This season the Vegas Golden Knights have reached the Stanley Cup Final in their first season. Although there has been a lot made about their accomplishments as the National Hockey League’s latest expansion team, the 1967-1968 St. Louis Blues also made it to the Stanley Cup final in their first season.
The only caveat to this accomplishment was that the Blues were one of six expansion teams to added in the 1967-1968 season. The Blues joined the Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota North Stars, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins and California Seals as the NHL expanded from six to 12 teams. All of the six expansion teams were placed in the same division so any of the teams was guaranteed to make it to the final.
In their first NHL game, the Blues and Minnesota North Stars played to a 2-2 tie in St. Louis. Larry Keenan scored the Blues’ first goal. The Blues were originally coached by Lynn Patrick but Patrick resigned in November and was replaced by Scotty Bowman.
The Blues finished their first season with a record or 27-31-16 for third place in the West Division. They finished the season 3-1-1 to get into the playoffs. Gordon “Red” Berenson was the team’s leading scored with 22 goals in 55 games.
In the playoffs, the Blues knocked off the Philadelphia Flyers in seven games. The Blues had a 3-1 lead in the series but the Flyers routed the Blues 6-1 in Game 5 then won Game 6 in double-overtime to force a seventh game. In the seventh game, the Blues scored on Power Play goals from Frank St. Marseille and Keenan. Berenson put the game away with a goal in the third for a 3-1 win.
In the semifinals, the Blues defeated the Minnesota North Stars in seven games to advance to the Stanley Cup finals. Ron Schock had the game winner 2:50 into overtime for the Blues.
Although the Blues were swept by the Montreal Canadiens in the Stanley Cup finals, all four games were decided by one goal while two of those games went into overtime.
- May 5, 1968 – Montreal 3, St. Louis 2 (ot)
- May 7, 1968 – Montreal 1, St. Louis 0
- May 9, 1968 – Montreal 4, St. Louis 3 (ot)
- May 11, 1968 – Montreal 3, St. Louis 2
Nashville Predators’ television host, Terry Crisp (a.k.a. “Crispy”) was selected in the Blues’ expansion draft.
The Blues also made it to the Stanley Cup Finals the next two seasons but were swept by the Canadiens and Boston Bruins. They have not been to the Stanley Cup finals since then.
It is the middle of June and the ice has finally melted on the 2016-2017 hockey season. Here is a recap on the champions of each league:
National Hockey League (NHL): Pittsburgh Penguins
- The Penguins are the first team to repeat as Stanley Cup champions since the Detroit Red Wings did it in 1997 and 1998. The Penguins defeated Columbus (4-1), Washington (4-3), Ottawa (4-3) and Nashville (4-2) to win their 5th cup in franchise history. Sidney Crosby was named the MVP.
American Hockey League (AHL): Grand Rapids Griffins
- The Griffins defeated the Syracuse Crunch in six games to win their second Calder Cup. They defeated Milwaukee (3-0), Chicago (4-1) and San Jose (4-1) on their way to the Cup final. Griffins’ forward Tyler Bertuzzi was named the finals MVP. The Griffins are the top farm team for the Detroit Red Wings.
ECHL: Colorado Eagles
- The Eagles won their first Kelly Cup championship in team history. Defenseman Matt Register was named the MVP to become the first defenseman in the ECHL’s 29-year history to receive the award. The Eagles defeated Idaho (4-1), Allen (4-2), Toledo (4-1) and South Carolina (4-0) to win the Cup. The Eagles are affiliated with the Colorado Avalanche.
Federal Hockey League (FHL): Danville Dashers
- The Dashers completed the best season in Danville history by winning the Commissioner’s Cup after setting a new league record with 129 points in the regular season. The Dashers defeated Watertown (2-1) and Berlin (3-2) to win their first championship. Danville forward Gehrett Sargis was named the MVP of the Commissioner Cup playoffs with four goals and four assists.
Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL): Macon Mayhem
- The Mayhem won their first President’s Cup title in just their second season. They defeated Columbus (2-1), Pensacola (2-0) and Peoria (2-0). Goalie Jordan Ruby was named the MVP.
North American Hockey League (NAHL): Lone Star Brahmas
- The Brahmas were crowned Robertson Cup National Champions. Drake Glover was named the tournament MVP to lead the Brahmas their first title. Lone Star defeated Wichita Falls (3-0), Corpus Christi (3-2), Janesville (2-0) and Aston (1-0) on their way to the Robertson Cup.
United States Hockey League (USHL): Chicago Steel
- The Steel won the Clark Cup Championship beating the Sioux City Musketeers 3 games to 2 for their first title. Eduards Tralmaks was the MVP with 10 goals and two assists in the playoffs. His 10 goals are tied for the most in USHL playoff history. Chicago defeated Youngstown (3-2) and Dubuque (3-1) in the playoffs.
Western Hockey League (WHL): Seattle Thunderbirds
- The Thunderbirds captured the Ed Chynoweth Cup for the first time in the team’s 40-year history. Mathew Barzal was named the MVP. Seattle defeated Tri-City (4-0), Everett (4-0), Kelowna (4-2) and Regina (4-2). The Thunderbirds won a dramatic Game 6 at Regina in overtime to win the cup.
National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL): Buffalo Beauts
- The Beauts stunned heavily favored Boston Pride to win the Isobel Cup. Despite a third place finish in the regular season, Buffalo defeated the Pride 3-2 to win the title. Buffalo goalie Brianne McLaughlin was named MVP with 60 saves in the game. The Beauts defeated New York (4-2) and Boston (3-2) in the playoffs.