I can listen to it over and over on the St. Louis Blues’ long-playing record album, commemorating only their second season of existence–the 1968-69 campaign. Here is the broadcast by the late, great Dan Kelly.
“They moved on to Philadelphia and the Spectrum. It was November 7th, and a night to remember for the Blues’ number seven.
“(Red) Berenson around (Ed) Van Impe, right in on goal, he shoots, he scores!
“(Billy) McCreary ahead at center to Berenson…Berenson knocks it by Van Impe. He has a break. Berenson shoots, he scores! Another great goal by the redhead!
“(Camille) Henry a great pass to Berenson……….he shoots, he scores. The hat trick for Red Berenson!
“Here’s Camille Henry ahead to Berenson who has a break at center. Berenson in, he shoots, he scores! Berenson has four in a row and the Blues lead 4-0!
“Van Impe, who has broken his stick, is back to get it. He lost it to McCreary. He’s in with Berenson. Berenson shoots, he scores! Berenson has scored his fifth goal and the Blues lead 5-0! What a night for the redhead!
“…ahead for McCreary. Van Impe lost it to Berenson. Berenson has a break! One man back! Here he comes! A shot…he scores! Red Berenson has tied the record with six goals in one game! He gets a great ovation from this crowd at the Philadelphia Spectrum! Six goals in one hockey game, tying the record!”
In reality, Berenson didn’t really tie the record. “Phantom” Joe Malone had notched seven goals against Toronto way back on January 31, 1920 in his last game with the Quebec Bulldogs.
But that was a different era. Exactly three weeks earlier, Newsy Lalonde had scored six goals for the Montreal Canadiens, and Malone had another six-goal game that same season. The very next season, Corb Denneny and Cy Denneny each scored six goals in separate games.
No one matched that feat again until Detroit Red Wings’ future Hall-of-Famer Syd Howe did so on February 3, 1944. Then there was more than 24 years until Berenson turned the double hat trick. Maple Leafs’ center Darryl Sittler did likewise on February 7, 1976 (including four assists for a record 10 points), but despite the days of Wayne Gretzky in the wide-open play of the 1980s, no one else has.
Sittler had a five-goal game prior to the end of that same season, and later, both Gretzky and Pittsburgh’s Mario Lemieux each enjoyed four five-goal games in their illustrious Hall of Fame careers. On the final day of 1988, Lemieux pulled a feat that will not likely ever be matched. He scored a goal apiece on even strength, shorthanded, on the power play, on a penalty shot, then into an empty net.
But Berenson remains the only player to pull the six-goal feat on the road. The Flyers’ netminder was Doug Favell, who was just returning after missing five games with a hip injury. He did stop Berenson’s first shot on goal, but not much else. But the first goal did not even come until the 16:42 mark of the opening period.
“It was early in the year, and I hadn’t scored in the previous couple of games,” said Berenson, who had notched just three goals in the Blues 5-5-2 start. “When I scored the first goal, I went around Van Impe and scored on my backhand. I remember saying to myself, ‘Thank God I can still score!’ “
Could he ever! Berenson went on to score on all four of his second period shots, also tying a record for most goals in a period. Those four second-period goals amazingly came within just a nine-minute span!
By the time it was 4-0, the rather slim Spectrum crowd of 9,164 was pulling for Berenson in his attempt at history.
“I don’t remember exactly what the chants were, but there was a lot of support from the Philadelphia fans,” Berenson recalled. “We had a pretty good rivalry started with them, and it got even stronger as the years went on. I was probably the last player on St. Louis that Philadelphia fans ever cheered for!”
How true that statement is! Years later, late Cardinals baseball broadcaster had this comment about Philadelphia fans: “They would boo their own grandchildren at Easter egg hunts!”
There was also the famed halftime of the December 15, 1968 football game in which Philadelphia Eagles fans pelted Santa Claus with snowballs.
Through it all, Berenson showed his usual full measure of humility about scoring six goals and even rattling another off the crossbar.
“I can tell you I probably had better games, ” he said, “but just didn’t have the numbers, the statistics, or the goals to show for it. You have good games, but sometimes they don’t show up on the scoreboard. That game showed up on the scoreboard!”
Berenson, who notched 261 goals and 397 assists for 658 points while playing 987 games for the Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers, Detroit Red Wings (the famous Garry Unger trade) and twice for the Blues between 1961 and 1978, was briefly a Blues head coach. He is now in his 27th season coaching his alma mater, the University of Michigan.
In addition to coaching the Wolverines to two NCAA Championships among 10 Frozen Four appearances, Berenson notched his 700th coaching win in just under 1100 games, on the second weekend this October. By sheer number of games played, Berenson is the fastest NCAA hockey coach ever to reach that milestone.
Born Gordon Arthur Berenson, the Regina, Saskatchewan native will turn 71 on December 8.
Sources: “Dan Kelly With Moments to Remember in the 1968-69 Championship Season” LP record album, http://www.westerncollegehockeyblog.com/2010/10/15/1751309/red-berenson-700-wins-and-beyond, http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=390749, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Berenson