Game 251 – Maple Leafs 2, Canadiens 0

Game 251
Maple Leafs 2, Canadiens 0
Thursday, November 25, 1948
Forum de Montréal, Montréal, Québec

The Toronto Maple Leafs ended their winless ways amid two wild, fist swinging free-for-alls tonight, beating the Montréal Canadiens 2-0.

The bloody tilt, with Harry Watson and Bill Ezinicki the scorers, brought 10 majors and 14 minors for a total of 78 minutes spent in the penalty box, evenly divided.

A packed, rabid Forum gathering of 11,198 screamed and yelled through the weirdest, wildest National Hockey League game in many seasons here. The two major donnybrooks came just 19 seconds apart early in the middle frame, overcrowded the penalty box with 10 culprits, and sent statisticians scurrying into records to see if this had ever happened before.

The Leaf goals, bringing victory after five ties and three losses, came at the start and end of the final frame. Thirty seconds after the period opened, Watson flipped the puck over the prostrate Canadien goalie, Bill Durnan, on a pass from Cal Gardner during a scramble in front of the net.

Ezinicki’s goal came when he shot the puck from 25 feet out into an empty cage that Durnan had vacated in favour of an extra forward. Durnan was just nicely off the ice when Ezinicki broke clear of a fierce Hab ganging attack to score with 10 seconds remaining.

Victory was the second for the Leafs over the Canadiens against a loss and one tie, and gave Turk Broda his first shutout of the season. It marked Toronto’s first road win of the year, and solidified the Leafs’ hold on fourth position.

He kicked out many a goal-labelled drive and beat the great Rocket Richard, playing in his oldtime form, at least eight times on close drives. The flying Richard certainly was the best of the Montréalers.

The first of those free-for-alls flared up when Gus Mortson, bothered by Ken Mosdell, swung his stick, knocking the Habitant down. Then fiery Richard actually leaped through the air on Mortson’s back, and the two went down in a flurry of flying fists as players of both sides joined battle. For a few seconds, there was a compact group of wrestling, heaving gladiators, with the odd blow struck, off to the right of Turk Broda’s cage. Even Durnan skated up the ice to watch, but the Turk remained in his net.

It nearly started again at the entrance to the penalty box, with Meeker and Richard throwing off their gloves and acting belligerently, until linesman George Hayes stepped between them.

Mortson and Richard got majors, and Meeker and Mosdell minors, with Gus getting some first aid treatment after having a bandage over his stitched right forehead torn off in the scuffle.

They had hardly settled in penitence when the second, and most bloodthirsty donnybrook was started.

The teams were playing three men a side, exclusive of the goalies, when that wild bull of the rearguard, Kenny Reardon, and handyman Joe Klukay opened a high sticking bee. In a flash, Bill Barilko piled into Reardon, Klukay took on Billy Reay, and Garth Boesch mixed it up with Hal Laycoe, whose glasses flew off in the skirmish.

The action was near the Leaf bench, and many a blow was struck as blood flowed on the ice. The players flung off gloves, went to it with fists, and finally settled for wrestling holds that crashed each other to the ice. Altogether, the two melees delayed the tilt about 12 minutes, and there was an added delay when cleaners had to sweep up debris, thrown to the ice by excited, irate, rabid Canadien fans.

Laycoe apparently suffered a bloodied nose. Boesch, who apparently had a stitched wound over his eye reopened, went off for repairs, came back in time to finish out his penalty. Referee King Clancy and linesman Hayes ended up with players’ blood on their sweaters.

Another free-for-all was narrowly averted midway through the final frame when Ezinicki, called for slashing Elmer Lach, tore into Lach, seized him in a wrestling hold, threw him to the ice, then picked him up with a chinlock. Meanwhile, Harry Watson was attempting to get at Reardon, but the officials quietened things out with players grouped around. “Wild Bill” received a minor and a major, while Lach took a major.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, November 26, 1948

1st Period
TOR PEN – 01:30 – Ezinicki, slashing
MTL PEN – 04:24 – Riopelle, holding
MTL PEN – 07:42 – Harvey, slashing
MTL PEN – 12:25 – Chamberlain, high sticking
TOR PEN – 12:25 – Taylor, holding
MTL PEN – 13:07 – Reay, tripping
MTL PEN – 14:49 – Reardon, tripping
TOR PEN – 16:43 – team, too many men on the ice

2nd Period
TOR PEN – 01:48 – Ezinicki, tripping
MTL PEN – 05:55 – Richard, fighting major
TOR PEN – 05:55 – Mortson, fighting major
MTL PEN – 05:55 – Mosdell, hooking
TOR PEN – 05:55 – Meeker, roughing
MTL PEN – 06:14 – Reay, fighting major
TOR PEN – 06:14 – Klukay, fighting major
MTL PEN – 15:55 – Reardon, fighting major
TOR PEN – 15:55 – Barilko, fighting major
MTL PEN – 17:55 – Laycoe, fighting major
TOR PEN – 17:55 – Boesch, fighting major

3rd Period
TOR GOAL – 00:30 – Watson (Ezinicki)

TOR PEN – 01:56 – Meeker, charging
MTL PEN – 09:57 – Lach, fighting major
TOR PEN – 09:57 – Ezinicki, fighting major
MTL PEN – 11:12 – Dussault, tripping
TOR PEN – 11:57 – Ezinicki, slashing
TOR EA GOAL – 19:49 – Ezinicki

TOR – Broda (W + SO)
MTL – Durnan (L)

TORGoaltenders: Turk Broda. Defence: Bill Barilko, Garth Boesch, Bill Juzda, Frank Mathers, Gus Mortson, Jimmy Thomson. Forwards: Max Bentley, Les Costello, Bill Ezinicki, Cal Gardner, Ted Kennedy (C), Joe Klukay, Vic Lynn, Howie Meeker, Harry Taylor, Harry Watson.
MTLGoaltenders: Bill Durnan. Defence: Glen Harmon, Doug Harvey, Hal Laycoe, Ken Reardon. Forwards: Joe Carveth, Murph Chamberlain, Eddie Dorohoy, Norm Dussault, Bob Fillion, Elmer Lach, Kenny Mosdell, Billy Reay, Maurice Richard, Rip Riopelle, George Robertson.

TOR – 4-6-5 (.433)
MTL – 6-5-4 (.533)