Thursday, May 17, 2012

1966 Memorial Cup

Edmonton Oil Kings vs. Oshawa Generals
at Toronto (Maple Leaf Gardens)

The Edmonton Oil Kings made it seven Memorial Cup finals in a row when they eliminated the Estevan Bruins from the Abbott Cup final in six games.
This was the last Abbott Cup final before major junior hockey came to the Prairies in the form of the Western Canada Junior Hockey League.
The Abbott Cup final was a clash of hockey legends, what with the Bruins managed by Scotty Munro and coached by Ernie (Punch) McLean, and the Oil Kings coached by Ray Kinasewich and managed by Bill Hunter.
Following the series, the Oil Kings, featuring the likes of Garnet (Ace) Bailey, Al Hamilton, Bob Falkenberg and goaltender Don (Smokey) McLeod, announced they would add three Bruins to their roster for the national final – forwards Jim Harrison, Ross Lonsberry and Ted Hodgson. Hunter also said he would take Weyburn Red Wings goaltender Don Caley as a replacement for Pete Neukomm who had suffered a fractured cheekbone in a western semifinal game against the Fort William Canadians.
Edmonton had spent the season playing in the Alberta Senior Hockey League, there being no junior league in Alberta. In fact, the Oil Kings tied the Drumheller Miners for the provincial senior championship.
The Oil Kings' opposition this time around was provided by the Oshawa Generals, featuring 15-year-old defenceman Bobby Orr, Wayne Cashman, Danny O'Shea, goaltender Ian Young, Billy Heindl, Barry Wilkins and Nick Beverley. The Generals were coached by Bep Guidolin and managed by Wren Blair.
Oshawa, which finished fourth in the Ontario Junior Hockey League, had eliminated the Shawinigan Falls Bruins in the eastern final, winning the best-of-five affair in four games.
All games in this national final series were scheduled for Maple Leaf Gardens – the last Memorial Cup series to be played there.
The politicking began early as Blair announced he would protest (1) the presence of the Oil Kings because they didn't play in a junior league; and, (2) the inclusion of three Estevan players on Edmonton's roster.
Blair admitted he didn't expect success but "I'm going to file them anyway.''
Edmonton, which had lost five of the last six Memorial Cup finals, opened the series on May 4 by thrashing Oshawa 7-2, outshooting the Generals 52-20 in the process. Attendance was 4,310.
Centre Ross Perkins scored two shorthanded goals for Edmonton. And you can bet Blair was livid as the three Estevan players all figured in the scoring – Harrison had a goal and two assists, Lonsberry had a goal, and Hodgson had two assists. Galen Head, Hamilton and Bailey added singles. Hamilton also had two assists.
Orr, who dazzled with his rink-length dashes and had at least 10 shots on goal, and Chris Hayes scored for Oshawa, which trailed 4-1 and 5-2 at the period breaks.
Six players picked up fighting majors six minutes into the third period, the altercation starting when Harrison crashed into Orr, after which he was immediately confronted by Oshawa's Bill White. One of the ensuing fights featured Orr, who scored an easy decision over Dave Rochefort.
Kinasewich was upset and accused the Generals of head-hunting.
"I like a rough, hard-checking game,” Kinasewich said, "and if they can't take it, then let them go home.”
Guidolin countered: "We didn't see one good check all night, and you can tell them to stop sending bushers after Orr.”
Oshawa tied the series on May 6, riding a three-goal performance from O'Shea to a 7-1 victory before 7,210 fans, most of them apparently from the Oshawa area.
O'Shea and Cashman had gone into the final with 21 playoff goals apiece.
Cashman, Hayes, Heindl and Ron Dussiaume also scored for the Generals. Cashman also set up three goals as the Generals took period leads of 2-0 and 5-0.
Defenceman Doug Barrie scored Edmonton's lone goal.
Orr was used sparingly. He was on the limp with a groin injury he said he suffered during practice the previous week. Hamilton, Edmonton's top defenceman, was nursing a sore tailbone and hardly played in the third period.
