USA Hockey Magazine

January 2014

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BY DEBRA RUGHOO ONE-H1T WONDERS I For Some NHLers, Their First Game Was Also Their Last MAR. 06 1967 28 JANUARY. 2014 t's every hockey player's dream to someday play in the NHL. Some, like Chris Chelios and Mike Modano, are lucky enough to play more than 20 years in the league. NHL careers of this length are rare, however, as the average is between five to six years. Most players have short careers. Very short. In fact, about 5 percent of players only play in one NHL game. One of those players was Detroit-born Gerry Abel, son of three-time Stanley Cup winner, Sid Abel, whose career stretched over 15 years. Unfortunately, Gerry never enjoyed the hockey success that his father did as his first game with the Red Wings on March 6, 1967 was also his last. Despite the 3-1 loss against the N.Y. Rangers, he had the privilege of having his father coach him behind the Gerry Abel Detroit Red Wings Played on the same line with "Mr. Hockey," Gordie Howe, in his one NHL game USAHOCKEYMAGAZINE.COM Detroit bench and playing on the same line as "Mr. Hockey," Gordie Howe. Fifty years earlier, another player actually paid an NHL team to appear in a game. Raymie Skilton of Cambridge, Mass., played several seasons in the All-American Hockey League before he was stationed in Montreal as a munitions expert. He expressed interest in playing in his new city, and offered the Montreal Wanderers $1 to take part in a game. As one of the first American players in the league, Skilton hit the ice on Dec. 21, 1917, which turned out to be his only NHL appearance. While Skilton bought his spot in an NHL game, others had to wait for someone to get injured to play. In the 1950s, teams only carried one goalie, but hired a spare for practice and to attend home games in case either team's goalie needed to be replaced. As a practice goalie for the Bruins, Arlington, Mass., native John Aiken was at Boston Garden on March 13, 1958 watching the game against the Montreal Canadiens when Habs goalie Jacques Plante was injured. With no replacement, Aiken got called out of the crowd to replace Plante halfway through the game. Unfortunately, his only MAR. 10 1992 PHOTOS BY Detroit Ray Leblanc Chicago Blackhawks U.S. Olympian allowed one goal in a 5-1 victory in his only NHL start Red Wings, Chicago Blackhawks and Montreal Canadiens Archives; Getty Images

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