Game 139 – Maple Leafs 2, Canadiens 1

Game 139
Maple Leafs 2, Canadiens 1
Saturday, January 9, 1937
Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario

Sixty minutes of speed and action. That’s what some 13,000 thrilled fans witnessed at Maple Leaf Gardens on Saturday night, as Toronto’s aroused Leafs turned back the high Flying Frenchmen from Montréal 2 to 1.

It was a grand game of hockey, probably the best of the season here, and one of the finest ever seen at the Carlton-Church ice palace.

Living up to all advance notices, the Canadiens flashed worlds of speed, but they had nothing on the Leafs, a fighting aggregation, who simply refused to accept defeat.

Spotting the Frenchmen a one goal advantage (a fluke tally at that), Dick Irvin’s men came back with a battling spirit that could not be denied. They squared accounts early in the second period, and earned victory when “Busher” Jackson slammed a backhander past goaler Wilf Cude at 8:30 of the third frame.

It was the first victory in six starts for the Leafs, who last finished on the right side of the ledger when they vanquished the Bruins in Boston on December 22. Since that date, they had lost to the Bruins here, the Wings in Detroit, the Maroons at Montréal, tied the Maroons here, and lost to the Canadiens in Montréal.

While it was anybody’s game until Jackson scored in the final period, the Leafs might easily have skated off with a more decisive triumph. In the closing stages, Cecil Hart’s speedsters went wide open in search of the equalizer, and “KId” Cude rose to spectacular heights to avert additional Toronto tallies.

The Canadiens truly looked like the “Canadiens of old.” And it was necessary for the Leafs to flash their very best form to gain the nod. While fans left the rink singing the praises of the Leafs in victory, it was agreed on all sides that the Frenchmen certainly look a Stanley Cup threat.

Many arguments arose over the first goal of the game – which was officially credited to Georges Mantha, the Canuck left winger – although it was announced as scored by George Brown, the rookie forward.

Mantha made the rush and shot. The puck seemed to rebound out and was picked up by Brown, who then tested Broda. From our point of view, it seemed the latter drive had struck Mantha’s leg and deflected in past Broda. Others claim it glanced in off “Red” Horner’s leg, and still others opine that Broda juggled the puck and, in attempting to clear, pulled it in himself. But the fact remains the goal was given to Mantha, and no protest was lodged from the Toronto players or bench.

Bill Kendall, who played his best game to date in Leaf colours, made Toronto’s first goal possible with a pretty piece of manoeuvring. Trapping the puck in the Canadiens zone, the right winger outguessed a defender against the boards and relayed perfectly to Billy Thoms in front of the net.

Thoms made no mistake, as he slapped the puck quickly and cleanly past Mr. Cude. Thoms was another Leaf who shone brightly all evening, though nursing a hip injury that required a special pad. The centreman was flying, going both ways and earned a four star rating.

“Red” Horner, who was both cheered and jeered by the fans, started the play for the winning goal. The big defenceman blocked the Canadiens’ attempt to clear and, after some scrambling, managed to get a pass away to “Syl” Apps.

Apps, in turn, relayed to Harvey Jackson, who was rushing in fast, and the “Busher” unleashed a backhander through a maze of players for the goal. Cude had little chance, his view being obstructed.

With six and one half minutes to play, the Frenchmen trotted on five forwards, but the Toronto defence, which played sparkling hockey throughout, would not yield. On brekaways, Metz almost scored twice on passes from Billy Thoms, while Jackson had another glorious chance on an Apps pass, but the brilliant Cude was equal to the tasks.

The storm centre of the night was “Red” Horner who, in our opinion, turned in a great game. He drew three minors and a misconduct penalty in the second period, the ten minute rest being imposed for arguing with referee Babe Dye. Horner wrapped his stick around Brown’s neck, after the latter had been driving his elbow into the Toronto player’s ribs, but Dye turned a deaf ear to the pleas of both Horner and manager Smythe, who heatedly grabbed the official from the penalty bench.

There were many pleasing features in the Toronto victory – especially the work of the new attacking division of Thoms, Kendall and Metz.

Little fault could be found with the work of the Leaf defence, with Horner, Fowler, Hamilton and Day, all earning brackets on their performances. Day, we believe, played his best game of the year, though he allowed Mantha once to circle him and almost score. Georges’ shot, in the second period in this instance, hit the crossbar with Broda beaten.

The Leafs drew down six minors and Horner’s misconduct penalty, as compared to five two minute rests for the Canadiens. On four occasions, players were banished in pairs. Thoms served the two minute penalty for Horner when the latter had the extra ten tacked on.

The Canadiens’ combined attacks were pretty to watch. Morenz, Joliat and Gagnon were particularly effective – though the visitors displayed class all down the line. Mantha, Brown and Desilets also were conspicuous, while “Babe” Siebert was a standout on the defence.

An enthusiastic spectator was Mrs. Bushfield, a sister of “Howie” Morenz who resides in Stratford, and who has yet to see brother “Howie” in a winning performance on Toronto ice. In every trip here ever since Morenz has been playing pro hockey, Mrs. Bushfield has watched Morenz and his team go down to defeat.

The Drillon-Jackson-Apps line worked very well, while special mention also should be made of the improved playing of Frankie Finnigan. The right winger came very close to scoring on several occasions.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, January 11, 1937

1st Period
TOR PEN – 02:17 – Hamilton
MTL PEN – 02:17 – Joliat
MTL GOAL – 08:43 – Mantha

2nd Period
TOR GOAL – 05:26 – Thoms (Kendall)
MTL PEN – 07:32 – Gagnon
TOR PEN – 07:32 – Horner
MTL PEN – 10:53 – Desilets
TOR PEN – 10:53 – Horner
TOR PEN – 13:00 – Hamilton
TOR PEN – 16:23 – Horner, minor + game misconduct
MTL PEN – 18:20 – Joliat
TOR PEN – 18:20 – Hamilton

3rd Period
TOR GOAL – 08:30 – Jackson (Apps, Horner)
TOR PEN – 19:02 – Metz

TOR – Broda (W)
MTL – Cude (L)

TORGoaltenders: Turk Broda. Defence: Hap Day (C), Jimmy Fowler, Reg Hamilton, Red Horner. Forwards: Syl Apps, Bob Davidson, Gordie Drillon, Frank Finnigan, Busher Jackson, Bud Jarvis, Bill Kendall, Nick Metz, Jack Shill, Bill Thoms.
MTLGoaltenders: Wilf Cude. Defence: Walter Buswell, Bill MacKenzie, Georges Mantha. Forwards: Toe Blake, George Brown, Joffre Desilets, Polly Drouin, Johnny Gagnon, Aurèle Joliat, Rod Lorrain, Jack McGill, Bill Miller, Howie Morenz, Babe Siebert (C).

TOR – 8-11-2 (.429)
MTL – 13-9-2 (.583)