Monday, April 28, 2008

The Memorial Cup: A history . . . 1936

Saskatoon Wesleys vs. West Toronto Nationals
at Toronto (Maple Leaf Gardens)

On the way to the Memorial Cup final, the West Toronto Nationals did some heavy damage, including a 16-4 rout of the visiting Quebec Aces on March 31 in an eastern semifinal game.
The series was never played to a conclusion. Two nights later in Quebec City, West Toronto was leading 6-4 about three-quarters of the way through an overtime period when a free-for-all resulted in the game being ended.
West Toronto then bounced the Pembroke Little Lumber Kings to qualify for the final.
Out West, coach Hobb Wilson's Saskatoon Wesleys played the Winnipeg-Elmwood Maple Leafs in a best-of-three series for the Abbott Cup and a spot in the Memorial Cup final.
Playing in Winnipeg, Saskatoon won the opener 4-2 on April 2 and then took the series with a 4-2 overtime victory before 5,000 fans on April 4.
Wilson was quoted as saying: "I think our team is just as good as any western outfit in the past years. We have a big, fast team and we're going to try awfully hard to take the mug back west.”
The best-of-three Memorial Cup series opened on April 10 in Toronto with the Nationals, "a smooth-working, powerful band of youngsters,'' according to The Canadian Press, skating to a 5-1 victory over Saskatoon in front of 4,500 fans at Maple Leaf Gardens.
"Wesleys, not as polished as the eastern Canada titlists, lacked finish around the net,” CP reported. "Many times, especially in a thrilling last period, the speedy Saskatchewan youngsters had no one to beat but Red Hall in the Nationals' nets. Their shots were either inches wide or blocked by the sorrel-top.”
Hall, who was also known as Torchy, had spent the previous summer tending goal for the Orillia Terriers, the Canadian senior lacrosse champions.
Toronto defenceman Bobby Laurent opened the scoring 41 seconds into the first period, only to have the Wesleys' captain, Paul Kowel, tie it less than a minute later.
But after that it was all Toronto, which got two goals each from Robert (Red) Heron and Carl Gamble. Left-winger Roy Conacher, a member of one of hockey's most famous families, earned an assist on one of Gamble's goals.
More from CP on Game 1: "It was one of the greatest junior battles here in several years. Both clubs backchecked fiercely but the eastern titlists' plays showed more finish when they barged past the heavy Wesley rearguards. The Saskatchewan huskies seemed to find difficulty in controlling the puck.”
It ended three nights later, on April 13, with West Toronto posting a 4-2 victory and winning its first Memorial Cup, one more than the Wesleys.
"Fighting fiercely all the way, Wesleys outplayed the Nationals through most of the hard-fought struggle and a crowd of 3,500 -- disappointingly small for a Dominion final -- will not soon forget the western huskies' dazzling attack,” reported CP. "Most of the spectators were solidly behind the Saskatoon lads.”
Saskatoon's Frank Dotten got his side on the board first with the opening period's lone goal.
Jack (Bucky) Crawford tied it for Toronto and the teams headed for the third period tied at 1-1.
Laurent and Johnny (Peanuts) O'Flaherty put Toronto out front 3-1, before Dotten narrowed the deficit to one at 3-2. It remained for Conacher to score the final goal of the series.
O'Flaherty's goal, at 14:02 of the third, stood up as the one that won the Memorial Cup.
The Nationals were coached by Clarence (Hap) Day, with Harold Ballard as manager.

NEXT: 1937 (Winnipeg Monarchs vs. Copper Cliff Redmen)

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