Preseason Game 20 – Maple Leafs 4, Canadiens 3

Preseason Game 20
Maple Leafs 4, Canadiens 3
Wednesday, September 23, 1981
Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario

Stewart Gavin couldn’t have wiped the smile off his face if he had tried.

The rookie left winger, who spent most of last year in the minors wondering what it would be like to star in the National Hockey League, had just assisted on three goals to lead the Toronto Maple Leafs to a 4-3 exhibition victory over the Montréal Canadiens, and this time, the feeling was real, not imagined. “When I skated out as the first star, well, I don’t think I’ll ever forget it,” Gavin said. “Last year, I played 14 games with the Leafs and ended up getting three points. Tonight, I did it in one game.”

Like many of his rookie colleagues, Gavin is still in awe of the big league structure. But, slowly, his confidence is coming, he says.

“Last year, I was jittery when I was at camp,” Gavin said. “And, this year, I have a lot to prove. The competition is quite tough and everyone is going all out to get a spot.”

Almost everyone on the team feels that way these days, especially the veterans.

After the game, coach Mike Nykoluk did nothing to bolster the veterans’ confidence, saying that, when the regular season starts, there could be three rookies on defence and a couple more up front.

“We now have some classy kids here who are very close to making the team,” Nykoluk said. “I’d be very disappointed if Gavin doesn’t make it.”

Gavin, a smooth skater, has developed into an excellent forechecker and penalty killer.

After Darryl Sittler put the Leafs ahead in the first minute of the game, Gavin got the first of his two shorthanded assists.

While Laurie Boschman was in the penalty box for interference, Gavin checked Canadien rookie Craig Laughlin deep in the Montréal end and directed the puck to Pat Hickey, who slammed the puck past Rick Wamsley, giving the Leafs a 2-0 lead.

Later in the period, Bob Gainey scored for the Canadiens.

Midway through the second period, Jiri Crha replaced rookie goalie Bob Parent, who played a strong game, and Richard Sévigny took over from Wamsley.

Right after the goaltending switch, Montréal’s Ivan Joly got a breakway on Crha and scored to tie the game 2-2.

But minutes later, Gavin, this time on the power play, dug the puck out to Bob Manno in the slot and Manno fired quickly to give Toronto the lead.

In the third period, Pierre Mondou put Montréal back into a tie when he took a pass from Mark Hunter and skated past the defensive tandem of Borje Salming and Jim Benning to score on Crha.

The winning goal came minutes later and, like the Leafs’ second tally, it was shorthanded.

Again Boschman was off for interference and, again, Gavin assisted. This time, Bill Derlago took Gavin’s pass and shot high on Sévigny to put Toronto ahead for good.

Rookie defenceman Bob McGill served notice that he will not be pushed around.

In the second period, McGill and Montréal tough guy Chris Nilan dropped their gloves and fought toe-to-toe before McGill grabbed Nilan’s legs and flipped him to the ice.

“I was figuring something might happen,” McGill said. “He cross checked me in the face, so I slashed him in the head and we started to fight.”

McGill, a noted fighter in junior hockey with the Victoria Cougars of the Western Hockey League, said the NHL veterans tend to have a few tricks up their sleeve when the fisticuffs begin, but, in junior, the battles were just as hard fought.

Nykoluk said after the game that three rookie defencemen may stay with the team when the regular season starts.

The three would probably be McGill, Fred Boimistruck, who played last year with the Memorial Cup champion Cornwall Royals, and first draft choice Jim Benning, who played last season with the WHL’s Portland Winter Hawks.

Another blueliner who might find a spot is Manno, the former Vancouver Canuck. He played a strong game last night on defence with Salming.

NOTES: Rick Vaive almost suffered a serious injury when Larry Robinson drove him into the goal post in the second period. Fortunately, he only received a bump on the head…The Leafs’ next exhibition game is Saturday at home against the Buffalo Sabres.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, September 24, 1981

1st Period
TOR GOAL – 00:54 – Sittler (McGill, Benning)

TOR PEN – 08:34 – Boschman, interference
TOR SH GOAL – 09:34 – Hickey (Gavin)
MTL GOAL – 12:54 – Gainey (Hunter, Mondou)
MTL PEN – 15:58 – Tremblay, high sticking

2nd Period
TOR PEN – 01:42 – McGill, fighting major
MTL PEN – 01:42 – Nilan, fighting major
MTL PEN – 04:23 – Tremblay, slashing
TOR PEN – 04:23 – Hickey, delay of game
TOR PEN – 05:28 – Boimistruck, cross checking
MTL GOAL – 11:17 – Joly (Daoust)
TOR PEN – 11:53 – McGill, high sticking
MTL PEN – 16:02 – Robinson, interference
TOR PP GOAL – 17:00 – Manno (Gavin, Derlago)

3rd Period
MTL PEN – 00:46 – Engblom, holding
MTL GOAL – 05:56 – Mondou (Hunter)
TOR PEN – 08:12 – Boimistruck, hooking
MTL PEN – 11:32 – Gainey, high sticking
TOR PEN – 13:31 – Boschman, interference
TOR SH GOAL – 13:43 – Derlago (Gavin)

TOR – Parent (17-18), Crha (W, 12-14)
MTL – Wamsley (15-17), Sévigny (L, 15-17)

TOR – 10+13+11 = 34
MTL – 8+19+5 = 32

TORGoaltenders: Jiri Crha, Bob Parent. Defence: Jim Benning, Fred Boimistruck, Vitezslav Duris, Bob Manno, Bob McGill, Borje Salming. Forwards: John Anderson, Laurie Boschman, Bill Derlago, Stew Gavin, Pat Hickey, Benoit Laporte, Terry Martin, Frank Nigro, Wilf Paiement, Darryl Sittler, Rick Vaive, Ken Yaremchuk.
MTL Goaltenders: Richard Sévigny, Rick Wamsley. Defence: Gilbert Delorme, Brian Engblom, Bill Kitchen, Rod Langway, Guy Lapointe, Larry Robinson. Forwards: Guy Carbonneau, Dan Daoust, Bob Gainey, Mark Hunter, Doug Jarvis, Yvan Joly, Guy Lafleur, Yvon Lambert, Craig Laughlin, Pierre Mondou, Mark Napier, Chris Nilan, Mario Tremblay, Doug Wickenheiser.