1934 MEMORIAL CUP
Edmonton Athletics vs. Toronto St. Michael's Majors
at Winnipeg (Amphitheatre)
It was on March 21 when hockey fans who were paying attention must have known that the St. Michael's Majors out of Toronto were destiny's darlings for this season.
It was that night in Toronto when the boys from St. Michael's, the Irish Catholic school, opened a playoff series with the Ottawa Shamrocks.
Despite the Shamrocks being referred to as "one of the most tenacious checking teams” St. Mike's had little trouble skating to an 8-2 victory. Nick Metz, a Saskatchewan lad, pumped in three goals for the winners.
St. Michael's then posted a 9-3 victory in Ottawa to win the series, 17-5.
St. Mike's featured the likes of Bobby Bauer, Reg Hamilton, Art Jackson, Regis (Pep) Kelly, Metz, Don Wilson, Mickey Drouillard, Jack Hamilton and goaltender Harvey Teno. Kelly and Wilson had come over from the Newmarket Redmen, the 1933 Memorial Cup champions.
The Toronto team was coached by Dr. W.J. (Jerry) LaFlamme, a dentist who had quite a hockey history. He had refereed in the NHL in the 1920s. That was after he had played defence on the Allan Cup winners from St. Michael's in 1909-10 and captained the Allan Cup-winning Dentals of Toronto in 1916-17.
St. Mike's would ultimately advance to the eastern final against the Charlottetown Abegweits, who took a two-game, total-goal series from the Montreal Cranes, 12-5.
The eastern final, played in Toronto, was a blowout.
St. Mike's opened with a 12-2 victory.
"The Toronto team, called the greatest aggregation of junior puck chasers gathered together in a decade, smothered Charlottetown,” The Canadian Press reported of Game 1, played on March 27.
Game 2 was no better, as St. Mike's romped 7-2 to take the round, 19-4. The Majors were without Drouillard, who centred the second line. He had suffered a charley horse in Game 1.
Meanwhile, out west, it was to be the season of the Edmonton Athletic Club (known as the Athletics), featuring captain Dan Carrigan, brothers MacNeil and Matthew Colville, and Bill Carse.
Edmonton got rid of Trail 10-0 and 7-0, and then sidelined the Saskatoon Wesleys 10-5 (winning 6-0 and losing 5-4). It's of interest that the Wesleys, a first-year junior team, were managed by Charlie McCool, who had been a good friend of war hero Lyman (Hick) Abbott after whom the Abbott Cup is named.
Included in the Saskatoon lineup: Doug Bentley, Peter Leswick and Mel Hill, who would go on to earn the nickname ‘Sudden Death' during his NHL days with the Boston Bruins, Brooklyn Americans and Toronto Maple Leafs. Bentley played with the Chicago Blackhawks and New York Rangers; Leswick would play with the Bruins and New York Americans.
While Edmonton was rolling along, the Port Arthur West Ends -- they were known as the Westies -- beat the Kenora Thistles 9-8 (they tied 5-5 at Port Arthur and the Westies won 4-3 at Winnipeg, with Sammy Gigliotti scoring the winner halfway through the third period).
Kenora was coached by Sandy Sanderson and featured defenceman Walter (Babe) Pratt -- he had three goals and two assists in the 5-5 tie -- and forward Jake Milford. Years later, Milford would be at the forefront of the European invasion when, as the general manager of the Brandon Wheat Kings, he brought in Juha Widing, a stylish centre, from Finland.
The western final was all Edmonton, however. Played entirely in Winnipeg, Edmonton won 7-3 -- Carse scored three times -- and 4-0, with Fred Layetzke earning the shutout with a 47-save effort before "a handful of fans who braved a March drizzle.”
The Memorial Cup final, a best-of-three affair, opened April 3 at the Amphitheatre on Whitehall Avenue in Winnipeg.
"Four hundred curious railbirds watched the Toronto Irish go through their paces for nearly an hour at the Amphitheatre rink, and there was scarcely a spectator who was not visibly impressed with the skill and hockey ability of the easterners,” reported The Canadian Press after watching a workout.
"Not having a spare goalie along,” continued the report, "St. Michael's invited ‘Turk' Broda, net custodian of the Winnipeg Monarchs, to guard one cage. After being blazed at from all sides during the practice, ‘Turk' seemed inclined to pick St. Mike's for two straight victories.”
St. Mike's opened with a 5-0 victory over the Athletics.
"The smooth-skating, sharpshooting Irish from the Queen City downed the western champions with a torrid attack in the second period but in the first and third periods the Edmontonians put up a better attack,” reported The Canadian Press.
Kelly opened the scoring halfway through the first period, scoring on a backhand. Kelly would close the scoring early in the third period.
In between, however, is where St. Mike's won it, thanks to three power-play goals. Johnny Acheson, with two, and Jackson scored the goals.
There was one interesting incident in the second period. As CP reported: "With Bill Carse and Gordon Watt in the penalty box, Neil Colville grabbed the puck at centre ice in a brilliant effort to give Edmonton their first goal. Nick Metz gave chase. They bumped and Colville went through with only Harvey Teno in the St. Mike net to beat. Metz tore after him and threw his stick to stop the goal.
"Both went down. Metz was chased for 10 minutes and Colville drew a minor for the scuffle on the ice. Peanuts were pitched onto the ice as the fans roared and the game had to be called while the ice was swept.”
More than 4,500 fans showed up for Game 2 on April 5. And what a game they saw.
It would end with St. Mike's winning its first Memorial Cup championship (the school would win three more), thanks to a 6-4 victory. But it wasn't decided until after 20 minutes of overtime.
"The husky lads who wear the double blue of St. Michael's college in Toronto are the kings of junior hockey in Canada,” wrote Sam G. Ross, a staff writer for The Canadian Press. “The boys from the Alberta capital never quit trying, and they matched the hockey skill of the easterners all through the 80 minutes of hockey that left every player nearly exhausted.”
Kelly scored twice for St. Mike's, as he was on the Memorial Cup-winning side for the second straight season. Acheson, Metz, Drouillard and Jackson also scored.
The Colville brothers each scored once for Edmonton, as did Carse and Andy Maloney.
Maloney's goal with 30 seconds left in the third period tied the score 4-4 and forced the overtime.
"Jackson took Acheson's pass in the second overtime period to give St. Mike's all they needed for victory,” reported Ross in describing the winning goal. "Kelly made the victory certain when he rapped in St. Mike's sixth goal with only half a minute of the overtime to play.”
The victory by St. Mike's left the east and west with eight victories apiece in Memorial Cup competition.
NEXT: 1935 (Winnipeg Monarchs vs. Sudbury Cub Wolves)