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Nov. 4, 1970 (Rangers at California Golden Seals)
FINAL GAME WITH RANGERS
April 3, 1977 (Rangers vs. New York Islanders)
RANGERS TEAM LEADER
Most playoff points — 1974 (tie)
Most playoff goals — 1974 (tie)
RANGERS ORGANIZATION STATISTICS
Minor-league games: 0
Minor-league teams: None
Nicknames: Stemmer, The Polish Prince
Full name: Peter David Stemkowski
Uniform Numbers: 21
Retired from pro hockey: 1979
On April 29, 1971, Rangers center Pete Stemkowski scored one of the biggest goals in New York Rangers history.
Stemkowski`s tally in triple overtime of Game 6 of the Stanley Cup playoff semifinals at Madison Square Garden, forced a seventh game between the Rangers and Black Hawks — keeping the Blueshirts` hopes of a Stanley Cup Finals appearance alive.
Although the Rangers went on to lose Game 7, a then 27-year-old Stemkowski had forever ensured a special relationship with the New York fans, who would talk about his dramatic goal for many years to come. Neither Stemmer, as he was fondly called, or the Garden Faithful had to wait much longer for that trip to the Finals, since Stemkowski was again part of the team that went all the way to a showdown with Boston one year later in 1972.
Also known as "The Polish Prince," Stemkowski`s success in his first year as a Ranger set the tone for a fine seven-season run that included three straight 20-goal seasons from 1972-73 to 1974-75. He was particularly impressive in 1973-74, when he tied his career-high of 25 goals and also notched a career-high 70 points.
Born and raised in Winnipeg, Stemkowski began his NHL career in the Toronto Maple Leafs system and played his first game with the Leafs as a 20-year-old in 1963-64. He went on to spent another four years with the Leafs, shuttling up and down between Toronto and Rochester of the American Hockey League until he caught on as an NHL regular in 1966.
Traded to Detroit late in the 1967-68 season, Stemkowski had his first two 20-goal seasons with the Red Wings and was eventually dealt to the Rangers for defenseman Larry Brown. It would prove to be a great trade for the Rangers, because Stemkowski went on to play 551 regular-season and playoff games for the Blueshirts before leaving the team in 1977.
Following his playing career, Stemkowski worked for several seasons as the San Jose Sharks` TV color commentator. He is also a member of the National Polish-American Sports Hall of Fame in Hamtramck, Mich., which welcomed him as an inductee in 2002.
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