Friday, May 9, 2008

The Memorial Cup: A history . . . 1942

Portage la Prairie Terriers vs. Oshawa Generals
at Winnipeg (Amphitheatre)

Guess what?
Yes, the Oshawa Generals were back in the Memorial Cup final in 1942 . . . for the fourth time in five years.
This time, the Generals were under the guidance of manager Matt Leyden with help from Charlie Conacher. They took over during the 1941-42 season after Tracy Shaw ran afoul of the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association -- he got into an altercation with a referee -- and was hit with an indefinite suspension.
Shaw's suspension would last until May 1, 1943.
The Generals featured veterans like Red Tilson, Ron Wilson, Ron Nelson and Floyd Curry. While the Generals weren't exactly strangers to Memorial Cup play, their opponents were.
The Portage la Prairie Terriers, under coach Staff-Sgt. Addie Bell and manager Jack P. Bend, emerged as champions of Manitoba and then all of western Canada.
The Terriers, playing out of a city of 6,500 people located 56 miles west of Winnipeg, featured goaltender Gordon Bell and forward Joe Bell -- yes, they were Addie's sons and both would later play in the NHL. Bend's son, John (Lin), was also on the team; in fact, he was an alternate captain and had set a Manitoba junior scoring record with 57 regular-season points. Jack McDonald, who would also play in the NHL, was team captain.
Other Terriers who would eventually play in the NHL included Bill Gooden, Don Campbell and Billy Heindl, who had seen some action with the 1940-41 Winnipeg Rangers.
The Terriers swept past the Fort William Hurricane Rangers, 7-6, 11-4 and 15-11, while the Edmonton Maple Leafs were getting past the Regina Abbotts -- the first game was tied 2-2, Edmonton won the second 5-4, Regina took the third 7-6 and Edmonton wrapped it up with a 4-0 victory in Game 4.
The best-of-five western final for the Abbott Cup opened in Winnipeg on April 6 with Portage thumping Edmonton 13-3 before 5,000 fans. McDonald led the way with four goals and Gooden added three.
The Terriers ran their winning streak to 21 games on April 8, dumping the Maple Leafs 6-4 before 3,000 fans. This time it was Joe Bell who was the hero. Despite fighting the flu, he scored four goals. The Terriers lost Heindl, perhaps their best defenceman, when he left early with an injured leg.
The Terriers completed their sweep two nights later, posting a 7-6 victory in front of 3,000 fans. Trailing 5-4 midway in the third period, Portage scored three straight goals to take the victory. It was the Terriers' 22nd straight victory -- 11 of them in the playoffs -- and sent them to the Memorial Cup final for the first time in their 10 years of existence.
The Terriers, though, were without two of their best players -- Heindl (leg) and Joe Bell (flu) were both in hospital. With Heindl out of the lineup, Portage defencemen Jack O'Reilly and Bud Ritchie played the entire 60 minutes.
"With Ritchie and O'Reilly playing their hearts out in front of me, I couldn't let them down ... those 60-minute boys really gave me wonderful protection,” offered Gordie Bell.
In the east, meanwhile, Oshawa rolled past Ottawa's St. Patrick's College, 6-4, 7-4 and 11-5, while the Montreal Royals hammered the Halifax Canadians 12-3 after which the rest of the series was cancelled.
Oshawa then swept Montreal in the best-of-seven eastern final, winning by scores of 3-2, 4-3, 7-2 and 6-4. Game 3, played in Montreal on April 6, featured a wild donnybrook near game's end. It began with Nelson and Montreal's Bob MacFarlane banging around behind one net and turned wild when defenceman Bep Guidolin rushed in to help Nelson.
The Memorial Cup would be held in Winnipeg, opening on April 14, and Heindl and Joe Bell were expected to be ready for the Terriers.
The Generals were slight favorites when the best-of-five affair opened but it wasn't long before the Terriers had turned things around.
The Terriers opened with a 5-1 victory on April 14, surprising the more than 5,000 fans with the ease in which they won.
"The battling Terriers, minus their starry winger, Joe Bell, went all out against the Generals and went into a 2-0 lead at the end of the first period, increased it to 3-0 in the second and skated off with a convincing win,” reported The Canadian Press.
It seems no one kept track of shots on goal, but Gordie Bell, just 16 years of age, was credited with almost 50 saves in a brilliant performance.
McDonald, with three, Bend and Bobby Love scored for the Terriers. Nelson had Oshawa's lone goal, that at 6:54 of the third period with Portage out front 3-0.
"That Oshawa goal cost me $27,” said Gordie Bell, pointing out that some Portage fans had put together a shutout collection for him.
