Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Memorial Cup: A history . . . 1925

Regina Pats vs. Aura Lee
at Toronto (Arena Gardens)

By the spring of 1925, the CAHA had decided to do away with the two-game, total-goal system. Instead, the CAHA ruled, the champions of East and West would meet in a best-of-three series.
That first series featured the Regina Pats and Aura Lee in the Toronto Arena Gardens.
Al Ritchie, the Pats' manager and coach, reported three of his players weren't up to par -- forward Sil Acaster was sporting a bandage to protect a head wound suffered in the last game of the western final against Fort William, forward Ike Morrison and defenceman Ken Doraty were fighting colds.

It was important that Morrison be healthy -- his assignment was to check Aura Lee sniper Johnny McPherson, a 19-year-old right winger, whose 17-year-old brother, Shrimp, centred his line.
Aura Lee was without defenceman Yip Foster, who suffered two cut tendons in a leg during the Eastern final against the Owen Sound Greys. Foster, at the age of 17, was already being referred to as "the coming all-round Canadian athlete, succeeding Lionel Conacher.”

William Marsden, the Aura Lee manager, said he was looking for a tough series.
"They're a clean-cut crowd of athletes, officered by good sportsmen,” he said after watching the Pats practice. "I look for a strenuous series. Their defence is what impresses me; they seem to have an edge on us in that department.”

"I like the solid, chunky build of the Pats,” said W.W. Davidson, an executive member of the Ontario Hockey Association. "Aura Lee figures the Pats can't use their body, but I have a feeling that every man out there can show the eastern champs something in that respect.”

Of interest was that Aura Lee did not include one right-handed shot on its roster.
Game 1, on March 23, was played before about 3,000 fans. The teams were scoreless through two periods before Acaster scored at 4:05 of the third period. It appeared Regina had it wrapped up, but, according to the Regina Leader, Johnny McPherson "dribbled a mean shot at (goaltender Jack) Cunning. The rubber bounced and jumbled over his feet.”

The Pats won it 2-1 on Frank Ingram's goal just 37 seconds into overtime.

Norman B. Albert reported to The Leader that "(Dick) Gossett, the Aura Lee defence player, really scored it against his own team. He turned Ingram's sharp pass out into the Toronto goal and from then on the Pats, aided by Cunning's uncanny ability to outguess the Toronto snipers and barrels of obvious luck, held on until the final gong brought victory to the plucky westerners.”

"We ought to get better Wednesday night,” Ritchie said, a huge smile plastered across his face.

One story out of Regina had the staff of the local Ford Motors plant collecting $200 "against a similar sum raised by the staff of the head office of the firm in Toronto. And the local men, all ardent boosters for the Pats, aren't losing any sleep over the chance of dropping the coin.”

The Pats won it all on March 25 when they downed Aura Lee 5-2 in a game marred by a second-period brawl.
Aura Lee led 1-0 when Reg McIlwaine was penalized for tripping Acaster. With McIlwaine in the penalty box, the Pats scored twice and never looked back. Although the game was later tied 2-2, the Pats dominated.

"The game was the fastest and most brilliant junior exhibition played in Toronto this season,” Albert reported.
The donnybrook started when Shrimp McPherson and Doraty began fighting and "before it was over every player on both teams including the subs was out on the ice standing toe to toe exchanging blows.

"The police finally went into the affair and when it was all over Shrimp McPherson and Doraty were in the penalty box, having a good laugh and apologizing to each other.”

The play-by-play, which in those days often made its way into the local newspapers, put it like this:

"Listen, there have been donnybrooks in professional and amateur hockey, but never anything like that which fell as a thunderbolt. Disgraceful is no word for it. Shrimp McPherson and Doraty got into a jam in front of the Regina goal and started punching one another. Then there was a general mixup that had the bloody battle of Bull Run walloped to a fizzle. Man for man, the teams picked one another and set to punching away their facial expressions.
"Just when it was pretty near over, Billy Gibson, the sub Aura Lee netminder, jumped over the boards and put Acaster down with a punch from behind. The melee started all over again. Three Aura Lee players made an onset on Acaster, though the western star knocked a couple down. There were eight different groups of battlers lying on the ice and then six policemen jumped onto the sheet.
"Big Jack Cunning, handicapped by his pads, stood up and traded punch for punch with any man that wanted to come at him. McPherson and Doraty, the two principals, drew major fouls for their share. The fight left both teams nervous and excited.“

Regina got two goals from Doraty and singles from Jack Cranstoun, Morrison and Acaster. Johnny McPherson and Alec Parks scored for Aura Lee.
The Memorial Cup winner? It came from Cranstoun, breaking a 2-2 tie at 16:01 of the second period.

NEXT: 1926 (Calgary Canadians vs. Queen's University Queens)

  © Design byThirteen Letter

Back to TOP