Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Memorial Cup: A history . . . 1947

Moose Jaw Canucks vs. Toronto St. Michael's Majors
at Winnipeg (Amphitheatre), Moose Jaw (Arena)
and Regina (Queen City Gardens)

This was a rematch of the 1945 Memorial Cup final. But while that one was played in its entirety in Toronto’s Maple Leaf Gardens, this best-of-seven series, featuring the Moose Jaw Canucks and Toronto St. Michael's Majors, was played in the west -- in Winnipeg, Moose Jaw and Regina.
Joe Primeau was still the coach of St. Mike's. Former Regina Pats star Ken Doraty was running the Moose Jaw operation.
Edmonton also had wanted to play host to a game in the final but that never happened, perhaps because Primeau said he didn't want his team "to be any part of a travelling circus.“
The Canucks earned their berth by winning a thrilling Abbott Cup final series from the Brandon Elks. This best-of-seven affair actually didn't end until the eighth game, won 6-4 by Moose Jaw before 6,320 fans in Regina's Queen City Gardens.
Brandon actually won the first two games of the series and tied the third. When the next two games were split, Brandon was one point from winning the series but that one point proved terribly elusive.
The Memorial Cup's best-of-seven final opened in Winnipeg on April 15 with St. Mike's hammering Moose Jaw 12-3.
"Heralded as the smoothest team to come out of the east in years, Toronto St. Mike's lived up to all the nice words said about them by waltzing to a 12-3 triumph over Moose Jaw Canucks,” wrote Scotty Melville in the Regina Leader-Post. "A milling crowd that had literally clawed its way to the wickets in an all-day demand for pasteboards saw a disappointing Moose Jaw outfit hold on for one brief period before the magic sticks of the eastern powerhouse went to work with a vengeance.”
The first period was very loosely played and ended with the Toronto lads out front 4-3. After that it was no contest -- the Canucks were outscored 2-0 in the second and 6-0 in the third.
Toronto's line of Ed Sandford, Les Costello and Fleming Mackell owned this game.
As Melville wrote: "(They) passed the disc around like a hot biscuit to collect a baker's dozen in scoring points.”
Sandford, the centre and team captain, set up five goals. Costello, who would later play with the Toronto Maple Leafs but gain more renown as the man behind the Flying Fathers, scored three times. Mackell, who would go on to a fine NHL career, had two goals and three assists.
Ed Harrison added two Toronto goals, with singles coming from Bob Paul, Benny Woit, Rudy Migay, John McLellan and Leonard (Red) Kelly.
Harvey Stein, Herbie Lovett and Angus Juckes scored for Moose Jaw.
"St. Mike's have a good team,” Moose Jaw's Metro Prystai said, "but we can do better. They're very fast and play a rougher style of hockey than Brandon.”
The teams then headed for Moose Jaw, where Game 2 was to be played on April 17. Only the site was different.
"They donned their fighting trunks and went out punching, but Ken Doraty's Moose Jaw Canucks simply didn't have enough on the ball as they yielded a 6-1 edge to the polished Toronto St. Mike's in a robust, exhausting struggle,” read one report.
Sandford struck for three goals as Toronto grabbed period leads of 3-0 and 5-0. Harrison scored twice and Costello added the other.
Vic Kreklewetz had Moose Jaw's lone goal in front of 3,700 fans who witnessed the first national final game ever to be played in Moose Jaw.
Wrote Vince Leah of the Winnipeg Tribune: "Joe (Primeau) has the softest job in the world. My four-year-old son could lead St. Mike's to the Memorial Cup. That's how competent the youthful easterners are.”
Game 3 was played in Regina's Queen City Gardens in front of 5,959 fans. It was started but never finished.
St. Mike's was awarded an 8-1 victory in a game that was halted because of bottle-throwing fans with six minutes 55 seconds left in the third period.
Moose Jaw was able to hang in there until the game's midway point. In fact, Moose Jaw took a 1-0 lead on a goal by Amos Wilson into the game's second half.
Harrison had three more goals for Toronto. Ray Hannigan, with two, Costello, Paul and Migay also scored for Toronto, with Migay adding five assists.
But the talk was all about incidents involving fans.
The first occurred with less than two minutes left in the second period. It followed a Moose Jaw penalty.
"The remaining time was carried into the final session while sweepers collected the fragments of broken glass,” wrote Melville. "The hoodlums took over again after seven minutes in the third period, another Moose Jaw penalty bringing several bottles over the boards. One Canuck and two players from the Toronto club were struck glancing blows by the missiles.
"The ice was cleared, but again bottles and other odds and ends were heaved to the ice while the referees tried vainly to face off in the southeast corner of the rink. After nearly 15 minutes delay, the face off took place at the Moose Jaw blue line. A few minutes later another bottle came out from the stands and Al Pickard, vice-president of the CAHA, then gave warning over the loudspeaker that the game would be called and awarded to St. Mike's if anything further was thrown. Seconds later, just as play started and less than seven minutes of time left, the ice again was littered and the officials stopped the game and gave the victory to the collegians.
"The ice was swept four times and half an hour in all was needed to clean up the debris. Hundreds of fans, ashamed and disgusted at the stupidity of the irresponsible few, streamed away from the national final long before it was halted.”
Vic Lindquist of Winnipeg and Ken Mullins of Montreal were the referees involved.
In an editorial headlined "We hang our heads in shame” Dave Dryburgh of The Leader-Post wrote: "In Brooklyn they'd call it a rhubarb, but Regina simply branded it the most disgraceful and humiliating episode in the city's sports history. Saturday's Memorial Cup shambles at the Gardens gave Regina a pair of the blackest eyes you ever saw.
"Thousands of sportsmen from all over Saskatchewan were at first disgusted by the bottle-tossing demonstration, then became boiling mad to think that a handful of scatter-brained hoodlums could cause such scenes and break up a national hockey final.
"This was worse than the Stanley Cup riot we saw in Chicago in 1944. It was definitely more vicious.”
Three nights later attendance in Regina was just 2,186. The fans saw St. Mike's wrap it up with a 3-2 victory.
The Toronto boys scored the only goal of the first period and added another early in the second. But Moose Jaw scored before the second was up and then tied the game early in the third.
St. Mike's won it all when Sandford scored later in the third period.
Mackell and Paul also scored for St. Mike's, with Stein and Lovett scoring for Moose Jaw.
It was a sad ending to the junior career of Moose Jaw goaltender Bev Bentley. He had appeared in three of the last four Memorial Cups -- one with the Trail Smoke Eaters and two with Moose Jaw -- and wasn't on a winning team.

NEXT: 1948 (Port Arthur West End Bruins vs. Barrie Flyers)

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