Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Memorial Cup: A history . . . 1932

Winnipeg Monarchs vs. Sudbury Cub Wolves
at Winnipeg (Amphitheatre)

The 1932 Memorial Cup championship is perhaps best remembered because of the participation of Hector (Toe) Blake.
A star with the Sudbury Cub Wolves of 1931-32, Blake would go on to a memorable career, as a player and coach, with the NHL's Montreal Canadiens.
But winning the 1932 Memorial Cup was no easy task; in fact, it was in doubt right down to the final moments.
The 1932 final would feature the Cub Wolves against the Winnipeg Monarchs.
The Monarchs were coached by Harry Neil and Fred (Steamer) Maxwell. Neil had played for the Winnipeg Falcons, a team that beat the Stratford Midgets to win the 1921 Memorial Cup. Maxwell was a familiar face in junior hockey circles and had even done a fair amount of refereeing.
The Monarchs featured the likes of defenceman Robert (Pinkie) Davie, who would play with the NHL's Boston Bruins before he became a well-known and well-liked recreation director in Manitoba; captain Norm Yellowlees; goaltender Art Rice-Jones; forward George Brown; and, defenceman Cam Shewan, who would play for the 1935 world champion Winnipeg Monarchs and later become the city's fire chief.
Four of the Monarchs -- the line of Yellowlees, Brown and Archie Creighton, along with Rice-Jones -- played with the 1931 Memorial Cup-winning Elmwood Millionaires.
The Cub Wolves were coached by Sam Rothschild. Born in 1899, Rothschild played on the 1925-26 Stanley Cup-champion Montreal Maroons. He also played with the NHL's Pittsburgh Pirates and New York Americans before he suffered a career-ending knee injury.
Besides Blake, who would coach the Habs to eight Stanley Cups, Cub Wolves like Max Bennett, Adelard LaFrance Jr., and Dalton J. (Nakina) Smith went on to play in the NHL.
That this season was something special was never more evident than in mid-March when the Monarchs played the home-town Saskatoon Wesleys. At least 4,000 people were expected in the 3,400-seat Saskatoon Arena for Game 1. The series was to conclude in Winnipeg, thus the hockey fever in Saskatoon.
The Wesleys posted a 1-0 victory in Game 1, handing the Monarchs their first loss of the season (game reports did not indicate how many games the Monarchs had played to that point). Clint Smith, a future Hockey Hall of Famer, scored the game's only goal just four minutes into the first period.
The series moved to Winnipeg for the second and final game on March 28. The Monarchs, who went into the game down a goal, rebounded for a 3-1 victory to win the series, 3-2. Shewan's goal with 1:45 left in the third period put the series on ice for the Monarchs and sent them on against the Cub Wolves.
On March 21, Sudbury defeated the home-town Ottawa Shamrocks 3-2 to win the two-game, total-goal series 5-2 and advance against the Montreal Amateur Athletic Association Winged Wheelers -- they were known as the Montreal A.A.A. Winged Wheelers -- in the eastern Canada junior final.
The first game of the eastern final was played on March 25 in Montreal with the teams settling for a 1-1 tie.
One report had the Cub Wolves "famed speed crashing on the rocks of a rugged and powerful Montreal A.A.A. defence.”
That series continued in Toronto on March 28 before more than 11,000 fans at Maple Leaf Gardens.
"A fighting young band of hockeyists, Sudbury Wolves are today headed for Winnipeg in quest of the Memorial Cup and Dominion hockey championship laurels,” read the report in the Regina Leader-Post.
The Cub Wolves won the second game 3-0 -- Anthony (Ant) Healey got the shutout -- to take the series, 4-1. The final game, according to the report, was "a terrific struggle -- an epic of puck chasing and a classic of roaring hockey.”
All of which set the stage for the Memorial Cup, which would be played in the Amphitheatre in Winnipeg.
It was a best-of-three series and the Monarchs were the favorites. As one report put it: "Outweighed 10 pounds a man, the Wolves plan to upset the Monarchs with the speed and cohesive perfection of their attack.”
The series opened on March 31 with the Monarchs skating to a 4-3 victory.
"It took all the defence power the Monarchs possessed to stave off the Wolves, and all the 6,000 fans who saw them do it are wondering if they can repeat (in Game 2),” one report read.
Sudbury led 1-0 after the first period on a goal by LaFrance.
But Winnipeg scored three second-period goals to take command -- Johnny Templeton, Yellowlees and Brown pulling the trigger.
LaFrance scored again early in the third but Davie put it away six minutes into the third.
"Because they won't be slowed up, the Wolves are an even money choice with bettors to even the series,” stated one report prior to Game 2.
And even the series they did.
Sudbury posted a 2-1 victory on April 2, losing a 1-0 lead late in the third period and winning it in overtime on another goal by LaFrance.
After a scoreless first period, Sudbury took a 1-0 lead on a goal by Gordon Grant. But with less than three minutes left in the third period, Shewan got through the Wolves defence to pick up his own rebound and score the tying goal.
That set the stage for LaFrance to score the winner at 2:20 of overtime.
The game was highlighted by a brawl in the middle of the second period.
Here's what happened, according to one writer:
"Rough for a period and a half, the game settled down to a drama of straight hockey after a wild free-for-all in the second stanza. George Brown, 180-pound Monarch left winger, and Adelard LaFrance came to blows and started a general fist fight in which every player on both squads, with the exception of goaltenders, took part.
"LaFrance's stick cut Brown across the face as the two fought for the puck at centre ice. Brown pulled off his gloves and went after the Sudbury forward with his fists. Without delay their teammates dropped sticks and took sides, picked opponents and started to throw punches. It was several minutes before police quelled the player riot.”
Sudbury was without defenceman Bob McInnes and Smith. McInnes had injured an arm in the first game; Smith left Game 2 early in the first period after a bone-jarring check from Davie. Smith was left with a sore face thanks to a sprained jaw.
Smith was well enough to play in the third and deciding game on April 4.
And he scored the game- and Memorial Cup-winning goal as the Wolves, behind Healey's goaltending, posted a 1-0 victory.
"The Wolves from Sudbury, crafty beyond their years and dead game as they come, sit proudly atop the junior hockey world today,” read the story in the Regina Leader-Post. "Nakina Smith, slight Sudbury centre, who went back into action after being knocked out in the second game, placed a neat shot past Art Rice-Jones in the Winnipeg cage to climax the first Wolf raid. He picked up Adelard LaFrance's pass at the Monarch defence, swept around ‘Pinkie' Davie and drove the score shot from a few feet out.
"Ant Healey played a remarkable game for the rest of the night.”
It should be pointed out that Blake, a star throughout the season, was a substitute player in all three games of the final series.
And how did the folks of Sudbury handle all of this?
According to one report: "There was a hot time in the hometown when word was flashed from Winnipeg that Sudbury had triumphed ... Scenes reminiscent of Armistice Day were enacted as the entire populace thronged into the downtown section to shout acclaim to the courageous little hockey band.
"Even undertakers' hearses bore emblems of rejoicing.”

NEXT: 1933 (Regina Pats vs. Newmarket Redmen)

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