Former Maple Leaf Ian Turnbull
scored five goals in a game on
Feb. 2, 1977, a record by an NHL
Randy Schultz | NHL.com correspondent
Feb 2, 2007, 9:27 AM EST
Ian Turnbull holds the record for most goals scored by a defenseman in a game with five.
Bobby Orr never scored five goals in a game. Neither did Denis Potvin, Larry Robinson, Paul Coffey or any of hockey’s other great scoring defensemen.
But Turnbull did. And he will forever be associated with that piece of hockey lore. On the night of Feb. 2, 1977 Turnbull, playing on the blue line for the Toronto Maple Leafs, scored five goals against the Detroit Red Wings. It was a night he will never forget.
"I remember going home that evening and thinking, 'What have I done?'" recalled Turnbull, who played 10 seasons in the NHL (1973-83) with the Maple Leafs, Los Angeles Kings and Pittsburgh Penguins. "After I had a chance to think about what I had done I had mixed emotions. I was excited about it. Nobody had ever accomplished something like that before. However, I also felt that doing something like scoring five goals in a game could be the kiss of death. Remember, any time you rise to a certain level of play, you now have raised the bar.
"But the reality is, that type of performance is not the normal thing to do. But I’ve had to live with it now for all of these years. And I’ve certainly gotten used to it.”
Turnbull admits that time has a way of making the memory of those goals seem much greater than they really were.
"I had never seen a tape of the game or the goals for that matter in almost 20 years," Turnbull said. "I finally saw a tape of the goals a couple of years ago. As I watched the tape and saw the goals being scored, I was thinking to myself, ‘I don’t remember that goal going in like that.’ It just seemed so much better when I scored the goals during the game itself.
"In reality, one goal bounced off a defenseman after I shot the puck. A couple of them went through everybody and didn’t hit a thing and went into the net. And on one goal, I had actually rushed the net, was standing there and the puck hit the goalie, bounced off my pants, and went into the net. It was a goal.
"But they were not quite the way I remembered them,” he concluded with a smile on his face.
Turnbull almost accomplished the same feat again four years later as a member of the Kings. It was Dec. 12, 1981 and the Kings were playing the Vancouver Canucks. It turned out to be a humbling experience for the veteran defenseman.
"I had just scored my fourth goal of the game,” remembered Turnbull. “A teammate, Mark Hardy, sat down next to me on the bench. He says something like, ‘Ian, wasn’t that your fourth goal?’ I said yeah. And he says that must be some kind of a record. And I said that no it wasn’t a record. He says back to me, ‘It’s not a record?’ I said simply, ‘no.’
“Of course then he asked me what the record was. I said five. He looks at me and says, ‘Five? Some guy got five goals in a game?’ I just calmly looked at him and replied, ‘Yes.’ A few more moments went by and he finally looks at me and asked who scored the five goals. I simply looked at him and answered, ‘I did.’ He couldn’t believe it. We just laughed about it. But it just showed me that not everybody in the hockey world knew that I had once scored five goals in a game.”
After retiring from the game, Turnbull went into the real estate business. Later he got into the mortgage banking business. Today, at 52, Turnbull is a business consultant residing in Redondo Beach, CA.