Game 312 – Maple Leafs 2, Canadiens 2

Game 312
Maple Leafs 2, Canadiens 2
Saturday, February 14, 1953
Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario

The heads of 16 Montréal Canadiens popped up from lowered weariness when coach Dick Irvin fired a bitter blast at the Maple Leafs following a 2-2, fist-flailing draw here Saturday.

It had been a minor war of 66 minutes in penalties, with the locals escaping their fifth successive defeat only through brilliant blocking by goalie Harry Lumley.

“The Leafs put up the worst game I’ve ever seen in the NHL, with their tripping, holding and grabbing,” roared Irvin in the dressing room. “It’s not hockey. It’s a disgrace. They did everything but lasso the ‘Rocket’ (Richard).”

Coach Joe Primeau, informed of the outbreak, took it most calmly. Said “Gentleman Joe”: “Dick must have got a little excited.”

So did most of the fans among the 14,289 crowd, the largest of the season in Maple Leaf Gardens. The 26 penalties – 14 to the Leafs – constituted what is believed to be a modern record for one game in the NHL. Last October, the Leafs and Red Wings drew 25 penalties in their initial meeting of the season, a 4-4 tie in Detroit.

Saturday’s game, weakened by the steady penalty parade, provided some scrambly hockey amid all the extra-curricular activities. There were two fist throwing mob scenes, which threatened to break into free-for-alls, in the second period. On each of these occasions, five penalties were issued.

The teams weren’t shorthanded, however, for any of the goals, with Bob Hassard and Sid Smith the Toronto snipers, and big Butch Bouchard and Dick Gamble netting for the second place Habitants.

Smith provided the final goal on a rather unusual play with little more than eight minutes of the game remaining. He was standing, hopefully, beside the net, when a long shot by Tim Horton struck him on the side. The puck fell on Smith’s stick, and he whipped it through a small opening between goalie Gerry McNeil and the post.

Overall, the Habs, in mildly jolting the Leafs’ playoff hopes, had the better of the play, appeared faster and more experienced. Both sides were guilty of clutching tactics that were overlooked officially. All 26 penalties called by referee Jack Mehlenbacher were minors, with the exception of one five minute fighting major to each side, plus a 10 minute misconduct to Toronto’s Fern Flaman.

Early in the middle period, Ken Mosdell’s elbow started a fracas, when it found Max Bentley’s face. Bentley, back after a 10 day absence with a back injury and robbed a couple of times by McNeil, swiped at Mosdell with his stick. Both sides rushed in, some punches were thrown, and sticks and gloves littered the ice.

Harry Watson, who teamed with George Armstrong as “policemen” on the Bentley line, sorted out Bert Olmstead as his special foe, and chased him halfway across the rink, with Olmstead aiming ineffectual blows as he retreated. It all wound up in mass wrestling.

Seven minutes later, Dick Gamble’s stick caught Horton on the side of the head. When Horton threw Gamble to the ice, all other players rushed to the scene in a big scuffling display. Core of the scrimmage was a fist fight between Bouchard and young Eric Nesterenko, with Master Eric absorbing a dandy on the nose. They drew majors.

Features of the actual hockey were some tingling end-to-end rushes by both teams, especially in the final period, and the checker-board passing display of the Canadiens in the Toronto end when the Leafs were shorthanded. There was Lumley, too, who time after time pulled off near impossible saves.

A couple of those were on Richard, including a tremendous one from in front of the net in the third period that would have made the score 3-1 for Montréal had Lumley missed. Elmer Lach, too, was robbed of a goal, and at the other end, McNeil had to be brilliant at times.

Hassard, a top Leaf forward, opened scoring early in the second period when he stopped a shot by Doug Harvey at the Toronto blueline, broke out alone with the puck and beat McNeil from close in. Bouchard’s second goal of the season came less than three minutes later on a difficult angle shot from the side.

Gamble made it 2-1 for the Canadiens just after the final period opened. Dickie Moore sent the puck sliding out from behind the net and Gamble raced in uncovered to beat Lum. Leaf pressure finally paid off just after Richard from a tripping penalty, and just after Bouchard had cleared the puck, while holding onto Watson’s leg with one hand.

Horton picked up a loose puck and let fly, and Smith was Johnny-on-the-spot for his second goal since his erstwhile centre, Ted Kennedy, was sidelined last New Year’s Night.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, February 16, 1953

1st Period
MTL PEN – 01:42 – Bouchard, holding
TOR PEN – 04:28 – Flaman, elbowing + misconduct
TOR PEN – 09:02 – Hannigan, roughing
MTL PEN – 09:02 – Geoffrion, roughing
TOR PEN – 13:02 – Horton, high sticking
MTL PEN – 13:02 – Masnick, high sticking
TOR PEN – 16:50 – Horton, roughing
MTL PEN – 16:50 – Geoffrion, roughing
MTL PEN – 17:52 – Richard, hooking

2nd Period
TOR GOAL – 02:41 – Hassard
MTL GOAL – 05:16 – Bouchard (Meger)
MTL PEN – 06:34 – Mosdell, roughing
TOR PEN – 06:34 – Watson, roughing
MTL PEN – 06:34 – Olmstead, roughing
TOR PEN – 06:34 – Armstrong, roughing
TOR PEN – 06:54 – Bentley, high sticking
TOR PEN – 13:27 – Nesterenko, fighting major
MTL PEN – 13:27 – Bouchard, fighting major
TOR PEN – 13:27 – Horton, roughing
MTL PEN – 13:27 – Gamble, roughing / high sticking double minor
TOR PEN – 13:27 – Morrison, holding

3rd Period
MTL GOAL – 03:04 – Gamble (Moore, Lach)
TOR PEN – 03:17 – Thomson, tripping
TOR PEN – 06:42 – Hannigan, tripping
TOR PEN – 07:40 – Thomson, slashing
MTL PEN – 08:19 – Lach, interference
MTL PEN – 09:10 – Richard, tripping
TOR GOAL – 11:29 – Smith (Horton, Stewart)

TOR – Lumley (T, 25-27)
MTL – McNeil (T, 22-24)

TOR – 10+3+11 = 24
MTL – 6+10+11 = 27

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

TOR – 20-23-11 (.472)
MTL – 23-15-17 (.573)