Playoff Game 04 – Canadiens 2, St. Pats 0

Playoff Game 04
Canadiens 2, St. Pats 0
NHL Championship, Game 2
Friday, March 13, 1925
Arena Gardens, Toronto, Ontario

In the most disappointing game of the professional season, the clever Canadiens of Montréal toyed with the St. Patricks here last night, defeated them by 2 to 0, and won the round and the right to play in the finals, if there are any, by 5 to 2.

The Frenchmen, the greatest money team in history, gave a defensive exhibition that could not be excelled or beaten. Their tactics threw the Irish off their stride, and from first to last the locals were outmanoeuvred, and made to look decidedly weak and foolish.

The game lacked a lot as far as a spectacle was concerned. The tight defensive system adhered to by the visitors had a lot to do with this. The St. Patricks were helpless most of the way, but at times the puck was flying around dangerously close to the Canadien net, and Georges Vézina had to play one of the best games of his career to prevent the locals from scoring.

The Canadiens played with a world of confidence. They made few mistakes, and they killed time by introducing brilliant stickhandling, and an immense amount of timely circling that was highly effective. Sprague Cleghorn was the man behind the Canadien attack and defence. He gave his instructions coolly, and never in his career did he look better on Toronto ice. Cleghorn scored one goal and assisted in the other.

It was a tame, listless affair, and the fans had little chance to become enthused. The lighting in the arena was not as good as usual owing to the storm, and as a result the game did not start at the scheduled time. For a while it was feared that it would be postponed, and manager Léo Dandurand of the Canadiens was busy explaining that this would inconvenience the champions greatly, but just when the officials were about to abandon hope, the lights grew brighter.

Then there was another delay. Fans headed for the game were held up when the streetcars were stalled. Then when they did arrive, they saw but the shadow of the team that won every game in February, and promised to go on to the Canadian championship.

Even the elements seemed to be weeping for the Irish. Such a dismal night and such a dismal performance have seldom gone hand in hand. The locals went down without an excuse. The better team undoubtedly won the series. Reports from Montréal on Thursday were to the effect that the Irish had outplayed the Canadiens in the first game. After watching the teams perform last night, Toronto fans will be slow to believe that the St. Patricks could outplay the team led by the astute Léo Dandurand.

Georges Vézina has announced that he will retire at the end of the present season. He has retired often in the past, but the Canadien owners think that he means it this time. If he does, it will be years before his equal is produced. No goalkeeper was ever better than Vézina was here last night.

It was only to be expected that the St. Patricks would get numerous chances to score – the visitors invited this by allowing the locals to carry the play to them – but when the other players failed, Vézina barred the way. The St. Pats beat the defence half a dozen times, but they could never outguess the cool net guardian, who reached out with his long stick to poke the puck away. Incidentally, Vézina uses the longest goal stick ever made. He splices a piece on the handle to meet with his requirements. He seemed to be reaching to the 20-foot line most of the time.

“Billy” Coutu was injured early in the game when Bert McCaffrey accidentally hit him on the bridge of the nose. Blood flowed freely, and Coutu gave way to Art Mantha, who proceeded to show rare checking ability. In the second and third periods, however, Coutu was back in his position, and the accident did not seem to affect him to any extent.

There were a few odd trips and sly pokes, but on the whole, the game was an easy one to handle. The players were so busy trying to win that it was seldom that they lost control of themselves. There were some flareups, however, the worst one being a quick battle of butt ends between Adams and Joliat early in the game. They each received major penalties, and in a hurry, Sprague Cleghorn and Bert Corbeau were sent to keep them company. It was four man hockey then, but the play was not thrilling enough to convince the fans that Frank Patrick’s plan to reduce the teams to five aside should be adopted. The six man style is good enough.

Sprague Cleghorn got the first goal ten minutes after the game began when, accompanied by Morenz and Joliat, he cleverly faked a pass, split the defence wide open, and went in to beat Roach from close range. Several times during the game, Cleghorn almost performed this same feat, but Roach was in the way.

The teams fought without any more scoring until only twenty five seconds remained to be played. The St. Patricks were nearly all on the attack when Cleghorn broke away with Morenz on his left. Holway was the only local player on the defence, and Cleghorn fooled him nicely by passing the puck and then interfering with Holway. Morenz drew Roach out of the net and tallied.

