Game 609 – Canadiens 2, Maple Leafs 1

Game 609
Canadiens 2, Maple Leafs 1
Monday, January 12, 1987
Forum de Montréal, Montréal, Québec

The Toronto Maple Leafs have had enough trouble this season winning games on the road.

So, as far as they were concerned, the last thing they needed was for the referee to side with the home team in a close contest.

But that’s exactly what the Leafs felt referee Ron Fournier did last night in their 2-1 loss to the Montréal Canadiens in an exciting National Hockey League contest before 17,067 spectators at the Forum.

The loss was the third in a row for the Leafs and the fourth of their five-game road trip that ended last night. It was also their 16th loss in 21 matches away from the friendlier confines of Maple Leaf Gardens.

“Overall, I thought that was our best effort of the season, certainly on the road,” said agitated coach John Brophy. “We’ve been getting some good efforts on the road and losing by one goal. We certainly didn’t need the referee against us.”

The Leafs were particularly bitter about Sergio Momesso’s game-winning goal in the third period. They argued that the Canadiens’ left winger directed the puck into the net with his hands, a definite no-no according to the rulebook.

However, Fournier decided the puck simply struck Momesso’s body after Leafs goalie Ken Wregget had stopped the original shot by Bobby Smith.

Momesso, naturally, lauded Fournier’s excellent eyesight.

“I tried to hit the puck with the shaft of my stick, but I missed,” said Momesso, who managed not to smirk as he explained the goal. “It hit my chest and went in.”

Leafs, in unison, said something that sounded like bull chips.

“Ever since I was a kid, any time there’s a close game in Montréal the ref is going to help the Canadiens win,” said Leafs defenceman Chris Kotsopoulos.

Defenceman Al Iafrate, who was the closest to Momesso, insisted the Canadien used his hands on the play.

“I knew Smith was going to shoot so I peeled off with Momesso and was standing next to him,” said Iafrate. “Ken stopped the shot and the puck was still airborne when Momesso skated into it and sort of shrugged his shoulders to bring his hands together and shovelled it into the net.

“I don’t know if I should be saying this, but I think he (Fournier) was intimidated by the crowd.”

Wregget, who faced 32 shots and made several excellent saves, said the puck hit the top of Momesso’s glove.

“He definitely pushed it in,” said Wregget. “It shouldn’t have been allowed, not in that close a game.”

The goal wasn’t the only complaint Leafs had with Fournier.

They felt that Peter Ihnacak, who was probably Leafs’ best player on the night, was hit with a cheap holding penalty in the first period.

It was while he was serving the sentence that Smith put the Habs ahead 1-0.

“That was a ridiculous call,” complained Brophy. “It was stupid. Peter never should have had a penalty.”

Not only did Leafs disapprove of Fournier’s calls against them, they were equally upset with the calls he didn’t make against the Canadiens.

Rick Vaive skated after Fournier at the end of the game as the referee left the ice to complain about what he felt should have been a penalty against a Canadien for upending Vincent Damphousse as Leafs pressed in search of the tying goal in the final minute of the game.

“I know they don’t call penalties late in a close game, but that one was too obvious for him not to call it,” said Vaive.

Damphousse, a rookie from the Montréal suburb of Ville d’Anjou, played a strong game in his debut as a pro at the Forum.

He had a particularly outstanding first period, when he set up Vaive and Steve Thomas for good scoring opportunities.

“We had a couple of penalties we shouldn’t have had and he could have called a couple on them,” said Damphousse. “But the Canadiens are a big, strong team and they never stop hitting. Their goalie (Brian Hayward) made some big saves, too.”

Leafs finally did tie the game early in the third period, when Vaive sent Miroslav Ihnacak in alone on Hayward with a perfect rink- wide pass.

But it took the Canadiens less than three minutes to produce the controversial winner.

NOTES: Leafs defenceman Rick Lanz injured his neck in the second period when he fell into the boards with large Larry Robinson on top of him as the two collided along the boards.

Story originally published in The Toronto Star, January 13, 1987

1st Period
TOR PEN – 08:41 – P. Ihnacak, holding
MTL PP GOAL – 09:50 – Smith (Gingras, Lemieux)
MTL PEN – 12:20 – Carbonneau, hooking
TOR PEN – 17:39 – team, too many men on the ice

2nd Period
TOR PEN – 08:11 – Salming, hooking
MTL PEN – 08:11 – Smith, slashing
TOR PEN – 09:46 – Jackson, slashing
MTL PEN – 12:37 – Skrudland, tripping

3rd Period
TOR GOAL – 04:01 – M. Ihnacak (Vaive, Iafrate)
TOR PEN – 04:42 – Salming, tripping
MTL GOAL – 06:45 – Momesso (Smith, Richer)

MTL – Hayward (W, 30-31)
TOR – Wregget (L, 30-32)

MTL – 13+12+7 = 32
TOR – 16+9+6 = 31

MTLGoaltenders: Brian Hayward. Defence: Chris Chelios, Gaston Gingras, Rick Green, Mike Lalor, Craig Ludwig, Larry Robinson (A). Forwards: Guy Carbonneau, Shayne Corson, Bob Gainey (C), Claude Lemieux, David Maley, Mike McPhee, Sergio Momesso, Mats Naslund (A), Stéphane Richer, Brian Skrudland, Bobby Smith, Ryan Walter.
TORGoaltenders: Ken Wregget. Defence: Al Iafrate, Chris Kotsopoulos, Rick Lanz, Bob McGill, Bill Root, Borje Salming (A). Forwards: Mike Allison, Wendel Clark (A), Russ Courtnall, Vincent Damphousse, Miroslav Ihnacak, Peter Ihnacak, Jeff Jackson, Gary Leeman, Kevin Maguire, Greg Terrion, Steve Thomas, Rick Vaive.

MTL – 22-17-6 (.556)
TOR – 17-20-5 (.464)