On January 24th, 1978, director/producer Ray Cole and myself drove to the Buffalo Auditorium, “The Aud”, now long gone, for an evening film shoot of the first ever NHL All-Star game held in that city.
Prior to that evening, I’d spent a couple of years editing an annual highlight film for the Buffalo Sabres. These hockey highlight films were produced before the advent of regular TV broadcast of NHL games, and were promotional programs for the Sabres.
By the time of the 31st Annual All-Star game, I’d also been shooting selected Sabres games with a 16mm Bolex camera. The camera was equipped with a 400-foot film magazine allowing about ten-minutes filming duration. We had 2 film magazines, which would be reloaded between periods as needed.
As we didn’t film continuously due to the limitations and cost of film processing, one had to gauge the ebb and flow of the game. One moment the puck could be down the other end of the ice in a scramble, the next a breakaway could be coming toward you. You had to be prepared to capture those highlights.
The typical driving trip from Toronto to Buffalo was about an hour and a half, with a brief stop at McDonalds to grab a burger and drink for the road.
At the end of the game, we’d pack up and head home reaching Toronto by one or two o’clock in the morning. We weren’t equipped to shoot interviews most of the time. So, no post game sound bites.
In a regular season or play-off game, I was usually on a second floor corner platform providing an excellent overview of the ice.
On this night, and what I remember most about the game, was being located on ice level across from the teams. As exciting as the opportunity was, I had to focus on what I was there to do, capturing the spirit of the game. Two key members of the Sabres team were playing that night, Richard Martin and Gilbert Perreault – two thirds of the Buffalo’s famous French Connection line.
The Wales Conference, of which Martin and Perreault were members, defeated the Campbell Conference in overtime. Gilbert Perreault scored in sudden death overtime for the 3 – 2 win.