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December 08, 2016

Today in Flyers history: Ron Hextall's historic goal

Before he was the Flyers general manager, Ron Hextall was one heck of a goaltender. He was also one heck of a goal-scorer, at least for his position.

Twenty-nine years ago today, Hextall became the first goalie in NHL history to score a goal during the Flyers' 5-2 win over the Bruins at the Spectrum (R.I.P.). Late in the game, the Bruins pulled their netminder with the Flyers shorthanded, giving them a 6-4 man advantage.

It wasn't enough.

"Boy, he could score a goal sometimes in a situation like this," said the prophetic announcer just seconds before Hextall made history -- although anyone who watched him play knew that it wasn't a matter of if Hextall would score, but a matter of when.

Here's more on Hextall's stick-handling and shooting ability -- two things not often associated with his position -- from the Flyers (via

Hextall was not the first NHL goaltender who was adept puckhandler, and not the first who was willing to venture far out of his crease to play the puck. But he took it to whole different level both with his skill and aggressiveness. Hextall was eminently capable of triggering the breakout with a long stretch pass or intercepting a dump-in by the attacking team and clearing the right back out of the defensive zone.

And then there was his shooting ability. Hextall was so adept and physically strong that he developed the ability to routinely be able to fire the puck from goal line to goal line using his goalie stick. []

Hextall wasn't the first goalie to be credited with scoring a goal, but he was the first to do so by intentionally shooting the puck into the back of the opponents' net.

In 1979, the Islanders' Billy Smith was credited with a goal by virtue of being the last Islander to touch the puck on a delayed penalty call in which the Colorado Rockies accidentally put the puck into their own net after an errant pass by Rob Ramage. []

But that wasn't the end of Hextall's NHL scoring. The following season, this time during the playoffs, Hextall picked up his second goal.  In doing so, he not only became the first goalie with multiple goals, but the first to score one in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

In the entire history of the NHL, only 14 goals have been scored by goaltenders (11 different players). Of those 14, just seven were scored intentionally. Only Martin Brodeur (3), the only other goalie on the list with multiple goals, technically has more than Hextall. And I say "technically" because two of his three goals came in the same way as Billy Smith's did -- being the last player on his team to touch a puck that turned into an own-goal by the opposition. Only his first came by shooting at the opponent's net.

So by that standard, Hextall remains the lone goalie with multiple goals by, you know, actually trying to score.

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