Friday, April 11, 2008

The Memorial Cup: A history . . . 1921

Winnipeg Falcons vs. Stratford Midgets
at Toronto (Arena Gardens)

The Regina Victorias, or Vics as everyone called them, left for Winnipeg on March 14.

Having dropped the Calgary Beavers 11-6 in a two-game, total-goal series, the Vics were on their way to meet the Winnipeg Falcons of manager/coach Connie Neal.
The first game of the Regina-Winnipeg series was played March 15.
"Displaying remarkable form against a team that outweighed them in every position the Winnipeg Falcons, defenders of the Abbott Cup, emblematic of the junior championship of Western Canada, took the Regina Victorias into camp by a 5-3 score,” reported the Regina Leader.

The Falcons led 2-0 and 3-2 by periods.
Two nights later, on March 17, the Falcons wrapped it up, posting a 3-1 victory to win the series, 8-4.
That victory sent the Falcons on against the Fort William YMCA in the Western Canadian final.
The Falcons featured players like defenceman Harry Neil, who would later coach the Winnipeg Monarchs to the 1932, 1935 and 1937 Memorial Cup finals, winning the latter two titles. Another player, Art Somers, was a Falcons substitute who would go on to play seven seasons in the NHL with the Chicago Blackhawks and New York Rangers.

The Falcons won the first game in Fort William 9-3 on March 20.
"The match was played in slush that interfered with the speed of both teams,” read one report.

One night later, the Falcons wrapped it up with an 11-4 victory, giving them the series by an aggregate of 20-7.
While the Falcons were dominating the west, the Stratford Midgets, featuring Howie Morenz, were romping to the eastern title, an honor they wrapped up on March 19 by beating Lower Canada College, the Quebec champions, 13-5 in a sudden-death game.
And so it was on to Toronto for the Falcons, a team that had been formed from the Young Men's Lutheran Club of the Icelandic Lutheran Church, the forerunner of junior hockey in Manitoba.
The Falcons came through, too, although not without surviving a real scare.

The series opened on March 24 with the Falcons posting a 9-2 victory. You would have thought it was in the bag.
It wasn't.
On March 27, Stratford, with Morenz scoring three times, roared to a 7-2 victory. But that wasn't quite enough and the Falcons won 11-9 on total goals.

"From the commencement of the game, the Midgets forced the pace,” read one report. "By close back-checking and heavy body-checking they stopped the rushes of the speedy westerners and bit by bit backed them into defensive tactics. At the end of the second period they had worn them to a shadow of the team which won in such an outstanding fashion Thursday night. In the third period, the Falcons got four shots on Ruston, while the Midgets bombarded the Falcons' net minutes at a time. All they could get past Comfort was three.

"(Wally) Fridfinnson, Somers and (Sam) McCallum were much in the limelight for the Falcons, though the bulk of the glory should go to (Freddie) Comfort. For Stratford, (Frank) Carson, Roth and Richards played excellent hockey, the former turning in one of the finest games of his career and being in a very large measure responsible for the great showing of Stratford.“

NEXT: 1922 (Regina Patricias vs. Fort William War Veterans)

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