Monday, May 9, 2016

Third String Goalie 7th Anniversary - Neal Broten

Today is the seventh anniversary of Third String Goalie. To date we have made 2200 posts, are followed by 77 people here on blogger, by 337 on our Facebook page, and 1,303 of the most intelligent people on Twitter.

We've written about jerseys from Alaska across North America, Europe and Asia to Japan and from Finland down to South Africa, including jerseys from the United States, Canada, Iceland, Great Britain, France, the Netherlands, Germany, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Switzerland, Italy, Slovenia, the Czech Republic, Croatia, Austria, Greece, Slovakia, Hungary, Yugoslavia, South Africa, Poland, Latvia, Belarus, Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, China and Japan.

In addition to the countries we've written about, we've also had visitors from 206 different countries and territories, which still shocks us to no end, often wondering what someone from someplace like Malawi or Iran was expecting to find when they arrived here?

We've written about the oldest hockey sweater in existencebrand new releases and sweaters never actually used. we've covered jerseys we love and those we do not.

We've also gone astray a time or two with unexpected stories we felt worth sharing and we sincerely hope you've enjoyed the ride.

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Also, we are pleased to announce we are having an Anniversary Sale in the Third String Goalie Online Shop Sale!

Prices have never been lower and we have t-shirts, polos, sweatshirts, hoodies, jackets, clothing for kids, tote bags, home and office, mugs and even buttons all featuring our vintage Third String Goalie logo.

Click the image below for The Third String Goalie Online Shop
Third String Goalie Branded Goods proudly featuring
the Patron Saint of Goaltenders Georges Vezina. 

In honor of our 7th anniversary, we have chosen to feature one of our favorite players to have worn the number 7.

Hailing from the tiny town of Roseau, Minnesota, Neal Broten appeared in the legendary Minnesota State High School Hockey Tournament three times from 1976 to 1978.

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Neal Broten (R) with future Golden Gopher teammate and
future NHLer Butsy Erickson while with the Roseau Rams

From there he relocated south to the Twin Cities to join head coach Herb Brooks and the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers for the 1978-79 season where he found immediate success, as he scored 21 goals and 71 points in 40 games on his way to being named  the WCHA Rookie of the Year. During the season Broten was also a member of the United States National Team at the 1979 World Junior Tournament, scoring 2 goals and 6 points in 5 games.

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Broten's first international experience came at the 1979 World Juniors

After returning to Minnesota for the remainder of the college hockey season, the Golden Gophers advanced to the NCAA Championship game, where Broten scored an incredible, diving goal which would turn out to be the game winner as Minnesota defeated their arch rivals the University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux 4-3. Note in the video the rookie Broten wearing #14.

Instead of returning to Minnesota for the 1979-80 college season, Broten was selected by Brooks to be a member of the 1980 United States Olympic Team for the upcoming games in Lake Placid, New York. During their season long schedule of games, Broten scored 25 goals and 55 points in 55 games against a schedule of games against various college and minor league teams. During the Olympics, Broten had 2 goals and 3 points in the 7 games the United States played, which included the "Miracle on Ice" victory over the Soviet Union and their final victory against Finland to secure the gold medal.

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Broten joins the celebration after the Miracle on Ice

Broten returned to the Golden Gophers for the 1980-81 season, now wearing his more familiar high school number of 7 and now teamed with his younger brother Aaron Broten. Neal was limited to 36 of the Gophers 45 games, but still racked up impressive offensive numbers with 54 assists and 71 points, many of which set up Aaron, who led the nation in scoring with 106 points. Neal was subsequently named the winner of the first ever Hobey Baker Award as the nation's top collegiate hockey player.

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A beaming Broten won the first Hobey Baker Award

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Minnesota Gophers 1980-81 R jersey photo Minnesota Gophers 1980-81 H B.jpg
1980-81 University of Minnesota Golden Gophers Neal Broten home jersey

For some reason, Minnesota used Neal's full name rather than N. Broten while he was teammates with brother Aaron.

Neal and Aaron with the full names on their jerseys in 1980-81

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Minnesota Gophers 1980-81 R jersey photo Minnesota Gophers 1980-81 R B.jpg
1980-81 University of Minnesota Golden Gophers Neal Broten road jersey

No names were used on the Golden Gophers road jerseys during the 1980-81 season.

Once the Golden Gophers season ended after making it to another NCAA title game, Neal joined the homestate Minnesota North Stars in time to play the final three games of their regular season, which included scoring his first 2 NHL goals.

