The name Mel "Sudden Death" Hill will forever be frozen in the etches of hockey history. That's because of his NHL record three overtime goals in the same playoff series.
Born in Glenboro, Manitoba, Mel played his junior hockey for the Saskatoon Wesleys, Sudbury Wolves and Sudbury Frood Miners. His last season in Sudbury (1936-37), which saw him score a league leading 18 goals in 15 games, convinced the Boston Bruins sign him as a free agent on October 26, 1937.
Hill was no immediate hit in Beantown by any means. It wasn't until his second season, 1938-39, that he gained regular ice time, scoring 10 goals during the regular season. It was in the subsequent post-season that he had his immortalizing series against the New York Rangers.
"The first game (2-1) was a real endurance test, " Hill recalled. " It went on for three overtimes. Bill Cowley fed me a pass down the wing and I beat Davey Kerr with a high shot to put us ahead in the series. I scored on Kerr again the following night in overtime (3-2) and we took a 2-0 lead over New York."
Boston won the third game as well before Rangers unthinkably roared back with three straight wins to set up a deciding seventh game at the Boston Garden. Once again the teams battled to an overtime after Ray Getliffe had scored for Boston and Muzz Patrick for New York to make it 1-1. Like in game one the teams played two scoreless overtime periods before Mel became the hero once more.
"It was around eight minutes of the third overtime, " Hill remembered. " Cowley fed me a pass from behind the net and I was right on top of Rangers goalie Bert Gardiner. I held the puck for a second then flipped it up into the net on the short side. The fans went wild and it was a tremendous thrill to win a series for my team. "
Full "Sudden Death" Hill Biography
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