Game 097 – Maple Leafs 2, Canadiens 1

Game 097
Maple Leafs 2, Canadiens 1
Saturday, January 3, 1931
Arena Gardens, Toronto, Ontario

Before the largest crowd that ever packed its way into the Arena Gardens, the Maple Leafs entered into a second place tie with the Canadiens on Saturday night by defeating the Flying Frenchmen in a dazzling NHL fixture by 2 to 1. It was Toronto’s third straight victory.

The exact attendance figures were not announced by the Arena management, but manager Andy Taylor and his staff declared it would reach over the nine thousand mark, and exceed the attendance record established four seasons ago, when the Canadiens inflicted that famous 9 to 1 beating on the Leafs. Long lines of fans seeking standing room tickets extended from the rush entrances of the building long before game time, and many hundreds were turned away when the supply of S.R.O. tickets was exhausted. It is estimated that fully fifteen thousand would have attended had there been room for that many. Many fans who failed to secure seats when the sale opened last Thursday came, hoping there might be some available from speculators or subscribers who had the odd pair or two over.

The game was worth all the interest shown in it. It was a battle royal from start to finish, fast and clean and thrilling. The Leafs earned the decision, but it was a great relief to the Toronto players and the home crowd to hear that final gong. The Canadiens had five forward line players on the ice in the closing minutes, in an effort to get the tying goal, and only some remarkable goaltending by Lorne Chabot thwarted them.

Harvey Jackson and “Ace” Bailey supplied the goals for the Leafs, while Sylvio Mantha scored the only tally for the visitors. Bailey’s goal decided the issue. It came in the second period, after the clever Mantha had beaten the Toronto defence on a solo rush, which was climaxed with a well aimed backhand shot. That tied the score, but Bailey made a beautiful play three minutes later to provide the margin of victory. There was no scoring in the final period.

The Leafs were hard pressed on many occasions to keep the meteoric Morenz and the jumpy Joliat off the score sheet. Chabot was forced to produce some sensational goaltending to keep the Habitants from netting the puck, particularly in the final period. On one occasion, while sprawled full length on the ice in the goalmouth, he stopped three quick shots in succession as the Canadiens scrambled around the cage in a frantic effort to break down the Leafs’ lead.

Had any one of the visiting marksmen been able to lift the puck through the tangle at the time, a certain score would have followed. Fortunately, the Leafs got the “breaks,” and none of the shots left the ice. The Leafs were forced to resort to that time honoured custom of hoisting the puck to the other end of the ice in order to relieve the congestion in their defensive area.

Both Toronto tallies were the result of clever plays. Jackson and “Hap” Day figured in the first goal, which came fourteen minutes after the start of play. Day had only a small part in it, however. Jackson took a pass from Day near centre ice, and carried the rubber over the Canadiens’ blue line. Day was set for a pass, but Jackson was confronted by the visiting defence players, and he elected to try a long shot. The drive was wide of the net, and Day missed the rebound, as did two Montréalers who went after the puck. Jackson came in fast, however, and from ten feet in front of Hainsworth, who also was making an effort to get the rubber, lifted the disc into the cage.

That goal served to keep the Leafs in front until seven minutes of the second period had been exhausted. The visitors provided the equalizer at a time when they were playing shorthanded, Larochelle being in the penalty box. Sylvio Mantha, who usually gets a goal or two here, sailed down left wing in an individual effort, and managed to circle the Toronto defence. His backhand drive just managed to enter the far corner of the goal. It was a beautiful shot.

Extending themselves to the limit in an effort to recover their lead, the Leafs were not long in regaining it. Bailey was the hero on this occasion. He carried the puck out from the corner at the Canadiens’ end, dodged four players who attempted to check him, and got a clear shot, which Hainsworth stopped. Blair and Cotton were near the net, and Cotton got the rebound, but again Hainsworth saved. Blair also slapped the puck at the Canadien goalkeeper, but it was intercepted. But Bailey was right in front, and he lifted the rubber back at the cage, and Hainsworth didn’t have a chance on that one.

From then on, it was a furious struggle. The Canadiens, intent on overcoming the lead and the Leafs, striving their utmost to hold it. Their four man attack nearly cost the Canadiens a goal on a couple of occasions when Toronto players broke away. Once Conacher was in on Hainsworth, but instead of stickhandling his way past the goalkeeper as he usually does, he tried to fool him with a hard shot. The shot was high and went over the net.

Some excitement was caused in the closing minutes of the second period, when the Leafs were two men short. Conacher received an enforced rest for charging from behind, and while he was off, Horner drew a penalty for what appeared to be a fair body check on “Battleship” Leduc. It was a serious situation for the Leafs. As Horner skated off the ice, the fans raised an uproar directed at referee Cleghorn, and some excited individual from one of the side boxes slid a chair out onto the ice and nearly upset Cleghorn, who backed into it as he was trying to faceoff the puck at the blue line. The police promptly seized the fan and ejected him from the rink. A few programs were thrown also, but no serious disturbance occurred afterward.

The Leafs managed to hold the Canadiens safely while they were shorthanded, Burke drawing a penalty a half minute later, which lessened the pressure to some extent.

The only clash among the players occurred in the second period, just after the Leafs had taken the lead again. Chabot fell in stopping a hard shot and before he could rise, Nick Wasnie tried to knock the puck from under him and score. It looked as if Wasnie had hit Chabot across the head with his stick. Charlie Conacher was close behind and he sailed into Wasnie, the two landing in the corner locked in each other’s arms. A melee threatened, but the two players were quickly separated and only minor penalties were given to them. In all, sixteen penalties were given, each team drawing eight. Charlie Conacher drew four of the Leafs’ misdemeanours.

The officials were strict in stopping play for transgressions across the blue lines, and no offsides escaped them. Before the start of the game, the teams gathered in centre ice while referee Cleghorn explained the revised rule in regard to stopping the puck with the hand, but the game did not produce a single instance of it.

Story originally published in The Globe, January 5, 1931

1st Period
TOR GOAL – 14:50 – Jackson (Day)
TOR PENS – Conacher, Day
MTL PEN – S. Mantha

2nd Period
MTL SH GOAL – 07:25 – S. Mantha

TOR GOAL – 11:00 – Bailey (Cotton, Blair)
TOR PENS – Conacher (2), Horner
MTL PENS – Burke (2), Larochelle, Wasnie

3rd Period
TOR PENS – Conacher, Horner, Jackson
MTL PENS – Leduc, S. Mantha, Morenz

TOR – Chabot (W, 36-37)
MTL – Hainsworth (L, 33-35)

TOR – 13+11+11 = 35
MTL – 10+15+12 = 37

TORGoaltenders: Lorne Chabot. Defence: King Clancy, Hap Day (C), Red Horner. Forwards: Ace Bailey, Andy Blair, Charlie Conacher, Baldy Cotton, Busher Jackson, Roger Jenkins, Joe Primeau.
MTLGoaltenders: George Hainsworth. Defence: Marty Burke, Albert Leduc, Georges Mantha, Sylvio Mantha (C). Forwards: Johnny Gagnon, Aurèle Joliat, Wildor Larochelle, Pit Lépine, Bert McCaffrey, Armand Mondou, Howie Morenz, Gus Rivers, Nick Wasnie.

TOR – 9-6-3 (.583)
MTL – 9-5-3 (.618)