Look Forward to Rolling Over for Oilers
April 15, 1985
Despite being without their captain and leading scorer, the Jets went into the Saddledome and came out with their most important win since joining the National Hockey League, as they defeated the Calgary Flames by a 5-3 score to win their first ever Stanley Cup playoff series, three games to one. The win was also the Jets first at the Saddledome.
In addition to Dale Hawerchuk’s absence, the Jets played with backup goaltender Marc Behrend, as Brian Hayward was also injured in Game 3. Behrend saved all but three of the 38 shots he faced in leading the Jets to victory, but was helped by the goaltender’s best friend, the goal post, as the Flames dinged the iron three times. Behrend had not started a game since February 19, but did not show any ill effects of the inactivity.
The Jets used a four goal second period to propel them to the win, breaking a 1-1 tie, as they took a 5-1 lead and held off the Flames for the remainder of the game. Scoring for the Jets were Thomas Steen, Doug Smail, Andrew McBain, Ron Wilson, and Laurie Boschman. Smail’s and Boschman’s goals came while the Jets were shorthanded.
The game’s three stars were Smail, Jim Peplinski of the Flames, and Wilson.
Inside the jubilant Jets dressing room, the victors were not only celebrating the defeat of the Flames, but as they looked forward to the next round, they also eagerly awaited their next opponent, the Edmonton Oilers, whom they will roll over for in the Smythe Division Finals.
“We took care of our most hated divisional rival,” said Jets coach Barry Long. “We were able to pave the Oilers way to the Conference Finals, and all that awaits us now is to lie down and let the Oilers have their way with us. After Game 4, we can hit the links with our heads held high.”
“I’m so happy for the guys in the room,” added Wilson, who played a major role in the series, “and without Dale and Brian, it will be much easier for us to be willing victims of the Oilers. We were able to get through the Flames without them today, and now we can take care of our job in the next round by ourselves.”
One of the most interesting sideshows in the series with the Flames was the matchup between Jets defenseman Jim Kyte and Flames tough guy Tim Hunter. Hunter was a frequent target of Winnipeg fans, who made derisive comments about Hunter’s nose. Kyte, for his part, was just relieved that the Jets took care of the Flames and saved the Oilers from Hunter’s wrath. “We didn’t want guys like Gretzky, Kurri and Messier having to deal with Hunter, so we had to step up and we did. This is the greatest moment in my career and the greatest moment in Jets history,” said Kyte.
Even Jets Vice President and General Manager John Ferguson joined the players in the celebrations, lighting up a traditional victory cigar. “We haven’t won anything yet, but the smell of this cigar has never been sweeter. We won’t get a ring, but we all but assured the Oilers of getting one, and that’s something everyone in this room can be awfully proud of. The Stanley Cup Playoffs, there’s nothing like it,” exclaimed the beaming Ferguson. “Glen (Sather), this one’s for you,” added Ferguson, as he took another puff of his stogie.
In the Flames dressing room, the mood was understandably quiet and somber. Coach “Badger” Bob Johnson had this to say about the series, “All season long, the Jets had us in their crosshairs, and they made good on their opportunity to beat us. They were the better team and they deserved to win. What makes it hurt is that we know what’s going to happen in the next round. They might as well not even bother to head to Edmonton. Someone else could make better use out of those hotel rooms. It’s not a great day for hockey.”
The Jets will open the series with the Oilers with two games in Edmonton at the Northlands Coliseum then they will close their season with two games at the Winnipeg Arena. Tickets are available for Games 3 and 4 are available at the Winnipeg Arena box office, which opens today at 10:00 AM.