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Calgary Flames

Flames All-Time Countdown Chapter CVII: 60-59

As we continue the countdown, we look at two former Flames from the defensive end: goalie Pat Riggin and d-man Ken Houston.



60. Pat Riggin

Riggin, a 5’9″, 170 lb. goaltender from Kincardine, Ontario, was born on May 26th, 1959. He played three seasons of junior hockey for the London Knights and a season for the WHA’s Birmingham Bulls before he was drafted by the Atlanta Flames in the second round, 33rd overall, in the 1979 NHL Entry Draft. Riggin returned to Birmingham for 12 games the following season, but then quickly joined Atlanta.

The 1979-80 season was Riggin’s first of NHL hockey. He played 25 games for the Atlanta Flames, posting a 3.20 goals against average. He had an 11-9-2 record, helping the Flames to an overall 35-32-13 season. The Atlanta Flames lost in the first round of the playoffs, 3-1, to the New York Rangers, but Riggin did not play any post-season games.

In 1980, the Flames relocated to Calgary, an Riggin with them. He played 42 games in the 1980-81 season, posting a 3.83 goals against average, scoring an assist, and recording seven penalty minutes. His overall record was 21-16-4, a part of the Flames’ overall 39-27-14 record. The Flames made it to the third round of the playoffs that season, playing 16 games before falling 4-2 to the Minnesota North Stars. Riggin played in 11 of these games, posting a 3.53 goals against average and a 6-4 record.

The 1981-82 season was Riggin’s final with the Flames. He played 52 games, posting a 4.23 goals against average. He stopped 1398 of 1605 shots for a .871 save percentage, and he scored five assists and recorded four penalty minutes. Riggin’s overall record was 19-19-11. The Flames finished 29-34-17 that season, making the playoffs, but losing 3-0 to the Vancouver Canucks in the first round of the playoffs. Riggin played all three games, posting 10 goals against, and a 3.09 goals against average.

Soon after exiting the playoffs, the Flames traded Riggin and Ken Houston to the Washington Capitals for Howard Walker, George White, and three picks. Riggin played for the Capitals, Boston Bruins, and Pittsburgh Penguins over the next seven seasons, as well as having a few games in the AHL and IHL. He won the Jennings Trophy in the 1983-84 season with the Capitals. After splitting time between the Penguins and IHL’s Muskegon Lumberjacks in the 1987-88 season, he retired.

All-Time Statline: 119 games, 51-44-17, four shutouts, 3.88 goals against average, 17.28 point shares.

59. Ken Houston

Houston, born on September 15th, 1953 in Dresden, Ontario, was a 6’2″, 200 lb. defenceman. Drafted in the sixth round, 85th overall in the 1973 NHL draft by the Atlanta Flames, he went on to play two seasons for the CHL’s Omaha Knights. (Fun fact: he was also drafted in the fifth round, 58th overall by the Alberta Oilers in the 1973 WHA Draft. He’d n up in Alberta a few years down the line.)

In the 1975-76 season, Houston split time between the AHL’s Nova Scotia Voyageurs and NHL’s Flames. He scored five goals in 49 shots over 38 games for the Flames in his debut, as well as six assists, 11 penalty minutes, and a minus-3 rating. The Flames finished the season with a 35-33-12 record and made the playoffs, but fell in two games to the Los Angeles Kings. Houston played both games against the Kings, but was kept off the scoreboard.

Houston's first full season in the NHL came in 1976-77. Over 78 games he scored 20 goals on 151 shots, and 24 assists gave him 44 points in all. Thirty-five penalty minutes and a plus-5 rating rounded out his stat line as the Flames played their way to a 34-34-12 record. They once again faced the Kings in the playoffs, falling 2-1 in the first round. Houston appeared in all three playoff games, and this time found himself on the scoreboard with four penalty minutes in the series defeat.

In 1977-78, Houston played 74 games. His point totals went down but his goal scoring improved as he scored 22 goals on 147 shots, but only added 16 points for 38 points. Houston also recorded 51 penalty minutes and a plus-4 rating. The Flames finished the season with a 34-27-19 record, but once again had a poor playoff performance, falling 2-0 to the Detroit Red Wings in the first round. Houston played both games, but was again held off the scoreboard.

Houston’s numbers jumped way up in the 1978-79 season. He had one of the best offensive seasons of his career, with a total of 52 points (21 goals on 140 shots, and 31 assists) over a career-high 80 games. He also finished a plus-4, but what really stood out was his career-high 135 penalty minutes. Houston helped his team to a 41-31-8 record, but once again, the Atlanta Flames fell 2-0 in the first round of the playoffs, this time to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Houston appeared in just one of the games, but recorded 16 penalty minutes while he was there.

Houston repeated his 80 game performance in 1979-80, and had the best offensive season of his career. Twenty-three goals on 155 shots plus 31 assists gave him a career-high 54 points, and he again broke the triple digit barrier with 100 penalty minutes. He did, however, finish a minus-1. The Flames finished with a 35-32-13 record, but yet again, they lost in the first round of the playoffs, this time falling 3-1 to the New York Rangers. Houston played all four playoff games, finally scoring his first playoff goal, as well as an assist, and registering 10 penalty minutes.

The Atlanta Flames moved to Calgary for the 1980-81 season, and Houston moved with them. He played just 42 games that season, scoring 15 goals over 78 shots. He added 15 assists for 30 points, as well as registering a still-impressive 93 penalty minutes, and finishing even. Calgary opened up with a 39-27-14 record and made it to the third round of the playoffs before falling to the Minnesota North Stars. Houston appeared in all 16 playoff games, scoring seven goals and 15 points over the run, as well as 28 penalty minutes.

The 1981-82 season was Houston's last as a member of the Flames. He rebounded to 70 games that season, and maintained his 50:50 goals:assists ratio with 22 and 22. This season, he had 165 shots, a career high. He also recorded 91 penalty minutes, and fell to a minus-2 rating. The Flames finished with a 29-34-17 record and were swept in the first round of the playoffs by the Vancouver Canucks in three games. Houston played all three games, scoring one goal and recording four penalty minutes.

Following the playoff exit, Houston, along with Brian Engblom, was traded to the Washington Capitals for Larry Murphy. Houston played just another two seasons in the NHL, splitting time between the Capitals and the Kings before retiring at the end of the 1983-84 season.

All-Time Statline: 462 games, 128 goals, 145 assists, plus-7 rating, 516 penalty minutes, 17.30 point shares.

by Kevin Kraczkowski