"We've won 23 straight and we're not going to quit now,” Heindl said. "We can do better than we did tonight.”
Wilson, Oshawa's veteran right winger, said: "I think we will win the series and I think it will go only four games.”
Joe Bell's bout with the flu now was a bladder infection. "The kid cried when he couldn't play,” said his dad.
Of note was this addition to the CP report: "Under new Canadian Amateur Hockey Association rules, the ice was flooded in between periods, enabling the players to skate their fastest on a smooth sheet.”
The Terriers kept on rolling when they got past the Generals 8-7 before more than 5,000 fans on April 16.
Gooden was easily the star on this night, striking for five goals and setting up two others for the Terriers.
"Oh baby! I'll never be that lucky again,” said Gooden, who also found time to get into a fight with Oshawa's Jim Galbraith. The Generals defenceman left for repairs when it was over, too.
Gooden continued: "Five goals and two assists in a game is something to dream about ...”
The Terriers got all eight goals from the line of Gooden, McDonald and Wally Stefaniw. McDonald had two goals and an assist, while Stefaniw had one goal.
Tilson scored four times for Oshawa, with singles coming from Ken Smith, Ken McNaught and Wilson.
By now, Addie Bell was feeling confident.
"We're going to finish the series (in Game 3),” he stated.
Asked why he was so confident, the coach replied: "We'll have Joe back and that will give us our two regular forward lines. That will make plenty of difference.”
The Terriers had an off-day skate the following day. They didn't really work on any weaknesses because, as Addie Bell pointed out, "we haven't any.”
The Terriers' winning streak ended at 24 games when the Generals posted an 8-4 victory on April 18 before another capacity crowd of more than 5,000 fans. It was the first time in 32 games the Terriers had lost by more than one goal.
"Facing elimination after dropping the first two encounters, Charlie Conacher's eastern titlists outchecked, outskated and trimmed Terriers at their own game of a good offensive is better than cautious defensive action,” wrote Marshall Bateman.
Defenceman Bill Mortimer, who had played with the Cup-winning Winnipeg Rangers in 1941, scored three times for Oshawa. Curry, a flashy right winger, scored twice, with singles from Smith, Wilson and Guidolin.
Joe Bell marked his return with two goals for Portage. Love and Stefaniw added one each.
Conacher used Nelson, Buck Davis and Wilson to check Stefaniw, Gooden and McDonald, with two former Regina juniors, Tilson and Smith, handling Bend, Joe Bell and Love. It paid off with McDonald and Gooden held to one assist each, while Tilson found time to set up three goals.
"We'll do the same in the next game,” offered Mortimer, the Oshawa captain. "Terriers have a good team, but I think we are a little better.”
Gooden felt that the end of the winning streak would turn out to be a good thing.
"Now we don't have to worry about that 25 games straight,” he explained. "We'll play a lot better next time. I think the boys were concentrating too much on that and it sort of got them down.”
On April 20, H.A. Jones of Winnipeg arrived at the Amphitheatre at 4 a.m. He wanted to be first in line for tickets. By 9 a.m., 2,000 people were in line. When the box office opened a short time later, an estimated 4,000 people were there.
And there were more than 5,000 people in the Amphitheatre on April 21 as the Terriers whipped the Generals 8-2 to win the series, 3-1. It was the west's 13th cup victory, to 11 for the east.
The teams were tied 1-1 after the first period, with Portage taking a 3-1 lead into the third.
McDonald and Bend scored three times each for Portage, with McDonald getting three in a row in the third period. Joe Bell and Stefaniw scored once each, with the latter's goal, at 18:31 of the second period, standing up as the Memorial Cup-winner.
Tilson and Smith scored for Oshawa.
Schools closed and business establishments declared a holiday as Portage la Prairie celebrated.
"Citizens trooped to the railway station, waving flags,” reported The Canadian Press. "And downtown, the city's largest theatre congratulated coach Addie Bell and his kids by flashing colored lights on a sign board.”
"A great hockey team won,” Conacher said. "They were really flying out there.”
Tilson added: "They were just too good for us and they deserved to win.”
Guidolin, Oshawa's superb 16-year-old defenceman, offered: "Our club is OK and most of us will be together again next year, so we have plenty to look forward to.”
Time would prove him correct.

NEXT: 1943 (Winnipeg Rangers vs. Oshawa Generals)

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