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Broten, with General Manager Lou Nanne, signs with the North Stars

The North Stars then went on a deep playoff run all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals after defeating the Boston Bruins in three straight, the Buffalo Sabres in five, the Calgary Flames in a hard-fought six games before running afoul of the New York Islanders dynasty, who defeated Minnesota in five. In 19 playoff games, Broten contributed 1 goal and 7 assists.

Broten Ciccarelli photo Ciccarelli Broten North Stars.jpg
Rookies Ciccarelli and Broten electrified the
North Stars fans during the 1981 Playoffs

Before his first, looming NHL season, Broten returned to the international stage when he was selected for the United States team for the 1981 Canada Cup tournament, where he scored 3 goals and 5 points in six games as the US made it to the Semifinals.

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USA 1981 jersey photo USA 1981 B.jpg
1981 United States National Team Neal Broten Jersey
as worn during the Canada Cup tournament

The North Stars were a team on the rise, having risen from the depths of the NHL by merging with the Cleveland Barons, which netted them several key players, such as Al MacAdam, defenseman Greg Smith and goaltender Gilles Meloche. In addition, their poor finishes allowed them to select Bobby Smith first overall while adding his junior teammate Steve Payne and taking a chance on unsigned rookie Dino Ciccarelli. Broten more than held his own during his first full NHL season by finishing third in team scoring behind Bobby Smith and Ciccarelli with 38 goals and a tantalizing 98 points.

The next two seasons Broten would score a consistent 32 goals and 77 points in 1982-83 to lead the North Stars in scoring for the first time and 28 goals and 89 points in 1983-84 to again lead the team in scoring. He also would play in his first NHL All-Star Game in 1983. That effort earned Broten a spot on the 1984 United States Canada Cup roster later that fall. Broten, teamed with his brother Aaron, scored 3 goals and 4 points in six games as the US again made it as far as the Semifinals.

After a down year in 1984-85, when he was limited to 19 goals and 56 points, Broten rebounded with a stellar 1985-86 season as he not only finished as the North Stars leading scorer for the fourth time with 29 goals and 76 assists for 105 points, but came in ninth overall in NHL scoring as well as becoming the first American player in NHL history to score 100 points in a season. He also played in his second NHL All-Star Game that season.

 When he was on the ice during the 1986-87 season, Broten was productive, scoring 53 points while being limited to 46 games, while 1987-88 was a similar story, as he played in only 54 games with 39 points when he was reunited for a season with his college and Olympic coach Brooks.

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Minnesota North Stars 1987-88 jersey photo Minnesota North Stars 1987-88 B.jpg
Minnesota North Stars B 1987-88 P photo Minnesota North Stars B 1987-88 P_1.jpg
1987-88 Minnesota North Stars Neal Broten jersey

His scoring touch returned in 1988-89 with 56 points but in an again shortened 68 games, which was still good for third on the club.

Again able to play a full schedule in 1989-90, Broten returned to scoring more than a point per game with 23 goals and 85 points in in 80 games. Following the North Stars exit from the playoffs, Broten played in the only World Championship of his career, the 1990 edition held in Switzerland where he scored a goal and 6 points in 8 games.

Back with the North Stars for the 1990-91 season, Broten reached 69 points in 79 games which was followed by a completely unexpected run through the NHL playoffs, as the North Stars, scraped into the playoffs with 68 points, but then eliminated the President's Trophy winning Chicago Blackhawks (106 points) in six games, the St. Louis Blues (105) in six and earned a spot in the Stanley Cup Finals by ousting the Edmonton Oilers (80).

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Broten serving as team captain during the 1991 playoffs

There, the North Stars could not overcome the Pittsburgh Penguins, who took the Cup in six games. Broten was fourth for Minnesota in playoff scoring with 9 goals and 22 points in 23 games. He also served as team captain during the majority of the playoffs, as regular captain Curt Giles was limited to 10 playoff games.

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Minnesota North Stars B 1990-91 jersey photo Minnesota North Stars B 1990-91 B.jpg
Minnesota North Stars B 1990-91 jersey photo Minnesota North Stars B 1990-91 P.jpg
1990-91 Minnesota North Stars Neal Broten jersey

Prior to the start of the 1991-92 season, Broten was embroiled in a contract dispute and began the season with 8 games with Berliner SC Preussen of the German DEL, where he averaged a point per game with 3 goals and 5 assists in 8 games. The two sides then came to a quick agreement in time for Broten to return to Minnesota early enough for him to play in 76 games.

