Friday, November 28, 2014

The Eruption of Petri Skriko

Going into play on November 18, 1986 Vancouver Canuck, Petri Skriko had produced 5 goals and 8 assists in playing all of his team's 18 games. This is about as average as one could get in the mid-1980's NHL when players scoring at a point per game pace was commonplace. Then came the Eruption of Petri Skriko. What sounds like an Icelandic volcano was in fact one of the greatest goal scoring bursts in NHL history.

On Nov. 19, Vancouver won at home against Calgary by a score of 5-0. Skriko had a natural hat-trick before the second period had ended, the last two were shorthanded goals. November 21 saw the Canucks lose at home to the Rangers 8-5, but Skriko one-upped himself. Instead of a natural hat-trick to open the scoring, he went one better. Before the second period was two minutes old, Petri Skriko had pumped four goals past John Vanbiesbrouck, the last of these was also shorthanded. He added his fifth goal at the halfway point of the game to give Vancouver a 5-2 lead. Alas, the Rangers poured the next six goals past Wendel Young and Richard Brodeur for the win.

The following day they traveled to Edmonton only to lose 5-2, with Skriko being shutout. Next came a back-to-back with Los Angeles. The Canucks won at home by 11-5 with Skriko counting another pair of goals and two helpers. In Los Angeles on November 26, Skriko continued his rampage with his THIRD hat-trick in eight days including yet another shorthanded marker.

By this point, Skriko had collected 17 goals and 10 assists for 27 points in 23 games and was now 5th in the NHL in goals. Over his previous five games he had accumulated a ridiculous 12 goals and 14 points. Yes, 12 goals in 5 games is pretty darn good, Wayne Gretzky himself only managed to have a stretch that good once in his career. Gretz scored 15 (FIFTEEN) goals in a five game period culminating with his 5 goal effort on Dec. 30, 1981 against the Flyers to reach 50 goals in 39 games.

Soon after this eruption, much like an Icelandic volcano, Petri Skriko went dormant. Over their next six games Vancouver went 1-6 and Skriko was held scoreless with 3 assists. Amazingly, if not unsurprisingly, Skriko would not score a goal until he potted an empty-netter on Dec. 23,  12 games after his amazing run. After reaching 17 goals through 23 games played at the end of November, Skriko wouldn't score his 20th until Jan. 16 versus Calgary in his 45th game.

Petri Skriko would finally awaken again on March 6 against Montreal with yet another hat-trick, to bring his season goal total to 24. I believe he missed 4 games prior to this at some point in February, so before this game he had counted a measly 4 goals over his last 41 games. He was shutout the next game after the latest hat-trick but scored a pair of goals in each of the next three games for another 9 goal outburst over a 5 game stretch. Three goals in his final 8 games brought the season total to 33 in 76 games, 21 of which were scored over two five game segments. In 1986/87 Petri Skriko was the very essence of hot and cold.

Skriko scored 30 goals each of the next two seasons. He would return to play in Finland in 1992/93 before finishing his career with six seasons in Denmark before retiring at age 36.

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