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NHLWeird Hockey History

Don Head: The Goalie Who Nearly Led His Team In Penalty Minutes

Don Head played goal for Canada at the 1960 Winter Olympics in Squaw Valley, Calif., going 5-1 with a 1.87 goals-against and a tournament-leading two shutouts as the Canadians won the silver medal.

Head played in the NHL. Yet surprisingly, these two achievements play also-ran status on his resume of hockey accomplishments.

During the 1960-61 season, playing for the Western Hockey League’s Portland Buckaroos, Head came up one minute shy of leading the team in penalty minutes.

Defenseman Jack Bionda led the Buckaroos with 102 penalty minutes, one more than Head accumulated in setting a WHL single-season record for penalty minutes by a goaltender. He was the first goalie in pro hockey history to reach the century mark in PIM.

Known for protecting his crease with fervor, Head was quick to assault the invading enemy both with his stick and his fists. He was also sharp with his tongue, earning four misconducts.

Head was equally stubborn when it came to allowing pucks to get past him. He led the WHL in wins (38), shutouts (7) and goals-against average (2.67) and was named the league’s top rookie

That caught the eye of the NHL’s Boston Bruins, who dealt to acquire Head during the offseason.

He played 39 games for the Bruins during the 1961-62 season. At the age of 28, Head was an NHL rookie.

Head turned the goaltending version of the Gordie Howe hat-trick, oddly enough against Howe’s Detroit Red Wings on Oct. 26, 1961. He posted a 4-0 victory for his first NHL win, blocked 41 shots for his first NHL shutout, and fought Detroit forward Vic Stasiuk in the first period.

Head went 9-26-3 in his lone NHL season, posting a 4.24 GAA and colleting two shutouts, along with 14 penalty minutes and a pair of fighting majors.

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