Playoff Game 03 – Canadiens 3, St. Pats 2

Playoff Game 03
Canadiens 3, St. Pats 2
NHL Championship, Game 1
Wednesday, March 11, 1925
Aréna Mont-Royal, Montréal, Québec

The St. Pats returned from Montréal this morning convinced that they can win out on the round from the Canadiens, despite the 3 to 2 reverse at the Mount Royal Arena last night.

The return game will be played at the Arena tomorrow night, and as total goals count on the round, the Irishmen have to win by two goals to clinch the honours and get in the playoff with Hamilton for the championship of the pro league.

Last night at Montréal, the St. Pats claimed to have scored two goals they didn’t get credit for. One was in a scramble around the Canadiens’ nets in the early part of the last period. The puck fell in front of Vézina, and McCaffrey batted it back. Vézina partially stopped it, but the St. Pats claimed it was four or five inches over the line before Vézina scooped it out. The goal was not allowed. The umpire was a neutral official from Ottawa.

The other score claimed by the St. Pats was near the end of the game. Dye drove a bullet like shot from the right wing, and apparently the puck struck the back of the net and bounced out. Play went right on, and the goal umpire did not put up his hand. Dye and the rest of the St. Pats players started to roar that the St. Pats had been done out of two goals. He showed Cooper Smeaton after the game how the play was made, but the tally was not considered.

Whether the St. Pats were right or wrong on the two goal claim, they certainly made a most creditable showing at Montréal. Except for a short time in the second period, they checked the Flying Frenchmen off their feet and made them look very ordinary in spots. Even the biased Mount Royal fans were willing to concede the superiority of the St. Pats on the night’s play, and that is some concession for those rabid rooters to make.

It was a most peculiar game from a spectator’s standpoint. The St. Pats supplied 50 percent of the action, while with the exception of Morenz, and occasionally Boucher, the Canadiens gave a sort of a slow motion picture of the game.

Sprague Cleghorn was particularly prominent in this respect, starting his “rushes” at a snail’s pace and hardly exceeding a walking gait. Morenz was the star of the Frenchmen, and the two goals he got were due to very alert work around the nets. Outside of Morenz and Vézina, the team looked weak compared to the St. Pats, and there was lacking the fire and dash of a championship contest.

The St. Pats played a very heady and dashing game, and had so much more of the play than their opponents that everybody marvelled that they finished on the short end of the score. Each team used one sub only, Neville by the St. Pats and Mantha by the Canadiens. Both made good, the former especially, his poke checking in centre ice was very effective.

The outstanding player for the St. Pats, and on the ice for that matter, was Albert McCaffrey, the former Olympic player. “Mac” carried the battle to the Canadiens from the first whistle, and engineered dozens of attacks on the Canadien goal. He worked his way through the Canadien defence time and again, and was always dangerous. He scored the first goal of the game, and thinks he got another which was not allowed. Defensively he played a great game, and altogether was a tower of strength to the St. Pats. Corbeau also played a powerful game on the defence, but had three penalties for tripping.

The St. Pats’ front line played with rare coolness and cleverness. Dye, Adams and Day broke up the Canadiens’ attack in mid-ice time and again, and kept the Canadien defence always in hot water. Dye was closely checked by Morenz, but managed to get in quite a number of his dead-on shots on Vézina. Adams never went better, and was very tricky in close to the defence, Day showed the Montréal fans a lot of speed and a great shot, and played one of his best games of the season. John Ross Roach played his usual cool game in the nets, but did not have as much to do as Vézina.

Whether by design or through sheer inability to get going, the Canadiens were woefully weak in the first period of the tussle at the Mount Royal Arena last night, and started the second session with the score 1 to 0 against them, and the outlook very blue for the 6,000 apprehensive Canadien supporters jammed into the Arena. McCaffrey scored the goal for the St. Pats.

But it was a different Canadien team which started to take command of the play in the second period, and with determined aggressive offensive, swept the St. Patricks back in front of their own goal and then, led by Sprague Cleghorn and Morenz, rushed in two goals to take the lead. Both came off the stick of Howie Morenz after spectacular rushes, the first and tying goal being the culmination of a Sprague Cleghorn-Odie Cleghorn-Morenz attack, while the second was earned by Morenz himself at a time when the St. Pats were short one player, the Canadien flash tricking his way through four defending Toronto players to work right in on Roach, and bat in the goal which gave the Canadiens the lead, and thereafter they were not headed, though the St. Pats made gallant efforts.

Through the third period, the St. Pats battled as the Canadiens brought the count up to 3 to 1, and the St. Pats immediately made it 3 to 2, a goal in which Billy Boucher assisted Adams in tallying, the Canadien wing directly aiding the St. Pats centre to score, as he swung his stick in a wide circle in an effort to clear the puck out of danger.

The St. Pats, in their efforts to draw even in the last period, gave the Canadien goal at least two close escapes, and in both instances there arose a dispute as to whether or not tallies had been made. The first one came early in the third period when McCaffrey carried the play through the Canadien defence and shot at Vézina from close in. Vézina blocked the puck partly, but could not clear, and there was a scramble in the Canadien net. The puck was finally located outside the Canadien goal line, but the St. Pats claimed it had been over and back again. The goal umpire said no, and the referees abided by the decision.

Just as the game was ending, Babe Dye whipped in a sizzling drive at Vézina. The puck went like a bullet, and was brought up short in on the corner of the rink behind the Canadien goal. Dye claimed the puck had hit in the top corner of the net, just under the crossbar and by sheer speed had lifted over the top of the net and bounded to the corner. The goal umpire again said no, much to Dye’s disgust, the league sharpshooter banging the ice with his stick and indicating to referee Cooper Smeaton that he did not mind losing, but he hated to be robbed of two goals.

After the game, Dye took Smeaton over to the net and showed him where he claimed the puck had traveled, but Smeaton pointed out that he had followed the play and seen it differently, and that in any case, a puck hitting below the crossbar would be forced down, not up. The St. Pats supporters joined in the argument, which was maintained until the Toronto players finally left the rink, mumbling over the ill fate which had dogged them, and promising that “anyway, it really doesn’t matter; we will get five of them on Friday.”

Story originally published in The Toronto Daily Star, March 12, 1925

1st Period
TOR GOAL – 14:10 – McCaffrey
TOR PEN – Adams

2nd Period
MTL GOAL – 06:00 – Morenz (O. Cleghorn)
MTL PP GOAL – 19:00 – Morenz (Mantha)
MTL PEN – Boucher
TOR PENS – Corbeau (2)

3rd Period
MTL GOAL – 04:00 – Boucher (S. Cleghorn)
TOR GOAL – 04:30 – Adams

MTL PENS – Coutu, Morenz
TOR PEN – Corbeau

MTL – Vézina (W)
TOR – Roach (L)

MTLGoaltenders: Georges Vézina. Defence: Sprague Cleghorn (C), Billy Coutu, Fern Headley, Sylvio Mantha, Dave Ritchie. Forwards: Billy Boucher, Odie Cleghorn, Johnny Matz, Howie Morenz.
TORGoaltenders: John Ross Roach (C). Defence: Bert Corbeau, Hap Day, Albert Holway. Forwards: Jack Adams, Babe Dye, Bert McCaffrey, Mike Neville, Reg Reid, Rod Smylie.