Game 163 – Maple Leafs 3, Canadiens 1

Game 163
Maple Leafs 3, Canadiens 1
Saturday, January 6, 1940
Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario

Slogging grimly ahead on the treacherous treadmill that is the National Hockey League’s upper bracket, the Toronto Maple Leafs used the Montréal Canadiens and a 3-1 victory for traction Saturday night, and slithered back for a short term stay in first place beside the New York Rangers.

But the uncertain footing was backtracking under their idle skates twenty four hours later, as the Rangers grasped the handiest pike pole in sight, the Detroit Red Wings, and struck out for the lonely pace once more.

The Leafs fought hard for the victory, and paid for it in hard coin. The immediate toll was the loss of wingers Gordon Drillon and Nick Metz, both severely injured in the heavy firing, and the long range cost won’t be determined until the team, already working under the handicap of Sylvanus Apps’ enforced absence, has faced the rigid test of games this week against the New York Americans, Boston Bruins and the Rangers.

Drillon, the league’s top scorer, sustained a deep cut on his right instep when he plunged over Canadien defenceman Walter Buswell’s foot early in the first period, and was helped to the dressing room to receive two stitches, and the unwelcome surgical estimate that he will be laid up for at least ten days.

Metz incurred a possible ruptured kidney when he bounced into Cy Wentworth behind the Habitant net late in the game. At first he thought it was merely a superficial bruise, but by 2:30 Sunday morning the red haired utility forward was in such pain he was rushed to Wellesley Hospital, where Drillon was already bedded down. Metz was fed intravenously yesterday, although it may be another twenty four hours before the injury can be diagnosed. At the best, he is not likely to play for two weeks.

There were three other casualties of lesser consequence. Bill Summerhill, fresh up from New Haven with Armand Mondou and Gus Mancuso, twisted ligaments in his chest when he bumped into Toe Blake, a teammate. Wally Stanowski of the Leafs took a shot from Blake’s stick in the face early in the finale, and finished the game with a five stitch patch on his upper lip, and Georges Mantha of the Canadiens was shaken up when he collided with a goalpost at his own end of the rink.

The Canadiens, battling against their ninth straight defeat with a hardy vigour born of desperation, held out valiantly until the fifth minute of the third period, when Reggie Hamilton mousetrapped four out of five of busy Claude Bourque’s auxiliary defenders, and broke a scoreless deadlock on a booming shot from 15 foot range. Red Heron made it 2 to 0 before Toe Blake retaliated for the Canadiens, but Nick Metz promptly countered with the game’s last goal at 17:46.

Before these rifts developed in an astonishingly strong defensive front, the Canadiens played as though each member of the ensemble carried a personal invitation to address the next meeting of the New Haven Chamber of Commerce. For two full periods, they gave the Leafs and 9,678 customers the most interesting game of hockey the Gardens has seen since mid-December, a game which produced a welkin-ringing welter of old-fashioned body checking, and cast such willing bouncers as Bucko McDonald, Bingo Kampman and Reggie Hamilton of the Leafs, and Buswell and Red Goupille of the Canadiens, in nobly virile roles.

The Leafs, despite the collision which put Drillon out of action and sent Metz into his plce on what used to be the first line, held a thin shade on these robust early exchanges. Kelly blasted straight into Bourque’s pads four times from within scoring distance. Marker made him slide fast once. Schriner tested his agility twice. Metz was eye-to-eye with him once, and Kampman nearly caught a hole on a blistering drive through the defence. At the other end, Mondou hit a crossbar with Broda licked, and Mantha, Getliffe, Sands and Blake lost equally narrow decisions.

The Canadiens were still baying determinedly on the spoor of their first victory since December 14 when disaster struck. Goupille was caught back alone when Hamilton plunged out of the populous Toronto defence zone, with Taylor at his side. The Canadien defenceman backed in slowly, which left Bourque with three men to watch at once. Hamilton’s sudden shot had him rooted.

Ten minutes later, at 14:23 of the closing period, Heron picked off a rebound after McDonald and Marker had combined to bring Bourque far out of his net, Blake snatched Broda’s shutout from him at 17:02, after Trudel had dumped the disc into the goalmouth. Metz sailed in to grab another rebound 42 seconds afterward. Taylor helped clear the path.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, January 8, 1940

1st Period
TOR PEN – Chamberlain
MTL PENS – Goupille, Mancuso

2nd Period
MTL PEN – Goupille

3rd Period
TOR GOAL – 00:43 – Metz (Taylor)
MTL GOAL – 02:40 – Blake (Trudel)

TOR GOAL – 04:25 – Hamilton

TOR GOAL – 09:58 – Heron (Marker, McDonald)

TOR – Broda (W)
MTL – Bourque (L)

TORGoaltenders: Turk Broda. Defence: Reg Hamilton, Bingo Kampman, Bucko McDonald, Wally Stanowski. Forwards: Murph Chamberlain, Bob Davidson, Gordie Drillon, Red Heron, Pep Kelly, Pete Langelle, Gus Marker, Nick Metz, Sweeney Schriner, Billy Taylor.
MTLGoaltenders: Claude Bourque. Defence: Walter Buswell (C), Red Goupille, Georges Mantha, Cy Wentworth, Doug Young. Forwards: Marty Barry, Toe Blake, Ray Getliffe, Gus Mancuso, Armand Mondou, Charlie Sands, Bill Summerhill, Lou Trudel.

TOR – 14-7-3 (.646)
MTL – 7-13-2 (.364)