Monday, April 21, 2008

The Memorial Cup: A history . . . 1931

Elmwood Millionaires vs. Ottawa Primroses
at Toronto (Arena Gardens) and Ottawa (Auditorium)

The defending-champion Regina Pats were the favourites again as the series to decide the Abbott Cup and the West's berth in the Memorial Cup series opened on March 18 at the Amphitheatre in Winnipeg.

Again, the Pats were up against the Elmwood Millionaires in the two-game, total-goal affair.

The experts were of the opinion that this Pats team was "even a greater club than that which swept through all opposition to win the Dominion championship last year.”

The previous season, the Pats went up against Elmwood having shut out the Calgary Canadians in back-to-back games. And the Pats proceeded to shut out Elmwood in two straight games.

This time, Regina rode a six-game shutout streak into Winnipeg. That's right -- the Pats hadn't given up a goal in six straight playoff games.

And this series started the way the 1930 one ended -- goaltender Kenny Campbell and the Pats blanked the Millionaires 1-0 on a goal by left-winger Ralph Redding.

"Halfway through the second period,” reported the Regina Leader, "Redding tore half the length of the ice and planted a beauty behind (Art) Rice-Jones. That one tally made the Pats favorites to win the series.”

It wasn't to be, however.

The March 21 Leader ran this headline: Fighting Elmwoods Eliminate Pats in Epic Hockey Match.

And epic it was.

"The fighting Millionaires humbled Regina's widely famed Pats, defeating them 4-2 in a dramatic 20-minute overtime struggle,” reported The Leader.

Regina's Art Dowie opened the scoring early in the third period. But Elmwood led 2-1 after the third on goals by Bill McKenzie and George Brown, the latter scoring at 18:15 of the third to tie the total-goal series, 2-2.

That sent the teams into overtime -- two 10-minute periods played in their entirety.

Redding scored at 1:40 of the first extra session, only to have Kitson Massey answer for Elmwood at 9:45. And then, at 3:25 of the second overtime, Bert (Spunk) Duncanson scored what turned into the winning goal.

Elmwood won the series 4-3 on goals and advanced to meet the Ottawa Primroses in the Memorial Cup final, which opened March 23 in Toronto. The Primroses had split two games with the Niagara Falls Cataracts, winning 4-0 and losing 2-1, to win the Eastern final 5-2.

Game 1 of the best-of-three final, played before more than 5,000 fans, was won 2-0 by the Primroses, who were representing a city that had never had a Memorial Cup winner.

The first goal, late in the first period, came courtesy of the Cowley brothers, Bill and Dan. They broke away, with Bill passing to Dan, who bounced a shot off one of Rice-Jones' skates and into the net.

Bill Cowley upped the lead to 2-0 some 15 minutes into the third period, ripping a shot off Rice-Jones' pads and into the goal.

According to one report: "Bill MacKenzie, fast travelling Elmwood defence star, was the pick of the western champions and his work savored of senior calibre. (Duke) McDonald, at centre, showed bundles of ability.”

The second game, played March 25, went to Elmwood by a 2-1 count and forced a third and deciding game on March 27.

Elmwood is reported to have held a wide edge in play in the first two games "but again the close checking of the gallant Ottawa band in their defensive zone prevented the Millionaires from carrying their flashing thrusts right to the goalmouth.

"The contest was not brilliant but the close score and frequent penalties kept the fans in constant excitement.”

Duncanson opened the scoring at 3:10 of the first period. Bill Cowley tied it just over three minutes later. And after a scoreless second period it remained for Brown to net the winner for Elmwood.

"Brown picked up the disc after (Gordie) McKenzie had lost it and snapped a low shot in behind (Rick) Perley,” The Leader’s report read.

Having played the first two games in Toronto, the teams headed to Ottawa for the third and final game. This one would be played in the Ottawa Auditorium.

Elmwood wasn't too fussy about suddenly moving to Ottawa, but its management said the game was transferred by the authorities and the team was prepared to make the best of it.

Which is exactly what it did in blanking the Primroses 3-0 before 9,000 fans, the largest crowd ever to watch a game in Ottawa to that point.

"The Winnipeg Elmwoods, a battling band of sturdy youths with skating speed galore, are enthroned today as Canada's junior hockey monarchs,” began one report. "They won the title by handing the Ottawa Primroses a 3-0 defeat that left no doubt as to their superiority.”
McDonald got what turned into the Memorial Cup-winning goal when he took a pass from MacKenzie and rifled it home midway in the second period.

MacKenzie made it 2-0 before the close of the second, and Massey rounded out the scoring halfway through the third.

The game was delayed at times in the third period by unruly fans who chose to throw vegetables, crumpled newspapers and eggs onto the ice.

Elmwood's victory meant that the Memorial Cup had been won by the west seven times in the past 13 seasons.

NEXT: 1932 (Winnipeg Monarchs vs. Sudbury Cub Wolves)

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