Game 198 – Maple Leafs 5, Canadiens 0

Game 198
Maple Leafs 5, Canadiens 0
Tuesday, January 11, 1944
Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario

Three major issues stood out as the second place Toronto Leafs squared off with the front running Montréal Canadiens at Maple Leaf Gardens last night. A crowd of 12,641, one of the largest of the season, wanted to know:
1. How good are the Canadiens?
2. How tough are the Canadiens?
3. How good is Bill Durnan?

The answers were provided in a businesslike, two fisted manner by Hap Day’s Leafs themselves, like this:
1. Not so good they could prevent the Leafs from hanging up a 5-0 shutout victory.
2. Not so tough sophomore Jackie McLean couldn’t score a knockdown decision over rough and ready Murphy Chamberlain, and freshman Windy O’Neill couldn’t outslug and outgrapple the temperamental Phillippe Watson.
3. Not so good he could match the netminding wizardry of Paul Bibeault, the Canadiens’ goalie tossed the way of the Leafs in a wartime shuffle.

Lorne Carr, Don Webster and Gus Bodnar directed the heavy goal bombing against a club, up until last night regarded as so far out in front of the rest of the National Hockey League, it looked like hounds trying to catch the mechanical rabbit at the dog races.

Young Webster, a freshman National Leaguer filling in for the injured Bob Davidson at left wing on Toronto’s most substantial scoring line, tossed in two first period goals. Carr and Bodnar laid the foundation for both scores.

In the second period, Carr tagged the Montréal nets for two more scores on plays with Bodnar. Then came a hot potato passing bout, started and finished by Reg Hamilton. “Teeder” Kennedy was his collaborator. Reg polished off the attack for Toronto’s fifth goal, his second of the season.

The third period was a potent hockey mixture, delayed 10 minutes while athletes dropped sticks and went a-punching, and then resumed to feature Paul Bibeault standing off his former temmates. It was Bibeault’s second shutout in six games in a Leaf uniform, and only the third recorded in the league this winter. Bill Durnan got the other.

Toronto’s “Mighty Atoms,” Jackie Hamilton, Jackie McLean and Windy O’Neill, were the shock troops against which the vaunted Montréal attack failed last night.

In a good piece of bench strategy, coach Hap Day pitted his toy bulldogs against Murphy Chamberlain, Phil Watson and Maurice Richard. Neither Chamberlain nor Watson relished the hound dog checking of the youngsters in the first period, and the free-for-all of the third was a-kindling. The closest approach came in the opening period, when Mike McMahon, Montréal’s broad beamed defenceman, tried to separate O’Neill from his ears. Referee Bert Hedges let that clash go unpunished.

The second period was devoted to hockey, with the Leafs on the business end of the scoring again. The only suggestion of the brawl to come was Watson’s vigorous protesting to Hedges against O’Neill’s devoted checking.

It was the “Mighty Atoms” in the third period against Chamberlain, Watson and Fillion when the storm broke. You could see it coming. Just inside the Montréal defence zone, McLean upset Chamberlain. Here it was.

Chamberlain charged the Varsity engineer fledgling, bowled him over, and then proceeded to part Jackie’s hair with his stick. Promoter Jack Allen could have featured the major bouts that followed McLean against Chamberlain: O’Neill against Watson. At the finish, Chamberlain had a bloody nose, Watson a black eye and a cut eyebrow that needed medical attention.

Referee Hedges banished McLean, Chamberlain and Watson with match misconduct penalties. Watson picked up a major penalty as well for attacking linesman Jim Primeau. O’Neill was majored in the penalty box and for taming the fiery Watson. Primeau deserved one of those three star spoons for hammer-locking Watson after being slugged.

All I know about the late Georges Vézina is what I read in the record books, and what gnarled oldtimers tell me. If he was any better than Paul Bibeault on a night like last night, he just wasn’t human. I haven’t seen a National League goalie pick off shots with his mitts as Bibeault did against his ex-mates since Tiny Thompson was gobbling up pucks like Pete Campbell’s Frankie Zak at shortstop for the baseballing Leafs.

Off last night’s game and other performances, if Babe Pratt and Lorne Carr don’t grab All Star berths this winter, then there “ain’t no justice.” And it should be a two way race between Bodnar and Elwin Morris for the Rookie of the Year award.

“Toronto hockey fans,” said Hap Day as he cooled out after the game, “should be proud of their hockey team. I know I am, particularly those kids. When immature youngsters can go out and battle the way they did against strong armed veterans, and make them like it, there’s nothing wrong with the Leafs.”

“Tommy Gorman,” added Day, “has been shouting the praises of defenceman Glen Harmon as another Clancy. He’s away offside. He means Windy O’Neill. There’s a kid that’s got the Clancy spirit written all over him.”

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, January 12, 1944

1st Period
TOR GOAL – 06:31 – Webster (Carr, Bodnar)

TOR GOAL – 09:25 – Webster (Carr, Bodnar)
TOR PENS – Ingoldsby, Webster
MTL PENS – McMahon, Richard

2nd Period
TOR GOAL – 08:17 – Carr (Bodnar)
TOR GOAL – 15:55 – Carr (Bodnar)
TOR GOAL – 19:23 – R. Hamilton (Kennedy)
TOR PENS – R. Hamilton, Pratt, Webster
MTL PEN – Blake

3rd Period
TOR PENS – McLean (20 min. match penalty), O’Neill (major), Pratt
MTL PENS – Watson (major + 20 min. match penalty), Chamberlain (20 min. match penalty), McMahon

TOR – Bibeault (W + SO)
MTL – Durnan (L)

TORGoaltenders: Paul Bibeault. Defence: Reg Hamilton, Moe Morris, Babe Pratt. Forwards: Gus Bodnar, George Boothman, Lorne Carr, Jackie Hamilton, John Ingoldsby, Ted Kennedy, Jack McLean, Tom O’Neill, Don Webster.
MTLGoaltenders: Bill Durnan. Defence: Glen Harmon, Mike McMahon. Forwards: Toe Blake (C), Murph Chamberlain, Bob Fillion, Gerry Heffernan, Elmer Lach, Leo Lamoureux, Fern Majeau, Buddy O’Connor, Maurice Richard, Phil Watson.

TOR – 15-11-2 (.571)
MTL – 20-3-3 (.827)