemu Selanne setting the rookie goal-scoring record as a member of the Winnipeg Jets, breaking Mike Bossy's mark getting a hat trick on March 2, 1993, on the way to finishing with 76 goals. In the other semifinal, Wayne Gretzky scoring his 50th goal of the season in the Edmonton Oilers' 39th game on Dec. 30, 1981, is matched against Mario Lemieux scoring five goals in five different ways for the Pittsburgh Penguins against the New Jersey Devils on Dec. 31, 1988.
The original bracket of 64 moments, as determined by a blue-ribbon panel consisting of broadcasters from NHL national rightsholders NBC Sports Group, NHL Network, Sportsnet and TVA, has been cut to four through four rounds of voting. The fourth round of voting ended Tuesday. Voting in the semifinal round started Wednesday and continues through Nov. 21.
"I've seen so many of those pictures signed by all of them -- Bobby and Glenn and Noel," says Bourque, who never saw Orr play in person. "The only time I saw Bobby was on TV when he played Montreal, or the 1970 series against St. Louis. I remember watching that Sunday game and seeing an incredible goal -- Bobby flying through the air over the ice. Then later, seeing the picture, which says it all. It's a great picture, Bobby so ecstatic.
"I came to Boston nine years later to begin my [NHL] career, and it was just fantastic learning and hearing and seeing so much more about Bobby."
The Goal still resonates with Bruins fans, and Bourque believes that's "because of who scored it and just the position of him after he scored. And everybody in the picture -- it seems to be the perfect storm for a photo of a Stanley Cup won in overtime. You could ask fans, hundreds or thousands of them, and they wouldn't know the Bruins had won that Cup in four straight games. That photo actually looks like the game-winner in Game 7. The players in it, the celebration, the goalie, people jumping up in the background, there's a lot going on."
Video: 1970: Bobby Orr's iconic OT goal wins Cup for Bruins
Bourque joined the Bruins in 1979-80, one season after Orr had retired and three years after the iconic defenseman from Parry Sound, Ontario, had left Boston to sign with the Chicago Blackhawks. Bourque played 21 seasons in Boston, winning the Calder Trophy as the NHL's top rookie in 1980 and being awarded the Norris Trophy as the League's best defenseman five times.
He won the Stanley Cup with the Colorado Avalanche in 2001 after being traded the previous season following his request for a chance to win hockey's greatest prize, and retired in the glow of that victory. He joined Orr in the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2004.
Bourque, the No. 8 pick in the 1979 NHL Draft, arrived in Boston at age 19. He said he never felt any demands to be anyone but himself; Orr's skates were too large for anyone to fill.
"No, not for a second," he said of any such pressure. "It was only brought up by the press once in a while. I always said if I could be half the player Bobby was, then I'd have a really nice career in the NHL. I'm really proud of what I accomplished and how I did it.
"Bobby and I were different players and for me, Bobby is No. 1. He changed the game for defensemen with the stuff he did. I don't think you'll ever again see that. I was really proud of what I did, but it was never a question of my trying to emulate Bobby. My standards were very high in terms of what I expected from myself, to try to be the best I could be on a daily basis. When I look back, Bobby and I did things in different ways, and I think we both did them very well."
Bourque said he and Orr have spoken about many things over the years, though never about The Goal. But his scramble out onto the street for a game of road hockey after Orr's momentous goal remains fresh in his mind.
No, he joked, no one tried to recreate that goal that Sunday afternoon.
"We were playing on asphalt so we'd have needed a mattress to imitate it," he said with a laugh. "But I think we all had the idea in our heads and we all would have loved to score in that way."
To vote on the semifinal matchups, fans can visit NHL.com/GreatestMoments. They can join the conversation using the hashtag #NHLGreatestMoments. The fans' choice for the Greatest NHL Moment will be announced during the 2017 Scotiabank NHL100 Classic between the Montreal Canadiens and Ottawa Senators at Lansdowne Park in Ottawa on Dec. 16 (7 p.m. ET; CBC, TVA Sports, NBCSN, NHL.TV).