April 07, 1986 12:00 PM

While waiting to make a pickup at a Pontiac dealership in Winnipeg, Canada, Joan Palmer, a $12,000-a-year Pink Lady Courier, filled out an application for a hockey-puck shooting contest that weekend. Then she made her pickup and took off.

Five days later Palmer made a bigger pickup. The 48-year-old grandmother of four stepped onto the ice during intermission of the Winnipeg Jets-Detroit Red Wings hockey game and fired a three-inch puck into a 3¼-inch opening 120 feet away. “I just remember that my husband came running over yelling, ‘You did it, you did it,’ and then I realized it had gone in and everyone cheered.” Her prize: $58,000.

Palmer, whose husband describes her as “an overweight grandma,” was selected for the contest in a random drawing. “I thought, ‘Oh, I’ll get someone else to do this for me,’ ” she remembers. “But my husband said I should do it myself, so I tried it.” With Bill, “a super hockey fan,” at her side, she practiced at first on the tile floor of her kitchen. How far was she shooting? “Bill, how far from the micro to the cupboard? About 10 feet?”

Later, she graduated to the community rink, where she aimed for a space between Bill’s feet. “Out of every hundred shots, one or two went in,” Palmer says, adding, “The ice was bumpy.”

When she arrived at the Winnipeg Arena, wearing a pink sweater (“Because of my job, I have mostly pink clothes”) she barely had the $2.50 for parking. Palmer, who was given just one shot at the goal, became the only successful contestant so far this year. Joked a sportswriter after the Jets trounced the Red Wings 6-0, “Detroit should offer her a contract.”

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