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Top 100 Goalies: No. 59 — Pete Peeters

He went from hot to white-hot in a hurry, known for putting together epically long unbeaten streaks on multiple teams.

He has one of the greatest names in hockey history: the alliterative Pete Peeters. Whimsy aside, the Edmonton native was quite the stopper in the 1980s, winning a Vezina Trophy and helping the Boston Bruins to a division title and appearance in the 1983 conference final. His love of family, however, almost derailed his NHL career before it even started.

Peeters came up through the WHL, playing for the Medicine Hat Tigers and catching the eye of the Philadelphia Flyers, who drafted him in the eighth round in 1977. He began his pro career with the IHL’s Milwaukee Admirals and AHL’s Maine Mariners. During his second season, the Flyers beckoned him from the Mariners, but it was during the holidays and Peeters didn’t want to leave. “It was my first Christmas with my wife,” he said. “And we had invited our relatives. Deep down in my heart, I didn’t feel like I was ready to make the jump to the NHL. It’s incredible to look back and think how naive you can be.”

After some cajoling, he got on a plane and ended up playing five NHL games. The Flyers even flew his parents to town.

The next season, 1979-80, Peeters was up in the NHL for good, platooning with Phil Myre and helping the Flyers make it to the Cup final, where they fell to the dynastic New York Islanders. He didn’t lose a game until Feb. 19, putting up an incredible 22-0-5 record.

In the ensuing years, Rick St. Croix and Pelle Lindbergh vied for starts with Peeters, and eventually it became too much of a crowd. Peeters was flipped to Boston for defenseman Brad McCrimmon and had immediate success. His 40 wins, eight shutouts and 2.37 goals-against average all represented the best marks in the league, and the Vezina Trophy was Peeters’ reward, not to mention first-team all-star honors.

Incredibly, he was also runner-up for the Hart Trophy to Wayne Gretzky, earning 14 first-place votes during a campaign in which ‘The Great One’ flirted with 200 points. In that 1982-83 season, Peeters ran up another unbeaten streak, this time for 31 games. That made him the only goalie in NHL history to have two unbeaten streaks of at least 25 games, and he did it with different franchises. “I was never really thinking about it,” Peeters said. “Maybe a bit at the end, because Gerry Cheevers was my coach and he held the record (32 games), which was pretty fun.”

With the Vezina under his belt, Peeters took on the ultimate challenge when he was named to Team Canada for the 1984 Canada Cup. “That was the super-highlight of my career,” he said. “It’s the Canada Cup that never gets talked about, but I was so honored just to be invited. When I look at the team picture, I’m just astounded I was on the same team as those guys.”

But when Grant Fuhr got hurt, Canada needed Peeters to step in and despite a sprained knee, he was fit enough for the semifinal showdown with the Soviet Union, a classic affair that ended with Canada winning 3-2 in overtime. In the final, Peeters won both games over Sweden in a best-of-three to clinch the title.

But Peeters was never quite the same after that Canada Cup. He couldn’t get back into the groove, and after another season in Boston, he was traded to the Washington Capitals. He ended his career back in Philadelphia and retired after 1990-91.

From there, Peeters remained in the game as an NHL goalie coach, ending with the Anaheim Ducks in 2013. He now lives on a farm in Sturgeon County, Alta., just north of Edmonton, with his wife, raising alpacas and cows.

Born: Aug. 17, 1957, Edmonton, Alta.
NHL Career: 1978-91
Teams: Phi, Bos, Wsh
Stats: 246-156-51, 3.09 GAA, .886 SP, 21 SO
All-Star: 1 (First-1)
Trophies: 1 (Vezina-1)

DID YOU KNOW?

Jacques Plante was Peeters’ first goalie coach with the Flyers. “He was a superstar, and he knew how he did it,” Peeters said. “And he could teach, that’s what made him so special.” Plante taught Peeters his angles and footwork, while Bruins coach Gerry Cheevers later helped Peeters with the mental game. In Washington, goalie guru Warren Strelow finished the job by putting the final pieces together for Peeters.

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