The "Firsts" Contest has ended. We have ourselves a winner. However, it's time that we examine the answers to the "Firsts" Contest in detail. There were a number of answers put forth. Some were right. Some were not so right. And some were... well, I'm not sure where they came from, but they were answers. In any case, I'll present the correct answers to the contest questions, and then I'll reveal who is eligible for prizes. Sound good? Well, that's how it is, so let's check the answers.
- The first professional goaltender to be credited with a goal was Michel Plasse of the CHL's Kansas City Blues. Plasse intercepted a pass against Oklahoma City on February 21, 1971 and lofted the puck down the ice into the yawning cage to seal a Kansas City 3-1 win. Plasse turned the trick nearly eight years before Billy Smith was credited as the first NHL goaltender to score a goal.
- The first goaltender to wear a trapper was Emile "The Cat" Francis. Francis, the Chicago Blackhawks' goaltender, wore a specially-designed first baseman's mitt with additional protection in a 1947 game against the Detroit Red Wings.
- The first goaltender to play 100 games without recording a shutout was Eldon "Pokey" Reddick. Reddick never recorded a shutout in the NHL during his 132-game career.
- Ron Stackhouse was the only OHL defenceman to ever stop a penalty shot. Roger Neilson, the coach of the Peterborough Petes, chose Stackhouse to stop the shot after Stackhouse hauled down a forward on a breakaway. The OHL put a stop to this practice shortly after Stackhouse's historic stop.
- The first North American-trained player to lace up the skates in the Russian Super League was Tod Hartje, a native of Anoka, Minnesota. Hartje, a Harvard graduate, was drafted by the Winnipeg Jets. GM Mike Smith sent Hartje to play in Russia with Sokol Kiev as an experiment in the early 1990s, nearly five years before Vincent Riendeau suited up for Lada Togliatti.
- The first female goaltender to win a professional game was Erin Whitten. Whitten was called into action on October 30, 1993 for the ECHL's Toledo Storm midway through their game against the Dayton Bombers. Whitten backstopped the Storm to a 6-5 win, earning her first win in professional hockey. She appeared in four games that season, recording a 2-0-0 record.
- Maple Leaf Gardens was the first arena to remove the chain-link fence, replacing it with Plexiglass to protect the fans. It was installed shortly after the Christmas break in 1946.
- March 10, 1955 saw the Montreal Forum use a zamboni for the first time between periods to lay down new sheets of ice for the players to skate on.
- The first player to suit up for all six Original Six teams was Vic Lynn. Many historians doubted his claim, but Brian MacFarlane contacted Lynn, and Lynn confirmed that he indeed appeared in one game for the New York Rangers in his career in 1942-43. Following that, he played for the Red Wings in 1943-44, the Montreal Canadiens in 1945-46, the Toronto Maple Leafs from 1946-50, the Boston Bruins from 1950-52, and the Chicago Blackhawks in 1953-54.
- Current Detroit Red Wing Kris Draper holds the honour of scoring an NHL goal before scoring a goal in junior hockey. Draper signed as a free agent with the Winnipeg Jets in the summer of 1990. He appeared in his first game with the Jets on October 4, 1990 against the Toronto Maple Leafs, netting his first NHL goal in his first game. After three games, Draper was sent to the Ottawa 67's where he scored his first goal in junior hockey.
- The first coach to sign himself to a professional player's contract was Jacques Demers. Due to injuries and illness, Demers found himself short of the minimum 15 players required to fill out a WHA roster as his Quebec Nordiques arrived in Edmonton to play the Oilers on March 18, 1979. Demers, who was also the Nordiques' General Manager, signed himself to a five-day tryout contract in order to meet the minimum requirement for the game. He never took a shift, and wasn't needed as a player in the game as the Nordiques blew out the Oilers in the game by a 7-2 score.
- The Calgary Flames have had Harvey the Hound entertaining their crowds since 1984. Harvey was the first furry entertainer in NHL history.
- The first NHL player to make a cameo in a soap opera was Ron Greschner of the New York Rangers. He appeared on an episode of Ryan's Hope in July 1980.
- The first puck to not become a souvenir is in the Hockey Hall of Fame. The two teams who prevented any fans from going home that night with a game-used puck were the visiting Minnesota North Stars and the hometown Los Angeles Kings. The game occurred on November 10, 1979 between these two teams.
- The first goaltender to win 300 games in the NHL without winning a Stanley Cup is John Vanbiesbrouck. The Beezer amassed 374 wins in his career, and went to the Stanley Cup Finals twice, but never earned the right to hoist to the Stanley Cup.
That's all for today, but there are a number of contests planned for this hockey season, so keep your eye on HBIC for the next chance to win some free gear!
Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!