One Of The NHL’s Greatest Players Still Holds West Conference Record – by C. Scott Holland
On the night of March 4, 1960, two future NHLers were battling for the Western Junior B scoring crown. The race was close and both rookie players were posting some very good numbers, plus these two players would also have a good sophomore year.
One of those players was St. Marys’ forward Terry Crisp, a future NHL player and head coach with Calgary and Tampa Bay, while the other was the Sarnia Legionnaires’ equivalent, Phil Esposito, winner of nine NHL individual player awards and a head coach with the New York Rangers.
Yes, that Esposito, who would become a teammate of Bobby Orr and would rise to fame in the late 1960s and early ‘70s firing pucks into NHL nets for the Boston Bruins as well as being the inspirational leader for Team Canada during the famed Summit Series with Russia in 1972.
Although Crisp eclipsed him for the overall league scoring title that season (120 to 108 points) , Esposito certainly left his mark. And it is one record that has stood for 45-plus years.
The Sarnia Legionnaires were playing the Goderich Sailors in game four of their first round of playoffs. However on this particular night even those lofty regular season numbers seemed trivial to what Esposito would accomplish.
With his shooting skills Esposito notched five goals, but if that wasn’t enough, he tallied seven assists along the way to set a single game playoff record of garnering 12 points.
To put it in perspective that plateau is one point higher than the most points in any single regular season game – 11 set by Charlie Vrana (St. Marys Lincolns) in a November 29, 1957 game versus the Preston Pals.
Sarnia won the contest easily by a 15–5 score and took the series 4-0 before advancing to the finals against Crisp and the St. Marys Lincolns. The Lincs would subdue the Legionnaires 4-2 for the playoff title.
Esposito and Crisp would eventually work together in Tampa Bay with the Lightning, Espo was the Lightning founder who hired Crisp as their first head coach in 1992. (Photo: Tampa Bay Times)