Parent steals show as Flyers beat Rangers in alumni game

Flyers goalie Bernie Parent talks to Rangers Mark Messier. (Ron Cortes/ Staff Photographer)
Flyers goalie Bernie Parent talks to Rangers Mark Messier. (Ron Cortes/ Staff Photographer)
Posted: December 31, 2011

Thirty-two years after his Hall-of-Fame career ended, white-haired Bernie Parent pitched another shutout on Saturday.

In a 5 minute, 32-second stint in which he stopped all six shots he faced - including one on Ron Duguay's breakaway - the 66-year-old Parent was a showstopper at the Winter Classic alumni game against the New York Rangers at electric Citizens Bank Park, sparking the Flyers' 3-1 victory.

As he skated off the ice after his crowd-hugging appearance, chants of "Bernie, Bernie, Bernie" echoed around the sold-out, orange-clad ballpark. The crescendo built as fans, young and old - many who weren't even born when Parent led the Flyers to Stanley Cups in 1974 and 1975 - joined forces. If you shut your eyes, it was easy to imagine you were sitting in the Spectrum during the days of leisure suits, 45-cents-a-gallon gas prices and the disco rage.

Bernie, Bernie, Bernie.

 "I was fortunate that they went easy on me," a smiling Parent said of the Rangers.

Parent was asked what he was thinking as Duguay - who drew whistles when introduced, just like old times - came in on a breakaway.

"I said, 'Lord, save me one more time,' and he did," Parent said.

Saud Duguay: "I wasn't going to pick the top corner on him."

Parent, whose training was limited because he had shoulder-replacement surgery in June, said it was nice for some of the older fans to "rekindle" the magic of the mid 1970's.

"It seems like it happened yesterday; it's incredible" that so much time has passed, he said.

Tweeted one fan: "Who starts in the Classic? Bob, Bryz or Bernie?"

The tweeter was referring to Sergei Bobrovsky, Ilya Bryzgalov and Parent, a man who likes to live on his boat at the Jersey Shore in the summer.

The Flyers and Rangers will play in the Winter Classic on Monday at 1 p.m.

Parent became emotional when someone mentioned the fans chanting his name.

"I don't know how to describe it," he said. "I guess the best way to describe it is: The feeling you get when people chant your name, money cannot buy. Any amount of money cannot buy that. You know what, you look at this, it's one big family who got together today. It's not the team. It's the people from Philly and it's one big family, and we enjoyed the whole thing as a family."

Despite being outshot by a 17-5 margin in the opening period, the Flyers built a 2-0 lead. A running clock was used for the 20-minute periods.

Just like in their heyday, John LeClair took a pass from his old Legion of Doom linemate, Eric Lindros, and scored with 10:30 left in the opening period, finishing off a two-on-one.

About three minutes later, Shjon Podein scored on a rebound to make it 2-0, igniting the crowd of 45,808.

Parent and Mark Laforest were flawless in the first. Laforest stopped Nicholas Kypreos on a penalty shot early in the second period before being replaced by Neil Little.

Glenn Anderson sliced the Flyers' lead to 2-1 with 7:40 left in the second, scoring on a scramble in front as the puck went off his skate and past Little, who later gained revenge.

Late in the second period, Podein lifted the puck over the net on a penalty shot.

Instead of penalties, teams were awarded penalty shots.

Mark Howe, who was recently inducted into the Hall of Fame, converted a penalty shot to make it 3-1 with about 151/2 minutes left by beating Dan Blackburn.

"One of the reasons I was so happy to do this is because I've never put on the blades with Bernie," said Howe, who called the game "a celebration of hockey" for the fans of both teams. "When I was a player here, Bernie was the goalie coach, so it's an honor."

Little stopped Anderson on a penalty shot with 5:33 to go.

At practice Friday in Voorhees, defenseman Joe Watson, an original Flyer who at 68 was the oldest player on either alumni team, grabbed a can of beer and pronounced: "Boys, here's your protein!"

Apparently, the "protein" helped them defeat a much-younger Rangers team.

That and an inspirational performance by a beloved goalie.

"I'm still in my prime," Parent cracked.


Contact staff writer Sam Carchidi at scarchidi@phillynews.com or on Twitter @BroadStBull.

 

comments powered by Disqus
|
|
|
|
|