I wouldn't take my boat out in these conditions," said Philadelphia Goaltender Bernie Parent last week after the stifling heat and oppressive humidity in Buffalo—a city which has not yet discovered air conditioning—forced the Flyers and the Sabres to play two Stanley Cup games in a fog that would have kept America's Cup yachts in port. The pea soup rolled in midway through Tuesday's third playoff game and settled waist-high all over the puddly ice, lifting only when the players were sent out en masse to circle the arena and stir up Memorial Auditorium's dead air.
The Sabres and the Flyers wearily skated into overtime, and after 18 minutes of lingering death Buffalo's Gilbert Perreault moved through center and shot the puck cross-ice into the Philadelphia zone. Parent, who could barely make out the shadowy figures in the middle of the ice, never moved. "I didn't have the foggiest notion where the puck was until I saw Jimmy Watson turn for the corner," he said glumly. By the time Parent reacted, Buffalo's Rene Robert had blasted the puck into the net—and the Sabres had defeated the Flyers, 5-4.
"I'll put some windshield wipers on my mask next game," Parent cracked.
"Maybe we should tie fans to our backs," joked Buffalo's Larry Carriere.
However, Philadelphia Coach Freddie Shero hardly thought the conditions were a laughing matter. "Someone could get killed," he said, "and even hockey players don't make that much money."
When the fog returned during Thursday's game, which Buffalo won 4-2 to tie the championship series at two games apiece, the Sabre management unveiled a revolutionary new system for fog control: they had five teams of arena attendants, each armed with a bed sheet, skate around the ice and wave off the fog voodoo-style. "When are the Martians landing?" Parent asked. Back in their air-conditioned Spectrum Sunday afternoon, Philadelphia celebrated the unlimited visibility with a 5-1 win to take a 3-2 lead in the series.