April 10, 2013

Great Moments In Hockey History: Miracle On Manchester

April 10th, 1982 saw one of the biggest upsets in pro sports history.

It became dubbed the Miracle on Manchester as the mediocre Los Angeles Kings upset Wayne Gretzky and the high flying Edmonton Oilers. While you expect names like Marcel Dionne, Dave Taylor or Charlie Simmer to lead the way in such a feat, it was many of the Kings foot soldiers who stepped up their play to cause the upset. The foot soldier who stepped up the most in that series was Daryl Evans.

Evans was just a rookie at the time. In fact he only played in 14 NHL games prior to those playoffs after spending most of the season learning the pro game at the AHL level. Daryl, a Toronto native, scored 2 goals and 6 assists in his first taste of NHL action.

When the playoffs came along, the Kings were huge first round underdogs against Gretzky and the Oilers. Gretzky had just come off of his record smashing season of 92 goals and 212 points. Everyone expected the Oilers not only to simply destroy the Kings, but all the competition and meet the dynastic New York Islanders in the finals. However someone forgot to tell the Kings. The best of 5 opening round Smythe division battle was an offensive show. The Kings somehow managed to keep pace with the high scoring Oilers and took the Oilers to a decisive 5th game, eventually winning the game.

Evans was the hero in game one as he produced a 4 point night as the Kings shocked the Oilers. The Oilers stormed back in game two to win by an astounding score of 10-8.

The best game of the famous series was game 3 on April 10, 1982. Down 5-0 in the third period, the Kings stormed back to narrow Edmonton's commanding lead. Trailing the Oilers, 5-4, the Kings buzzed around in the Edmonton zone until Steve Bozek's shot beat Grant Fuhr to tie the historic contest with just five agonizing seconds remaining. The Forum was rocking when overtime began, and at 2:35 of the extra period, rookie Daryl Evans sent the puck over Fuhr's shoulder to end an incredible game.

"We trailed in the game 5-0 after two periods. I remember coach Don Perry and the rest of the guys saying let's go out there and play a strong third period and get some momentum for the next game. In that third period we got some breaks, especially with the major penalty to Edmonton late in the period, and tied it after regulation."

"On the winning goal we had myself, center Doug Smith and left wing Steve Bozek out for the draw in the Oiler zone to the right of Grant Fuhr. Smitty won the draw and I moved in about two feet and just shot. I wasn't really picking any opening I just was trying to get the shot on net. As it turned out I beat Fuhr up high over his right shoulder and before I knew it everyone on the team was piling on top of me at the other end of the ice."

Los Angeles went on to shock Edmonton with a series victory.

Here's the full Daryl Evans biography.

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