Game 073 – Canadiens 2, St. Pats 0

Game 073
Canadiens 2, St. Pats 0
Saturday, December 18, 1926
Arena Gardens, Toronto, Ontario

There must be something about Saturday night hockey games that the Toronto St. Pats, the local NHL representatives, haven’t been well coached on. Probably the boys are too tired after a heavy afternoon’s shopping laying in the Sunday groceries. Maybe there’s a banshee howling under their window.

Whichever it is, the St. Pats are suffering from some sort of a Saturday night complex. So far this season, they have been defeated in all their weekend fixtures, and have compiled a total of only two goals against their opponents’ ten.

It was Les Canadiens’s turn to profit by this peculiar condition of affairs on Saturday night at the Arena, the Frenchmen blanking the locals by the score of 2 to 0. If hard work had counted for anything, the Irish would have gained the verdict. The local players fought as hard as they knew how, but their labours were in vain.

Les Canadiens hustled too, but not with the same vim and vigour that the locals displayed. The Frenchmen seemed content to let their opponents force the play. Occasionally, they did dig in and add a little to the speed of the contest, but for the major portion of the time, they satisfied themselves by merely obstructing as much as possible the frantic efforts of the local forward line, and depending upon the capable George Hainsworth to handle any pucks that came his way.

Mr. Hainsworth must have done his Christmas shopping early. Only a person with the burden of this worry off his mind could have played with the unperturbability that this former resident of Kitchener displayed on Saturday night. Time was when George was not so carefree. He used to hop up and down in the Kitchener nets in his OHA apprenticeship days like an automated jumping jack, a baseball glove on one hand and an abbreviated goaler’s stick in the other. He was just as good a goaltender then as he is today, but now the years have clothed him with dignity and reserve, and he is calm and cool and deliberate in his manner. Nothing that the St. Pats uncorked in their demoniac drives upon his citadel excited him. He exuded a zero temperature, and the contagion of his demeanour found its way into the Toronto score.

There are some who saw the game who will maintain that Mr. Hainsworth was lucky. On at least two occasions, the persistent efforts of the Toronto players should have been rewarded with goals.

Early in the third period, the flying rubber caught Mr. Hainsworth a trifle off guard and hit the goal post just behind him, to fall at his feet outside the goal line. In the scramble, he managed to shove the puck beyond the danger point. On still another occasion in the third period, Danny Cox and Dr.  Carson eluded the Canadien defence and carried the disc right on to Mr. Hainsworth’s place of abode, but a terrific shot skidded off his pads into the far corner of the rink.

A goalkeeper may be lucky at such times, but then again a person of the former Kitchener boy’s coolness deserves some of the credit for stops like these. There were other moments of considerable danger for the visitors’ goal, but none so glaring as the two mentioned above. The hustling forward line of the Irish seemed to find the husky bulwark provided by Messrs. Gardiner and Leduc, and sometimes Mr. Mantha, in front of Mr. Hainsworth, an obstacle around which they could not carry the rubber with any satisfactory aim on the nets, and shooting from the blue line and outside the defence was about as useful as lofting the puck into the gallery.

The Flying Frenchmen gained their first goal on a tactical blunder. It is never good tactics to allow Mr. Joliat, the shifty left wing player of Les Canadiens, to carry the puck from the faceoff and permit him to sift through the defence and get a close in shot on Mr. Roach. But this is a blunder the Irish were guilty of as play started in the second period, and the result put a decided damper on the gaiety of the local supporters, for it resulted in the first goal of the game, and gave the visitors an advantage that the St. Pats never succeeded in overcoming.

It did not look so big at that time, but the Frenchmen seemed to think it sufficient, and it was not until a minute before full time in the third period that they added to it. On this occasion, Mr. Gagné was the offending party. He was part of  determined assault on the Toronto nets, in which Mr. Hart and Mr. Morenz were assistants, and when this trio broke through the defence, Gagné gave Roach no chance on his close-in drive. This goal was not really necessary, as far as the ultimate result was concerned, but then it safeguarded any last minute effort of the locals to send the game into overtime.

Les Canadiens paraded all of their regulars, and they had a bench full of substitutes. In this they had an advantage over the locals, for manager Charles Querrie was a couple of players short when play started. Corbert Denneny was on the hospital list with some strained ligaments in his back, and Bert Corbeau had a touch of flu that had him flat in bed for a couple of days previous. Both players attended the game, but were not in uniform. Denneny would have been useful had he been able to play. His canny work around the nets was sorely needed.

Irvine Bailey, Bill Carson, “Happy” Day and Danny Cox shouldered most of the forward line play for the locals, and the only fault to be found with them is that they did not score any goals. They tried hard enough and were persistent enough, and they took lots of spills and checks in their efforts, but the backchecking of the Canadien forward line and the tight defensive work of the whole Canadien team was too good. Bert McCaffrey and Bill Brydge, on the local defence, occasionally relieved by Bourgault, also tried hard. All three rushed whenever the opportunity was afforded them, but their efforts only resulted in expending their energy.

Howie Morenz showed only flashes of the speed for which he is noted. The Stratford youth is learning to restrain himself to a certain extent, and he did not play the usual dashing game of which he is capable. He spilled a couple of the local forwards in the first period, and after that the crowd took a delight in seeing Bailey and Carson turn the tables on him. And they did. Morenz took two or three legitimate spills afterward that must have jarred him considerably.

The game was comparatively clean. There were a few penalties, but all for minor offences. Bailey and Joliat had a little run in once, and both were sent off for glaring belligerently at each other. McCaffrey and Boucher also exchanged a couple of mean looks, and were given a rest to cool off. Leduc, the husky Canadien defenceman, took a headlong dive into the boards behind the goal in the third period, and was helped off. He came back again shortly after none the worst for the crash. He was one of the most aggressive players on the Canadien team, and his rushes were hard to head off. Joliat, Gagné, Hart and Boucher were all effective on the forward line. Pit Lépine was used as a substitute, Morenz starting at centre.

Story originally published in The Globe, December 20, 1926

1st Period
MTL PEN – Gagné
TOR PENS – McCaffrey, Cox

2nd Period
MTL GOAL – 00:15 – Joliat

MTL PENS – Gagné, Gardiner, Hart, Joliat
TOR PENS – Bailey (2), Brydge

3rd Period
MTL GOAL – 19:45 – Gagné (Joliat)
MTL PEN – Boucher
TOR PEN – McCaffrey

MTL – Hainsworth (W + SO)
TOR – Roach (L)

MTLGoaltenders: George Hainsworth. Defence: Herb Gardiner, Albert Leduc, Sylvio Mantha (C), Amby Moran. Forwards: Billy Boucher, Art Gagné, Gizzy Hart, Aurèle Joliat, Wildor Larochelle, Pit Lépine, Howie Morenz.
TORGoaltenders: John Ross Roach. Defence: Léo Bourgault, Bill Brydge, Hap Day. Forwards: Ace Bailey, Pete Bellefeuille, Bill Carson, Danny Cox, Corb Denneny, Bert McCaffrey.

MTL – 5-6-1 (.458)
TOR – 2-7-1 (.250)