 Minnesota North Stars B 1991-92 jersey photo Minnesota North Stars B 91-92 F.jpg
Minnesota North Stars B 1991-92 jersey photo Minnesota North Stars B 91-92 B.jpg
Minnesota North Stars B 1991-92 P1 photo Minnesota North Stars B 1991-92 P1.jpg
Minnesota North Stars B 1991-92 P2 photo Minnesota North Stars B 1991-92 P2.jpg
1991-92 Minnesota North Stars Neal Broten jersey

The new North Stars ownership changed the North Stars logo and jerseys for the 1991-92 season, hoping to spur jersey sales while hopping on the trend of black jerseys. This jersey features both the NHL 75th Anniversary patch as well as the North Stars 25th Anniversary patch, which was added some time after the start of the season. These jerseys were worn with three color names in a stylized font, which was difficult to read and replaced prior to the start of the regular season with a traditional one color white block font.

He would play one final season in Minnesota in 1992-93 before the franchise was relocated to Dallas for the 1993-94 season.

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Minnesota North Stars B 1992-93 jersey photo Minnesota North Stars B 92-93 B.jpg
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1992-93 Minnesota North Stars Neal Broten jersey

For their final season in Minnesota, the North Stars wore the Stanley Cup Centennial patch.

Broten moved with the club to Dallas, where he reached the 50 point mark for the final time of his carrer with 52 in 79 games.

The start of the 1994-95 season was delayed until January by a labor dispute. Once the season began, Broten, who had been named the Stars team captain, played in 17 games for Dallas, but was limited to just 4 assists. In late February, Broten was traded to the New Jersey Devils, which reignited his offensive game and he contributed 28 points in 30 regular season games. He was then a solid contributor to the Devils postseason run, adding another 19 points in 20 games as New Jersey would go on to win the Stanley Cup, with Broten scoring the Cup winning goal in the final game.

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Broten hoisting the Stanley Cup

He would see action in 55 games for New Jersey in 1995-96, scoring 23 points. His career was now in it's twilight, and he began an unsettled 1996-97 season with three games for New Jersey until a November trade to the Los Angeles Kings. He played 19 games for Los Angeles and then spent 11 games with the Phoenix Roadrunners of the IHL, the only minor league games of his entire 17 year career. In late January, Broten returned to the Stars for the final 20 games of his NHL career after being claimed off waivers from the Kings. Back with the franchise where he spent the vast majority of his career, Broten went out on a high note with 8 goals and 15 points after only 5 assists in his 22 combined games with the Devils and Kings.

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Broten finished his NHL career back with the Dallas Stars

Seemingly finished with his career back in 1997, Broten took to the ice one final time. After their poor showing at the 1998 World Championships, the United States was forced to participate in the Qualifying Round Group 1 in Austria. Broten received the call to help the American effort, along with his brothers Aaron and youngest brother Paul Broten, who had not played since 1992! Neal scored 3 goals and 6 points in three games as the US swept the Austrians, Kazakhstan and Estonia to return to the World Championships.

Aside from the World Championship qualifier, Broten was teammates with his brother Aaron in 1989-90 and 1990-91 while with the North Stars and also played with brother Paul in 1993-94 and 1994-95 while with the Dallas Stars, which led to the occasion need for "N. Broten" on the back of his jerseys.

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Aaron and Neal Broten in the early 1990's
Broten finished his career with 1,099 games played with 289 goals and 634 assists for 923 points. He remains the only player to have ever won the Hobey Baker Award, an Olympic Gold Medal and the Stanely Cup. He and Ed Belfour are the only two with an NCAA Championship, and Olympic Gold Medal and a Stanley Cup.

Additionally, Broten was the first American to score 100 points in an NHL season, was named the winner of the Lester Patrick Trophy in 1998, inducted into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame in 2000, had his number 7 retired by the Dallas Stars in 1998 and voted by fans of the Minnesota Wild as the Greatest Hockey Player in Minnesota history in 2009.

Our video section today begins with an amazing, rare video on the occasion of Broten winning the first Hobey Baker Award.

Next, Broten becomes the first US born player to score 100 points in a season.

In this next video, Broten scores what would be the Stanley Cup winning goal during the 1995 playoffs followed by footage of him hoisting the cup.

Finally, no profile of Broten would be complete without his infamous fight with none other than Wayne Gretzky! This was one of just six fights for Broten during his career.

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