Game 309 – Canadiens 1, Maple Leafs 0

Game 309
Canadiens 1, Maple Leafs 0
Wednesday, January 21, 1953
Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario

The Maple Leafs sweated out their individual ability into a strong team effort at the Gardens last night – but it wasn’t enough to combat a billiard-like manoeuvre of the Montréal Canadiens that preceded the greatest stick-checking display of the NHL season here.

The pool-hall trick and the defensive tactics parlayed into a 1-0 shutout for the second place Habitants.

“Boom Boom” Geoffrion shot the only goal, a close-in lift that was set up on a billiard carom conceived by Bert Olmstead with less than three minutes of the first period showing on the clock. From there, to the close checking end, the Habitants were leeches defensively to help little Gerry McNeil, in the nets, to his well earned seventh shutout of the winter term.

Rugged Leo Boivin, a standout on the Toronto defence, was off for holding “Rocket” Richard when the Leafs net bulged. Rearguard Doug Harvey started the payoff goal from the Toronto blue line when he fired in the direction of the pesky Olmstead, standing to one side of the goal crease.

Olmstead, with his back to the net, didn’t try to stop the drive. Instead, he spread his legs apart, changed the course of the puck with his stick in banging at it as it went through his skates. The puck zipped across the goalmouth to Geoffrion who, in contrast to some of the jet-like long drives he let go at Lum, popped this one in from a couple of feet out for his 18th goal of the semester.

There wasn’t a Leaf not giving his all – in contrast to some previous showings – but it wasn’t enough. The Leafs had their chances, some good ones that just had to come on sheer drive and teamwork, but they generally crumbled against the Iron Curtain of strong defensive tactics. When they did get through, McNeil outkicked and outsprawled them, and they were outsped too in the legs department up front.

It was playoff type hockey and the persistent checking of the Habs, which broke up so many Leaf attacks almost before they could get organized, made for dull spots at times in the eyes of the standing room gathering of 13,819.

With McNeil and Geoffrion earning the top two stars in the opinion of picker Elmer Ferguson of Montréal, it followed that goalie Harry Lumley of the Leafs should be Fergie’s third choice. Lum maintained his brilliant standard of recent games, hadn’t a hope on the one puck that beat him.

That, as it happened, raised the Habs to within three points of the top running Detroit Red Wings, and prevented the fourth place Leafs from leaping into a tie for third spot with the Chicago Black Hawks. Neither Detroit nor Chicago played last night. Tonight, the Leafs and Habs start anew in Montréal, with a seasonal record of four Toronto triumphs, against three losses and a tie.

Referee Bill Chadwick called four minor penalties against the Canadiens and three against the Leafs, but it was what he missed that made him inconsistent. A qualified press box observer counted 28 instances of hooking and holding which escaped official ire. 22 of these infractions were committed by the Habs during their defensive heroics.

The Leafs’ newest recruit, 19 year old Eric Nesterenko, showed better than in his last couple of games here. He was of the opportunist type, had three close-in chances on which McNeil looked splendid. Once, on a backhander early in the third period, Nesterenko was robbed by McNeil’s sprawling leg save. The kid had a policeman out there, too, in the large sized person of Harry Watson, who showed lots of drive and knocked down several Habs, including Dollard Saint-Laurent, after that rearguard boarded Nesterenko hard early in the first period.

NOTES: Max Bentley, who forced McNeil to a couple of great saves, was in a belligerent mood over some of the hooking tactics. Late in the first period, with the Leafs having a 6-4 advantage in manpower, he scuffled with Saint-Laurent, then tried to get at Olmstead. Then, Maxie went to the penalty box before he discovered that Chadwick hadn’t called a penalty on the affair…Lumley was yanked in the last 30 seconds but the Leafs, with the extra man up front, couldn’t get a shot on the enemy cage, although they kept the puck in the Hab end most of that time…Ex-Leaf Johnny McCormack was a tremendous checking factor, breaking up many a planned Toronto attack in the Leaf end before it got started.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, January 22, 1953

1st Period
TOR PEN – 05:32 – Flaman, tripping
MTL PEN – 11:27 – Harvey, tripping
MTL PEN – 12:53 – MacPherson, hooking
TOR PEN – 15:18 – Boivin, holding
MTL PP GOAL – 17:11 – Geoffrion (Olmstead, Harvey)

2nd Period
MTL PEN – 05:12 – Meger, tripping
MTL PEN – 19:15 – MacPherson, cross checking

3rd Period
TOR PEN – 15:27 – Thomson, holding

MTL – McNeil (W + SO, 25-25)
TOR – Lumley (L, 30-31)

MTL – 9+10+12 = 31
TOR – 9+6+10 = 25

MTLGoaltenders: Gerry McNeil. Defence: Doug Harvey, Tom Johnson, Bud MacPherson, Dollard Saint-Laurent. Forwards: Floyd Curry, Dick Gamble, Bernie Geoffrion, Elmer Lach, Paul Masnick, John McCormack, Paul Meger, Kenny Mosdell, Bert Olmstead, Billy Reay, Maurice Richard.
TORGoaltenders: Harry Lumley. Defence: Leo Boivin, Fern Flaman, Tim Horton, Jim Morrison, Jimmy Thomson. Forwards: George Armstrong, Max Bentley, Gord Hannigan, Bob Hassard, Phil Maloney, Eric Nesterenko, Tod Sloan, Sid Smith, Ron Stewart, Harry Watson.

MTL – 18-12-13 (.570)
TOR – 17-18-9 (.489)