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This Day in Buffalo Sports History: An All-Star thriller

      January 24, 1978 -- This may be remembered as the last time that Buffalo ever hosted the NHL All-Star Game.

      For sure it was the first. It was a very good game, too, as these things go. The Wales Conference beat the Campbell Conference, 3-2 in overtime. Back in those days, All-Star Games actually featured some defense, hitting and checking.

      Buffalo's representatives to the game, Gil Perreault and Rick Martin, played well. In fact, Martin tied the game with a goal late in the third period. Then Perreault won it for the Wales at the 3:55 mark of overtime.

      Billy Smith of the Islanders won the Most Valuable Player award for the game, which drew boos from the sellout crowd in Memorial Auditorium. The game set an NHL record for fewest shots in a game - 52, with 40 of them from the Wales Conference.

      Sadly, all-star games have turned into virtual trade shows for the industry, and Buffalo isn't considered big enough (in terms of hotels and convention space) at the moment to host such a game. That's why Buffalo has been awarded the NHL Entry Draft -- compensation, in a sense.

--- Budd Bailey

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