Friday, May 30, 2008

The Memorial Cup: A history . . . 1961

Edmonton Oil Kings vs. Toronto St. Michael's Majors
at Edmonton (Gardens)

Toronto St. Mike's, led by defencemen Terry O'Malley, the team captain, and Barry MacKenzie, two players who would become household names with Canada's national team, swept the Moncton Beavers -- 11-2, 6-2 and 11-2 -- in the East's best-of-five final.
That put St. Mike's into the final for the first time in 14 years. And it was on to Edmonton to face the Oil Kings in the Memorial Cup final.
Coached by Father David Bauer, the Toronto team featured the Draper twins, Bruce and Dave, along with the likes of Larry Keenan, Arnie Brown, Billy MacMillan, Terry Clancy, the son of longtime NHLer King Clancy, and goaltender Gerry Cheevers. During the regular season, Cheevers had spent eight games playing on left wing. He never scored a goal, but did pick up one assist.
The Oil Kings, of coach Buster Brayshaw, had won 16 of 19 playoff games against the Lethbridge Native Sons, Trail Smoke Eaters, Regina Pats and Winnipeg Rangers.
Edmonton added defenceman Ken Stephanson from Winnipeg and Brandon centre Bryan Hextall but Brayshaw said he would only use them in the event of trouble.
Don Chiz was particularly hot for Edmonton, having scored what was then a Canadian record 29 playoff goals. But, of late, he was bothered by a sore groin.
The series opened in Edmonton Gardens on April 25. Cheevers, a 20-year-old from St. Catharines, blocked 17 shots in posting a 4-0 shutout in front of 6,674 fans.
Bruce and Dave Draper, Keenan and Andre Champagne scored for St. Mike's, which scored twice in each of the second and third periods. Paul Sexsmith in the Edmonton goal stopped 24 shots.
"He's all they said he was,” Father Bauer said of Sexsmith. "I thought we should have been ahead 3-0 by the end of the first period but for him.”
Edmonton manager Leo LeClerc assured all who would listen that the Oil Kings "could not be that bad again.”
He was right. The next time out the Oil Kings scored one goal.
Toronto won the second game 4-1 in front of 6,112 fans on April 27.
Clancy scored twice as Toronto held period leads of 1-0 and 4-1. Tom Burgess scored Edmonton's goal at 13:25 of the third period, stopping Cheevers' shutout string at 113 minutes and 25 seconds. Cheevers stopped 31 shots, seven more than Sexsmith.
Hextall and Stephanson were both in the lineup for Edmonton, while regular forwards Owen Malley and Vince Downey were left out.
"I expect to win (Game 3) and with any sort of breaks at all we're going to make this a rough series yet,” stated Brayshaw, who added that forward Dave Richardson, a teammate of Stephanson's with the Rangers, would dress for Game 3.
St. Mike's was expected to have Sonny Osborne, one of its big guns in the playoffs, in the lineup. A University of Toronto student, he had been at home writing exams.
Still, Father Bauer wasn't expecting a sweep.
"No, no,” he said. "They're much too good a team for that.”
Brayshaw was upset that his big guns had been performing more like pop guns.
"Big guns who aren't doing anything aren't much good to you in a series like this,” he said.
Chiz scored 30 goals in 30 regular-season games and added 29 in 28 playoff games. Dennis Kassian had 29 regular-season goals, while Bobby Cox had 29 playoff assists. But they hadn't done much in Games 1 and 2.
On April 29, before 6,500 fans, St. Mike's pushed the Oil Kings to the edge with a 4-2 victory.
Osborne scored three goals and set up the fourth, by Keenan. Hextall and Chiz scored for Edmonton, which trailed 1-0 and 2-1 at the period breaks.
Cheever was brilliant again. This time he made 27 saves, five more than Sexsmith.
"It's hard to believe we could play like we have in the last two games and be three games down,” Brayshaw said. "They gave their best, but it wasn't enough.
"Win, lose or draw, I'm proud of every one of them.”
The Oil Kings prolonged the inevitable on May 1 when they scored a 5-4 victory before 4,864 fans.
Burgess, Richardson, Larry Lund, Bob Marik and Roger Bourbonnais scored for Edmonton. St. Mike's got goals from Clancy, Paul Conlin, Keenan and Bruce Draper.
The scoreless first-period was highlighted by a collision between Burgess and Cheevers after which the latter left the ice for repairs to his face.
He would return to make 27 stops. Sexsmith stopped 32 shots.
"We've certainly got our backs to the wall,” Brayshaw said, "but we looked a bit more like the old Oil Kings and if we carry on this way St. Mike's are in for a good series.”
Father Bauer credited the Oil Kings, saying: "From the coach out, they wanted to win more.”
The Oil Kings continued along the comeback trail on May 3 as they won 4-2 before 6,114 fans.
Kassian finally got untracked, scoring twice. Singles came from Chiz and Richardson. Bruce Draper and Champagne scored for St. Mike's.
Sexsmith, a 20-year-old out of Winnipeg, was superb in stopping 36 shots. Cheevers blocked 19 shots.
"We have no false illusions,” Brayshaw said. "We know it will take plenty of hard work but Sexsmith is our meal ticket. If he's hot, we just might force this series to seven games.”
Father Bauer, 36, praised Sexsmith, too: "You might say that Paul was great ... he handled everything we could throw at him.”
It ended on May 5 with St. Mike's scoring a 4-2 victory before 7,159 fans.
Jack Cole, Bruce Draper, Conlin and Champagne scored for the winners. Hextall and Lund replied for Edmonton.
Cole scored the only goal of the first period, at 2:47. Hextall tied the score at 9:44 of the second, before Draper, at 12:07, and Conlin, at 15:25, gave Toronto a 3-1 lead going into the third.
Champagne upped that to 4-1 at 13:15 before Lund cut it to 4-2 at 18:11.
Conlin's goal stood up as the Memorial Cup-winning score.
This was St. Mike's fifth Memorial Cup appearance. It now had won four championships, one more than the Toronto Marlboros, Oshawa Generals and Winnipeg Monarchs.
It was the fifth straight loss for Edmonton in the national final.
The east now held a 26-17 edge in Memorial Cup championships, including 14-5 since 1943 when the present best-of-seven format was adopted.

NEXT: 1962 (Edmonton Oil Kings vs. Hamilton Red Wings)

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