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Berenson's big night was one for NHL record book

Blues center's League mark for most goals scored in road game remains unmatched

by Stan Fischler / Special to NHL.com

Legendary hockey reporter and analyst Stan Fischler writes a weekly scrapbook for NHL.com. Fischler, known as "The Hockey Maven," shares his knowledge, humor and insight with readers each Wednesday.

This week he looks at the six-goal night by St. Louis Blues center Red Berenson, who's still the only player in NHL history to score six goals in a road game.

 

Red Berenson's hockey career is one of great accomplishment.

Berenson was one of the best junior players to come out of Western Canada in the late 1950s, when he starred for Regina, his hometown team. At the University of Michigan in the early 1960s, he became the face of the program and its top star. After turning pro with the Montreal Canadiens in 1962, Berenson earned instant notoriety by being one of the first NHL players to wear a helmet; he continued to do so despite the displeasure of his old-school coach, Toe Blake.

Berenson later became the first star of the NHL's expansion era, then returned to his alma mater after his playing days and rebuilt Michigan into one of the NCAA's flagship hockey programs.

But none of those feats, impressive as they are, can match what Berenson accomplished against the Philadelphia Flyers at the Spectrum on the night of Nov. 7, 1968.

By that time, Berenson was a member of the St. Louis Blues, one of the six teams that joined the NHL in the 1967 expansion. After seeing sporadic ice time with the Canadiens and New York Rangers, Berenson had been acquired by the Blues in a trade with New York on Nov. 29, 1967, and became an NHL regular at age 28.

He recalled his memorable night during an interview with George Vass for the book "The Game I'll Never Forget."

"It was such an extraordinary game for me that even now I wonder how it could have happened," he said.

The Blues, coached by Scotty Bowman, arrived in Philadelphia as the best of the six newcomers, having advanced to the Stanley Cup Final in their first season. Berenson had emerged as their top scorer, although he stepped onto the ice at the Spectrum having scored one goal in his previous nine games.

Video: Red Berenson on his retirement, Joe Louis Arena

That scoring slump ended at 16:42 of the first period when he beat Flyers defenseman Ed Van Impe, cruised in alone against goalie Doug Favell and scored on a backhand, his second shot of the game.

Another breakaway midway through the second period gave Berenson two goals and put the Blues ahead 2-0. He completed his hat trick at 14:42, fooling Favell with a snap shot that clanged off the post and into the net. Berenson immediately went fishing for the puck.

"It was my first hat trick," he said, "and I wanted the puck for a souvenir."

Berenson also had momentum; 32 seconds later, he converted a pass from Camille Henry with a wrist shot for his fourth goal. With 25 seconds remaining in the period, he scored again. After two periods, it was Berenson 5, Flyers 0. He had taken four shots in the second period and scored on all four. The four-goal period tied the NHL record held by Busher Jackson of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Max Bentley of the Chicago Black Hawks.

By now, even the 9,164 fans at the Spectrum knew they were witnessing history and were cheering him on., though Berenson wasn't sure why.

"I didn't know I was one away from the six-goal record that Syd Howe (of the Detroit Red Wings) had set in 1944," he said, "but I found out about that later."

A couple of other Blues got in on the fun during the first half of the third period. Terry Crisp scored at 3:46 and Henry, assisted by Berenson, made it 7-0 at 9:59.

But "The Red Baron" wasn't finished scoring. Berenson beat Favell on a breakaway at 14:04 for his sixth goal of the night. He remembered 40 years later that there was almost a seventh.

"I hit a crossbar on another one -- I had 10 shots on net and then I hit a crossbar," he told NHL.com in 2008.

Video: Memories: Red Berenson tallies six goals in a game

Instead, he had to settle for a six-goal night in an 8-0 victory. It was the second six-goal game in modern NHL history (since the introduction of the red line for the 1943-44 season). What made Berenson's accomplishment even more impressive was that all six goals came at even strength; the Blues did not get a power play all night.

"Among the things that pleased me about that night was the fact that all my goals were scored with the teams at full strength," Berenson told Vass. "None were tainted!"

And none forgotten. Since Berenson's big night, only Darryl Sittler of the Toronto Maple Leafs (on Feb. 7, 1976) has matched his feat of scoring six goals in a game, and that came at home. More than a half-century later, Berenson is still the only NHL player to score six goals in a road game.

"I just thought I was lucky and I was having a good game," he told NHL.com 40 years later. "If you play long enough, you're bound to have a good game. The next game (two nights later in Montreal), I couldn't score a goal."

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