I settled into the Forum, Section 12, Row L, Seat 5... and there were a few people who would occasionally accompany me to games. One was my friend Gary Cohen, who had been in NY, and the editor of a music trade paper called Cashbox, but was now in Los Angeles, and starting up a budding fruit juice company. Gary loved going to the games with me, and sat in Seat 4.
The Kings were playing the Islanders on Tuesday, February 15, 1977 and on this particular night, history was ALMOST made. At the time, no National Hockey League goaltender had ever been credited with a goal. The Kings were leading 1-0 with just a couple minutes left to play in the first period and on a delayed penalty against the Kings, the Isles flubbed a pass and sent the puck all the way down the ice into their own net. The goal stood, and seconds later, the Kings public address announcer said, "LOS ANGELES GOAL... by number 30, ROGIE VACHON!!!!" The crowd was going nuts... all 8,000 of us (of course, in true Kings fashion, they reported paid attendance of over 10,250.) So, typical me, I notice the strangest things... the linesman fished the puck out of the empty net, and brought it up to center ice, where, they dropped it for the ensuing face off as play continued.
Now at this point, with the crowd cheering wildly, I'm screaming to Gary, "They didn't take the puck out of play!!!" and I'm following that puck intensely as it careened around the ice. Seconds later a King and an Islander came together at the blueline and the puck flipped high into the air and into the crowd, where it landed firmly in the hand of my friend Gary, who literally had the back of his hand make contact with my prodigious schnozolla, and we stared at it in amazement. "WE HAVE THE PUCK, WE HAVE THE PUCK" and as the first period came to an end, we ran down to the entrance to the ice where the zamboni would come out. We were so excited, and figured we'd maybe get a chance to go to the locker room, have our picture taken with Rogie and the historic puck, and since there were no computers, no e-bay, no Barry Bonds home run balls, we just thought we'd get some credit, and maybe some press. Before the second period began, we were told that all we had was a puck that would be credited as a Vic Venasky goal, as he was actually the last King to touch the puck... not Rogie. They did give us each a Kings "game" puck, in exchange for Vic's goal, and our chance for participating in hockey history was thwarted. But, thank GOD for Gary's "quick glove hand," or the almost historic puck would have been covered in blood, and my nose would have been a sight for Tim Hunter's eyes :)