Game 253 – Maple Leafs 5, Canadiens 3

Game 253
Maple Leafs 5, Canadiens 3
Saturday, January 1, 1949
Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario

Amid wild stick slugging scenes reminiscent of the infamous Gaye Stewart-Jimmy Orlando bloodletting, the suddenly aroused Toronto Maple Leafs outfought and outplayed the Montréal Canadiens 5-3 at the Gardens Saturday night.

The bitterly fought contest, which saw Cal Gardner and Kenny Reardon banished from the game for belting each other recklessly across heads and shoulders with their sticks in a second period donnybrook, was a costly one for both teams.

The Leafs lost Vic Lynn, who went out with a dislocated shoulder in the third period, while Harry Taylor aggravated a back injury in the middle session. The former will be sidelined for between four and six weeks. Taylor, although suffering considerable pain, left for New York with the team.

The Canadiens’ already lengthy casualty list was increased, with the names of Ken Mosdell, slight concussion; Rip Riopelle, a twisted knee; and Rocket Richard, a bruised head.

Despite the nonsensical outburst of “quarter staffing,” which might have had much more serious implications through the wanton desire of Gardner and Reardon to injure each other, it was a rapidly moving game of hockey from start to finish.

The Leafs were a vastly improved team, with practically every player performing in major league style. The winners were sparked by the great performance of Ted Kennedy, who scored two goals and shared extra centre ice duties with Max Bentley when Gardner was ruled off the ice.

There were many other encouraging displays by the Torontonians, such as Jimmy Thomson’s great two-way display, which netted him three assists and broke up many a Canadien rush.

But for sheer drama, the 14,110 holiday fans will long remember the vicious second period brawl. The headstrong display of the spirited Reardon during the opening 20 minutes paved the way for the slugfest.

Reardon, who shortly before game time had informed radio fans from coast to coast he had made two New Year’s resolutions – to make fewer trips to the penalty box and not to talk back to the referees – came up with his wildest game on Toronto ice.

He started off by cross checking Lynn on the back of the head, and a few minutes later sent the same player flying into the boards with a hard charge. He drew minor penalties for both offences. At the start of the second period, he took Gardner out of a play with some high ticking, and the Toronto centre retaliated in similar fashion. On that occasion, speed of play separated them before any damage was done.

Minutes later, Reardon clashed with Bill Ezinicki, and then started fighting with Gardner. The two players stood and slashed each other with brutal force, Gardner eventually smashing his stick over Reardon’s shoulder.

Referee Bill Chadwick, who handled a tough game in common sense manner, shouted to the players to head for their dressing rooms as linesman George Hayes temporarily separated them. But both were anxious to continue the fight, and fists replaced sticks as the fight continued for several minutes.

When the combatants were finally separated, they were kicked out of the game, an additional two minutes given to Reardon for starting the fracas. Ezinicki drew a minor for his part in the proceedings.

As Reardon left the ice, coach Dick Irvin held the player’s arm aloft in a symbol of victory. It was a foolish display of management’s approval of a player breaking the rules.

As for the hockey, the Leafs opened the scoring early in the first period with Don Metz, making his Toronto debut of this season, breaking through the Canadien defence to gather in Thomson’s pass. Montréal tied it up less than four minutes later with Rip Riopelle finishing off a three man passing play with Glen Harmon and Ken Mosdell.

The Leafs added two goals and were deprived of a third by a quick whistle before the period ended. During Reardon’s first penalty, Kennedy took Bentley’s pass with Doug Harvey draped around his neck and fired past Bill Durnan. Actualy, Metz scored as referee Chadwick whistled to a halt to banish Reardon, and the official later admitted to the Leafs that he had erred.

Reardon was sitting out penalty number two when Harry Watson did a thorough job of scoring by following the puck into the net on passes from Thomson and Bentley. A second period penalty to Thomson wiped out the Leafs’ two goal lead. First Harmon and then Reay scored on a new type power play, with Reardon on the forward line blocking extremely well.

Thomson atoned for his penalty with a nice rush to set Kennedy up for the Leafs’ fourth goal soon after leaving the penalty bench. Ezinicki completed the scoring in the final period with some clever goalmouth manoeuvring.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, January 3, 1949

1st Period
TOR GOAL – 01:18 – Metz (Thomson)

MTL GOAL – 04:52 – Riopelle (Harmon, Mosdell)
MTL PEN – 05:00 – Reardon, slashing
TOR PP GOAL – 06:00 – Kennedy (Bentley)
MTL PEN – 11:22 – Reardon, boarding
TOR PP GOAL – 11:51 – Watson (Bentley, Thomson)

2nd Period
TOR PEN – 00:47 – Thomson, tripping
MTL PP GOAL – 01:49 – Harmon (Carveth)
MTL PP GOAL – 02:25 – Reay (Harmon, Carveth)
TOR GOAL – 04:57 – Kennedy (Thomson)
MTL PEN – 06:37 – Reardon, high sticking + game misconduct
TOR PEN – 06:37 – Gardner, game misconduct
TOR PEN – 06:37 – Ezinicki, high sticking
TOR PEN – 12:04 – Ezinicki, holding
MTL PEN – 19:29 – Harmon, roughing
TOR PEN – 19:29 – Metz, roughing

3rd Period
TOR GOAL – 01:53 – Ezinicki (Boesch)

MTL PEN – 18:49 – Harvey, tripping

TOR – Broda (W)
MTL – Durnan (L)

TORGoaltenders: Turk Broda. Defence: Bill Barilko, Garth Boesch, Gus Mortson, Jimmy Thomson. Forwards: Max Bentley, Ray Ceresino, Bill Ezinicki, Cal Gardner, Ted Kennedy (C), Vic Lynn, Don Metz, Harry Taylor, Ray Timgren, Harry Watson.
MTLGoaltenders: Bill Durnan. Defence: Glen Harmon, Doug Harvey, Hal Laycoe, Ken Reardon. Forwards: Tod Campeau, Joe Carveth, Murph Chamberlain, Norm Dussault, Bob Fillion, Léo Gravelle, Kenny Mosdell, Billy Reay, Maurice Richard, Rip Riopelle, George Robertson.

TOR – 10-13-6 (.448)
MTL – 11-12-5 (.482)