When this one was over, Hunter pointed a finger at referee Frank Daigneault of Montreal.
When a Maple Leaf Gardens publicist said "we'll get a crowd of 14,000 here (for Game 3),” Hunter added: "Yeah, and we'll get a new referee.”
"He's going to lose control,” Kinasewich added, "and that won't be good for the players or the fans.”
After Game 2, Hunter announced the Oil Kings would use Caley in Game 3 only to be informed by the CAHA that he was ineligible.
After the Generals won Game 3 by a 6-2 count on May 8 before 7,365 fans, Hunter was again all over Daigneault.
"Daigneault must have signed a contract with Oshawa before the series,” Hunter said. "Generals' defencemen were stopping shots and pulling the puck into their bodies as they fell, and Daigneault, only five feet away, wasn't calling them.”
The Generals, with Orr playing only on the power play, got two goals from O'Shea and singles from Cashman, George Babcock, Bill Little and Dussiaume. Perkins and Ron Walters scored for the Oil Kings.
Kinasewich yanked McLeod and sent in Jim Knox after the first period with Oshawa leading 4-0.
"You don't expect that a fellow who's played well all season will choke up all of a sudden,” Kinasewich said. "But that's what he's done.
"Oshawa's not that good. We've played better teams than that all season. And this is the first time we've played two bad games in a row this year.”
Guidolin fired back: "You can tell 'em we've got a few surprises for (Game 4). We got the same team.”
The Oil Kings held a team meeting on the off day.
"We've just had a revival meeting,” Hunter said. "And we've given our lads the message – God help Oshawa in the next game.”
McLeod was back at his best in Game 4 as he backstopped the Oil Kings to a 5-3 victory on May 11 before 5,761 fans. That tied the series 2-2.
Trailing 3-2 going into the third period, the Oil Kings exploded for three goals, the winner coming at 16:46 when Hamilton went coast-to-coast and set up Head. Perkins followed with an empty-net goal to wrap it up.
Lonsberry, Ron Anderson and Rochefort also scored for the Oil Kings. Hayes, Cashman and O'Shea scored for Oshawa.
Orr took a regular shift for two periods, but took his gear off after that. He aggravated his groin injury when checked into the boards by Perkins.
"We blew it,” Guidolin said. "We didn't skate. You gotta skate. If you don't, you're dead.”
Kinasewich thought it was Edmonton's turn.
"Don't you think we were due?” he said. "We couldn't get much worse than in the second and third games.”
The Oil Kings wrapped up the Memorial Cup posting two victories in two days – 7-4 on May 14 and 2-1 on May 15.
Craig Cameron had three goals and an assist to lead Edmonton in Game 5. Perkins added two goals and four helpers, with Falkenberg and Hodgson also scoring. Heindl, Dussiaume, Cashman and Hayes scored for Oshawa.
In Game 6, it was two of the Estevan players – Harrison and Hodgson – who provided the victory.
For starters, Harrison put two players – Heindl and Paul Cadieux – out of the game with injuries after hard checks.
Heindl opened the scoring on a power play at 9:10 of the first period. Harrison tied it on a 30-footer at 17:02 of the second period and Hodgson won it with a blistering slap shot at 6:47 of the third.
Both goaltenders – Young and McLeod – stopped 37 shots in front of 5,018 fans.
The hero in the end was McLeod, the goaltender who had been so severely criticized in the early going.
"You are looking at the finest goalie in junior hockey,” Kinasewich said.
"When he gets that look in his eye,” Hunter said, "you just know that nobody's gonna beat him.”
Guidolin offered: "They owe it all to the goalie, who they said choked. What are they saying about him now?”
They were saying they had been misquoted earlier in the series.
This was the first time a western team had won the championship while playing in an eastern rink since the Port Arthur West End Bruins did it in 1948.

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