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By George Walters, Sabres History Correspondant
Saturday, June 19, 1999

The "Dream" was shattered by one of the least likely villains. Bob Kelly, sometimes called "Hound" didn't expect to be playing in this situation. Kelly had scored only11 goals during the regular season and wasn't playing on any regular line. It was a scoreless game starting out the third period and Kelly was out for the opening faceoff. For some unknown reason, he was replacing Bill Barber at left wing, who had started the game. Kelly was being teamed with Bobby Clarke and Reggie Leach. The puck went behind the Sabres net and Kelly slammed into Korab as they battled for the puck. Bobby Clarke joined in and trapped Korab to the boards. Kelley got to the puck and tried to wrap around Roger Crozier, who was in for Desjardins. Crozier tried to poke the puck away from Kelly but failed. Kelley decided to shoot the puck before another Sabres would barrel into him. The shot went past Crozier, who was blocking the short side and into the far side of the net to open the scoring of the game and it was ultimately the goal that destroyed any Sabres hopes of winning the Stanley Cup for 24 years.

Kelly described the goal as "freak thing." The goal was at the 11 second mark of the third period. There was still plenty of time left, but many in the crowd had their hearts sink to their stomach. In the wild and crazy Flyer dressing room after the game, a champagne-soaked Kelley was asked if his winning goal was the biggest of his life.

"I only score 10 goals a year," Kelly laughed, "surely it was a big goal for me. It's good to score one that means something: to do something important. Clark shot the puck into the corner and I got in front of Korab to work for the puck behind the net. Korab knocked me against the boards and then Clarke held Korab off as I spun off the boards.

"I was free, the puck was there, and I just tried to stuff it in. It was just luck that it went in, one of those freak things."

"Kelly came around the net," added Crozier. "I was covering the short side and he threw it into the long side. I got a piece of it but not enough to keep it out."

The former Smythe Trophy winner (while he played for the Detroit Red Wings) let his feeling out when he added with a sigh, "It's an awful letdown to lose. I think we have the talent on this club to win the Cup. But the Flyers have more experience and they know how to play a little better."

Assistant coach of the Flyers, Mike Nykoluk gave Flyers' coach Fred Shero a word of advice before the third period began. He told him to put Kelly in there in place of Barber because of his skating strength and his muscle.

"I was only able to use him two or three times in the first two periods," Shero said after the game, "because we had so many penalties. And after he scored, I didn't need him any more."

So after Kelly scored what proved to be the final nail in the Sabres coffin for 24 years, he returned to the bench for the remainder of the game.

From that point on, the Sabres battled back and tried to put all the rubber they could on Bernie Parent, who had been described by Shero as "the best goaltender in the world." He made spectacular saves on Jim Schoenfield, Mike Ramsay, and Josh Guevremont to keep the Flyers' lead. The Sabres got two powerplay opportunities. Every time the Sabres got a shot off, "it seemed as though 9 or 10 Flyers were in front of Parent, helping to block the shot," wrote Dick Johnston of the Buffalo News in his game recap. How eerie those words sound in light of the Sabres Stanley Cup finals against the Dallas Stars. It's like Deja Vu all over again!

With the Sabres opening up the play in a desperate effort to tie the game coughed up the puck while the defense was pinching in. Jerry Korab was about to shoot the puck when Orest Kindrachuk stole it and dashed up the ice. Lee Fogolin and Korab chased after Kindrachuk and checked him along the boards, but he retained the puck and sent it to Bill Clement who was cruising down the middle. Clement broke in alone on Crozier and he shot it between Roger's legs to seal the Sabres fate.

Clement, who now makes his living with ESPN, recalls the hallowed event. "I still remember the play. I remember it because we were all so terrified. It was 1-0 against a great offensive team and I was just a kid making my way into the league. The puck came right to me and everything seemed to go slow motion. I was thinking ‘Roger Crozier, crouch goalie, go high glove side,' but as I kept skating in there was this huge five hole. I kept skating, waiting for him to make a move, until finally I was right in the crease with him and I just chipped it and it went through his pads. I remember thinking ‘This can't be happening,' but it stood up and we won."

The fans, who had supported the Sabres in their first 5 years, were almost in tears (some of them were) as the minutes ticked off the clock. During the last minute of play, the fans rallied one last chant for their beloved team: "Thank you Sabres, thank you Sabres, thank you Sabres" roared through the old Auditorium. With only two seconds remaining in the season and the game out of reach for the Sabres, Don Luce and Clarke exchanged complimentary words and the puck was dropped for one last time for a Stanley Cup finals contest for a duration of 24 years in Buffalo. The fans stayed on hand for the awarding of the Stanley Cup ceremonies. They gave the Flyers a thunderous ovation as they skated around with the Cup. They would have to wait another long and grueling 24 years before they had another chance to see their Sabres play in the Stanley Cup finals.

(Sources: Article written by Dick Johnston, News staff reporter, in the BUFFALO NEWS, printed on May 28, 1975. Article written by Jim Kelley, News Sports reporter, in the BUFFALO NEWS, June 8, 1999)