Aurèle Joliat was at left wing after three weeks’ absence, and although he has not fully recovered from his injuries, he did good work, and greatly strengthened the champions. Joliat flashed some great hockey at times, and his defensive play was always good.

Billy Boucher went the route at right wing and played the game of his life. He had “Happy” Day “bottled up,” and he showed a burst of speed that few believed him capable of. Boucher tested Roach with some of the most accurate long distance drives imaginable, and was unlucky not to score.

Morenz was the best man on either team. He had no trouble outskating every other man on the ice, and although he was subjected to heavy gruelling, he stood manfully to his task, and was going as strong as ever in the last ten minutes. Morenz is one of the great players of his day. He is a sixty minute man, fearless and clever.

Odie Cleghorn and Mantha were the only substitutes used by the winners. Both did good work, but manager Dandurand stuck pretty closely to his policy of playing the regulars, and the relief men were not in action very long.

Bert McCaffrey was the most aggressive, and the best of the locals. He tricked the Canadien forwards and defencemen repeatedly. He swerved sharply from side to side to evade the checkers, and was remarkably successful. McCaffrey mixed it merrily with the Frenchmen, and was in several near battles. Just before the game ended, he received his third penalty.

Dye had a few chances to score, but Vézina picked off his terrific drives with neatness and despatch. On the whole, Dye did not live up to expectations. He was closely checked throughout, and the Canadiens realized that he was the man to watch. Day tried hard, but could get nowhere. The hard race took a lot out of the star left winger, but he won in spurs in his fist year in pro ranks. Mike Neville and Reg Reid were used for short intervals, and the former did not weaken the team any.

The defencemen checked well, and McCaffrey did a lot of rushing. Corbeau also took a hand in the attacking, his bounding shot almost evading Vézina on two occasions in the last five minutes. “Toots” Holway teamed with Corbeau, and McCaffrey moved up to centre.

There were 11 penalties, and the locals got 6 of them. The banished players were as follows: St. Patricks – McCaffrey (3), Corbeau (2), Adams; Canadiens – Joliat, Coutu, S. Cleghorn, Boucher and Morenz.

In the first ten minutes, the Canadiens appeared to be weak on the defensive, and Vézina was called on to make some brilliant saves. Then Coutu was injured, and Mantha gave the Frenchmen the punch they lacked, and they steadied away to play safe and sound hockey after Cleghorn had given them a two goal advantage on the round.

The champions clearly indicated that they would take no chances when they opened the second period by lying back on the defensive. Morenz, who had made many thrilling attacks in the first 20 minutes, loafed around centre after checking, and his teammates were content to lift long shots to the other end of the rink. The fans booed in derision, but the wise Canadiens laughed, and kept on playing according to instructions.

Finally Joliat saw a chance and darted through, only to be bowled over when he was fouled by Corbeau. The officials missed it, but Joliat was in anything but good humour after that, and manager Dandurand gave him orders not to retaliate. A few minutes later, Dye beat everybody but Vézina, and the fans groaned. Dye blazed away at the Frenchman’s pads when only a few feet from the net.

Then came the closest call of all. Dye whipped a fast one at Vézina from close range, and Day raced in to secure possession after Vézina lost his balance, and the puck rebounded. Quick as a flash, Joliat backed in front of the net, and stopped Day’s low shot with his stick. Joliat immediately lifted the puck to the other end of the rink.

The St. Patricks had other good opportunities to tally, but it was their night off, and they could do little right. There was hardly a murmur as the vast crowd left the Arena. The fans, who had supported the Irish through thick and thin, went away wondering what had happened to the locals, and at the same time the men who pay gave credit to the champions.

Story originally published in The Globe, March 14, 1925

1st Period
MTL GOAL – 09:15 – S. Cleghorn
MTL PENS – Joliat (major), S. Cleghorn
TOR PENS – Adams (major), Corbeau

2nd Period
MTL PENS – Boucher, Morenz
TOR PENS – Corbeau, McCaffrey

3rd Period
MTL GOAL – 19:35 – Morenz (S. Cleghorn)
TOR PEN – McCaffrey

MTL – Vézina (W + SO)
TOR – Roach (L)

MTLGoaltenders: Georges Vézina. Defence: Sprague Cleghorn (C), Billy Coutu, Sylvio Mantha. Forwards: Billy Boucher, Odie Cleghorn, Aurèle Joliat, 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.