Bobby Orr, the Big Bad Bruins & ‘The Goal’

The 1980 US Olympic hockey team is credited with sparking interest in the sport in America, but it was a club a decade earlier that helped make the Miracle on Ice squad possible.

The 1970 Boston Bruins, led by Bobby Orr, Phil Esposito, Derek Sanderson and Gerry Cheevers, captured Beantown’s first Stanley Cup in 29 years when they swept the St. Louis Blues in the finals.

The series-winning goal was scored 40 years ago today, when Sanderson fed Orr in front of the net and the future Hall of Fame defenseman put the puck past Blues goalie Glenn Hall just as St. Louis defenseman Noel Picard lifted Orr’s skate with his stick.

The result was Orr’s celebratory flight (seen above), a photo as famous as any in sports.

With the Big Bad Bruins’ win, and their second Stanley Cup two years later, hockey became the game throughout much of New England, and several of the players who would go on to lead the United States to the Olympic gold in the 1980 games were inspired by Orr and Co.

Longtime Boston Globe hockey writer Kevin Paul DuPont remembers that game here, writing about his thoughts as he recently replayed a tape he made of the contest as a youngster. As usual, DuPont’s writing is as picturesque as the game he writes about:

It was May 10, Mothers Day, with temperatures in the low 90s outside and things steaming hot inside the Garden. Derek Sanderson returned a pass to Orr, the puck went behind Blues goalie Glenn Hall, and defenseman Noel Picard launched the 22-year-old Orr into an orbit that, for our part of the planet, was just as important and glorious as any of those Apollo missions out of Florida.

I took my own flight the other day, for the first time dusting off the Sears Silvertone audio cassette recording I made of that game, sitting that afternoon in my parents’ house with one eye on the TV broadcast from Causeway Street, the other on the volume meter of my trusty, Sears-bought Ampex recorder. Lots of Sears shopping in our house in those days. It was about the only big box store we knew, other than Jordan Marsh and Somerville Lumber.

Fred Cusick handled the radio call, with John Peirson his partner. Always a minimum of banter between those two, and it was a joy to hear them work again, especially when it came to the winning goal with 40 seconds gone in overtime.

“Orr to Sanderson, back to Orr . . . SCORES!’’ Cusick bellowed, “. . . and what could be better than THAT?!’’

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