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On This Date in Sports December 8, 1987

In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com

Ron Hextall of the Philadelphia Flyers becomes the first NHL goalie to shoot and score, sending the puck down the length of the ice into an open net in the late stages of a 5-2 win over the Boston Bruins at the Spectrum. Billy Smith was the first goalie, credited with a goal after an own goal by the Colorado Rockies in 1970. Hextall though was the first goalie to actually shoot a puck into the opposing goal.

Ron Hextall was born to a hockey family on May 3, 1964, in Brandon, Manitoba. Both his grandfather Bryan Hextall and father Bryan Hextall Jr. and uncle Dennis Hextall all played in the NHL, with careers that lasted at least ten years. His grandfather was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1969, after an 11-year career with the New York Rangers, where he was best known for scoring the Stanley Cup winning goal in 1940.  Ron Hextall made his NHL debut at the start of the 1986/87 and won the Vezina Trophy, as the NHL’s best goalie, as he filled the void left after the death of Pelle Lindbergh. The Flyers would go to the Stanley Cup Final that season, losing to the Edmonton Oilers in seven games. Despite falling short of winning the cup, Hextall was named the winner of the Conn Smythe Award for playoff MVP.

Ron Hextall was always an aggressive goalie, not choosing to stay back in his net, as he often challenged and even hit opposing skaters. He was not afraid to leave the puck and start an offensive attack. With the Philadelphia Flyers leading his Boston Bruins 4-2, Coach Terry O’Reilly pulled Goalie Reggie Lemelin for the extra attacker. With the net open, Ron Hextall playing the puck made the historic goal with 12 seconds left sealing a 5-2 win. With the win, the Flyers who were off to a slow start improved to 10-13-4, while the Bruins record stood at 17-11-2.

Though the first goalie to shoot a puck into the opposing goal, Ron Hextall was not the first goalie to be credited with a goal. On November 28, 1979, Billy Smith of the New York Islanders was credited with a goal, when Rob Ramage of the Colorado Rockies accidentally put a puck into his own net, after Bill McKenzie was pulled during a delayed penalty. Ron Hextall would repeat his goalscoring feat on April 11, 1989, becoming the first goalie to score a playoff goal in an 8-5 win over the Washington Capitals.

Overall there have been 14 goals from goalies in the history of the NHL, two of which have come in the playoffs. Seven of these goals have come on a length of the ice shot, with seven others coming off own goals. Ron Hextall’s record of two goals was topped by the Greatest Goalie of All-Time Martin Brodeur, who scored three NHL goals. Like Hextall, Brodeur was an expert at playing the puck, so much so the NHL changed created the trapezoid behind the next to contain him. Martin Brodeur scored his first goal in a 1997 playoff game against the Montreal Canadiens. On February 15, 2000, against the Flyers, Brodeur was credited with a goal after Daymond Langkow put the puck in his own net. The goal would be the game-winner as the Devils beat the Flyers 4-2. It is the only goal scored by a goalie to also be the game-winner. Martin Brodeur’s record-breaking third goal came on March 21, 2013, against the Carolina Hurricanes, making him the only goalie to score in three decades.

The most recent goalie to be credited with a goal was Mike Smith, at the time playing with the Phoenix Coyotes who scored with 0.1 seconds left in a 5-2 win against the Detroit Red Wings on October 19, 2013.