Game 308 – Maple Leafs 2, Canadiens 0

Game 308
Maple Leafs 2, Canadiens 0
Wednesday, December 24, 1952
Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario

The Maple Leafs broke open a Christmas package last night, a brilliant 2-0 triumph over the Montréal Canadiens, that handed goalie Harry Lumley a well earned shutout to deposit tenderly under his Christmas tree.

Before a roaring yuletide eve gathering of 12,457, that included hundreds of wide-eyed kids on Young Canada night, Gordie Hannigan and Harry Watson lighted the scoring candles over the last 15 minutes. It was a tremendous climax to a fast, hard hitting affair, and the roars on end were reminiscent of a Stanley Cup triumph.

The Leafs fought furiously for this one, their second triumph in their last seven games, and moved from the fifth spot into a fourth place tie with the idle Boston Bruins. They played it hard, the way they have to to win, and they were helped quite a bit by young Eric Nesterenko, a gangling kid up from the Marlboro juniors on a lend-lease basis and by centre Phil Maloney, elevated from the Pittsburgh Hornets to help alleviate the injury shortage.

There wasn’t an apparent weak spot on the Leafs, and to pick out a few glittering standouts, there were skipper Ted Kennedy, who worked so hard he might not have strength to lift a drumstick; Leo Boivin, a bull-like little gent on defence who belted and rushed with authority; Hannigan, the two Jims, Thomson and Morrison, Ron Stewart, Nesterenko and Maloney.

Lumley was magnificent in thwarting some mighty dangerous Habitant rushes, and some of the Canadiens would be justified in calling him a robber. He especially cheated “Boom Boom” Geoffrion, he of the jet-like shot, who let a couple go that could have torn any of the youngsters present in half. It was Lum’s second whitewash chore, the first coming against his old Chicago teammates back on December 6.

“Hopalong” Hannigan, riding the range in a fine, battling style, set off a cheering barrage with a sharp trigger finger at the five minute mark of the final frame. He was hopalong-on-the-spot to backhand in a short rebound after Morrison battled to get away a close-in lob.

Hannigan nearly scored again a couple of minutes later, before Watson sewed up the package tight.

Hardy Doug Harvey was the only Canadien rearguard back when Watson and his pivot man Maloney broke away from some desperate Habitant efforts in the Toronto end. Watson passed to Maloney, who passed it back in time for Watson to let a low blazer after he crossed the blue line. Little Gerry McNeil, who didn’t have as many nor as hard shots to handle as Lum, never even got a piece of it.

There were plenty of socks exchanged in keeping with the season, but most were administered with the body and not the fist. Spirited Howie Meeker, a sore knee apparently not bothering him a whit, was all for clouting giant Butch Bouchard in the opening period – but Butch was in a festive mood. Almost comically, he put a hold around Meeker’s neck and held him down.

The Leafs were without George Armstrong, “The Big Chief” who suffered a twisted knee last weekend, and centres Max Bentley and Rudy Migay, who have been out for some time. Young Nesterenko held down Army’s right wing spot on a line with Bob Hassard and Hannigan. He showed a tendency to stray from his wing, but he also showed plenty of spirit and poise, and didn’t look out of place in big time company.

Maloney was a speedball, and seemed determined to make a place here.

If there was a disappointment for the crowd, it was that skipper Kennedy couldn’t snare the 200th goal of a great National Hockey League career. To date, in his 10th full season with the Leafs, he has amassed 199 goals and 241 assists for a total of 440, that places him seventh among the top point getters still playing in the league.

NOTES: “Rocket” Richard only showed in brief surges, mostly in the first half of the game. French speaking writers here said he had gone back of late…Red Storey refereed leniently in assessing only four minor penalties – three to the Leafs. He overlooked the Bouchard-Meeker scuffle entirely, and another one later between Kennedy and rough Tom Johnson. The Leafs also won the young Canada night game last season…The Habs were minus Elmer Lach, out with a fractured thumb, and Billy Reay, who received a fractured jawbone last weekend. They used rookie Gerry Desaulniers, up from the Montréal Royals.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, December 25, 1952

1st Period
TOR PEN – 06:27 – Kennedy, tripping
MTL PEN – 16:59 – Johnson, slashing
TOR PEN – 16:59 – Stewart, high sticking

2nd Period

3rd Period
TOR GOAL – 04:59 – Hannigan (Hassard, Morrison)
TOR GOAL – 10:33 – Watson (Maloney, Meeker)
TOR PEN – 15:55 – Morrison, tripping

TOR – Lumley (W + SO, 32-32)
MTL – McNeil (L, 25-27)

TOR – 11+7+9 = 27
MTL – 14+9+9 = 32

TORGoaltenders: Harry Lumley. Defence: Leo Boivin, Fern Flaman, Tim Horton, Jim Morrison, Jimmy Thomson. Forwards: Gord Hannigan, Bob Hassard, Ted Kennedy (C), Phil Maloney, Howie Meeker, Eric Nesterenko, Tod Sloan, Sid Smith, Ron Stewart, Ray Timgren, Harry Watson.
MTLGoaltenders: Gerry McNeil. Defence: Butch Bouchard (C), Doug Harvey, Tom Johnson, Bud MacPherson. Forwards: Floyd Curry, Gerard Desaulniers, Dick Gamble, Bernie Geoffrion, Paul Masnick, John McCormack, Paul Meger, Kenny Mosdell, Bert Olmstead, Maurice Richard.

TOR – 13-14-7 (.485)
MTL – 13-10-9 (.547)