A Bracebridge hockey historian is scouring the community for anyone who may have the official paperwork behind a goaltender’s remarkable two-goal game.
The historic game, which took place between the Muskoka Bears and the Durham Huskies on February 21, 1997, made front page news in local newspapers when Bears goalie Ryan Venturelli racked up two empty-net goals. According to Bracebridge hockey historian Ken Veitch Sr., it is believed to be the only time in hockey history that a goalie accomplished such a feat.
Venturelli, who was 18 at the time, scored both goals in the third period as Durham was trailing 9-5. With 11 minutes left in the game, Durham pulled their goalie. It was in an ensuing faceoff, Venturelli scored his first goal of the game.
“They won the draw quickly and their guy took a quick shot and I gloved it, and everyone sort of stood still because it was so quick,” Venturelli recalls. “So I just put it down and shot. I was kind of going ‘this is kind of dumb,’ but not too many goalies get that chance.”
Near the six-minute mark, an opposing player tried to pass the puck back to a teammate on point who failed to receive it. The puck slid down the ice and into the empty Huskies net. Because Venturelli was the last Bears player to touch the puck, he was given credit for a second goal.
A mortgage development manager today, Venturelli went on to play hockey with the Huntsville Wildcats, Potsdam University in upstate New York, and NCAA division three in the years following the two goals. Since that historic day, Venturelli hasn’t been able to successfully net another goal.
“I’ve been trying in men’s leagues, but haven’t got it done,” he said. “I’ve hit the post. I’ve scored when they ran out of time. I’ve missed the net a few times.”
While a number of media, including this newspaper, documented the feat, Veitch is searching for the score sheet from that historic game that will give the Hockey Hall of Fame enough official proof to recognize Venturelli’s accomplishment. Both Venturelli and Veitch have searched for a copy with the now defunct Bears and Huskies teams, along with the Metro Junior A league, which has since merged with the Provincial Junior A league.
So far, their efforts have been fruitless. They are hoping that there is a chance somebody in the community still has a copy of the score sheet from that day.
“It’s worthy of mention in the Hockey Hall of Fame,” said Veitch.
In a September article that Veitch wrote for the Society for International Hockey Research, Venturelli said he will donate his game stick and both pucks he scored to the Hockey Hall of Fame is someone comes forward with a copy of the game sheet.
“It kind of makes it somewhat official for me, and it’s permanent,” said Venturelli. “To me it would just be great to be a part of hockey history.”
Last year, Veitch documented the story of a historic 1952 game in Bracebridge, which was the first NHL old-timer’s game and the first NHL game recorded for television. It was also the first time that two serving politicians – both former NHL players – got into a fisticuff on ice. Veitch said official recognition of Venturelli’s feat will be yet another milestone for Bracebridge’s rich hockey history.
“It’s another first for Bracebridge,” he said.
Anyone who can help locate the game sheet for Venturelli’s two-goal game is asked to contact Veitch by phone at 705-645-5396, or by email at email@example.com.