TODAY IN FLYERS HISTORY: APRIL 29
1975: The defending champion Flyers open their Stanley Cup semifinal series against the New York Islanders with a 4-0 shutout victory at the Spectrum. Wayne Stephenson stops all 21 shots he faces, while Don Saleski, Bill Barber, Bobby Clarke (shorthanded) and Rick MacLeish provide the goal support. Things will get much tougher later in the series, but the Flyers will prevail in seven games.
1976: The Flyer tie the Stanley Cup semifinal against the Boston Bruins at one game apiece with a 2-1 overtime win at the Spectrum. Don Saleski scores his sixth goal of the playoffs in the opening period. The lead holds until John Bucyk ties it up with a third-period power play goal before Reggie Leach nabs his eighth goal of the playoffs at 13:38 of overtime. Wayne Stephenson stops 32 of 33 shots.
1989: After once trailing their Wales Conference semifinal series by a three games to two margin, the Flyers stun the favored Pittsburgh Penguins on the road to skate off with a 4-1 win in Game Seven. Brian Propp gets the Flyers on the board first. After Mario Lemieux ties the game for the Penguins, Flyers captain Dave Poulin soon responds with a shorthanded goal to restore a 2-1 advantage for the Flyers. Mike Bullard (power play) and Scott Mellanby (empty net goal) add insurance in the third period. Mark Howe collects a pair of assists. Playing in place of Ron Hextall, backup Ken Wreggett authors a 39-save performance. The Flyers go 7-for-8 on the penalty kill and 1-for-5 on the power play. Combined with Poulin's shorthanded goal, the Flyers win the special teams battle in the series' final game in addition to outscoring the Penguins at even strength.
2012: The Flyers take Game One of the Eastern Conference semifinal with a comeback 4-3 overtime against the New Jersey Devils. After having a would-be OT goal by Danny Briere disallowed, Briere scores again -- this team officially -- to add to his earlier regulation goal. James van Riemdsyk and Claude Giroux also score in regulation. Ilya Bryzalov stops 23 of 26 shots.
2014: Continuing a series-long pattern of alternating game wins, the host Flyers defeat the New York Rangers by a 5-2 count (both Rangers goals come late in the game) to force a seventh and deciding game of the Eastern Conference quarterfinal the next night at Madison Square Garden. Wayne Simmonds racks up a hat trick on two power play goals and an even strength tally. Erik Gustafsson and Claude Giroux (empty-netter at 15:49 of the third period) round out the scoring. The Wells Fargo Center crowd erupts in chants of "Ma-son! Ma-son!" in honor of a brilliant 34-save goaltending performance by Steve Mason. The Rangers remove starter Henrik Lundqvist (19 saves on 22 shots) after the second period.
FLYERS ALUMNI BIRTHDAYS
Three Flyers Alumni players share April 29 birthdays: the late Jean Gauthier (1937-2013), Serge Bernier (1947), and Dave Fenyves (1960).
April 29, 2015 marks the four-year anniversary of the passing for former Maine Mariners and Philadelphia Flyers enforcer Jim Cunningham.
Cunningham, a minor league tough guy who became a fan favorite while a member of the AHL's Maine Mariners, played his lone NHL game for the Flyer on Feb. 28, 1978, when the Flyers visited the Boston Bruins. Looking to make an immediate impression, he made a beeline for Boston's Terry O'Reilly. The linesmen pulled them apart before a full-fledged fight developed, so the two were sent off on double roughing minors rather than fighting majors. Cunningham finished the game, which ended in a 4-4 tie, as a plus-one. He did not register a point.
On April 29, 2011, Cunningham died near his home in Shoreview, Minnesota, after being struck by an oncoming train. The 54-year-old was walking along the tracks, possibly trying to take a photograph. He had regularly taken walks on the same path since childhood, and did not feel endangered going along the tracks.
After playing hockey at Michigan State University, Cunningham spent four-plus years in the minor leagues, including parts of four seasons over two stints with Maine. As with many players who were once scoring-line players at hockey's lower levels (he collected 36 points in 34 games for Michigan State in 1976-77), Cunningham had to find a different niche at the pro level. In the AHL, he was mostly an agitator and secondary enforcer. His best season for the Mariners came in 1978-79, when he racked up 223 penalty minutes and 24 points (eight goals, 16 assists) in 78 games.
Cunningham's pro career came to an end in 1981, although he made a three-game return to pro hockey in 1983-84 for the IHL's Toledo Gold Diggers. He spent the remainder of his life in his native Minnesota.