As the preseason schedule winds down, today we look at some game results, the North Stars finalize their roster and one of the great hockey writers, Jack Berry of the Detroit Free Press, makes some predictions for this historic 1967-68 season. Other newspapers around the National Hockey League cities also provided us with their season previews with opening night just a few days away.
Bower Stymies Rangers
It looks like Johnny Bower and Bruce Gamble are going to form a formidable goaltending tandem this season for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Last night it was Bower who put in a fine effort as the Leafs edged the New York Rangers 3-2 last night at Maple Leaf Gardens before 15,655 enthusiastic fans.
Most observers believe that Toronto will have a rough time of it in goal this year after losing veteran Terry Sawchuk in the Expansion Draft. Bower is another year older and Gamble, an honest journeyman, is no Terry Sawchuk. But then again, no one is.
So far in the preseason, Bower and Gamble have given every indication that they will confound the so-called experts this season. Earlier this week the two netminders had a streak of 128 minutes and 46 seconds where they hadn’t allowed a goal. Last night against the Rangers Bower was spectacular, going all the way in the 3-2 win.
Leafs led 3-0 after two periods but it was Bower’s magic that had them ahead. He was particularly great in the middle frame when the Rangers poured 16 shots at the Toronto goal but were unable to beat the soon to be 43-year-old goalkeeper.
Toronto goals were scored by Ron Ellis, Wayne Carleton and Gerry Meehan.
Bower had no chance on the two New York scores in the final 20 minutes. Defensive lapses left him unprotected, giving Rangers Red Berenson and Bob Nevin unimpeded chances at the goal.
Penguins Finish 7-1-1
Pittsburgh Penguins finished their preseason schedule with 7-1-1 record after defeating the Boston Bruins Oklahoma City Central Professional League farm team 3-1 at Brantford, Ontario.
Penguins goals were scored by Ab McDonald, Earl Ingarfield and Val Fonteyne, all solid NHL veterans. Brian Bradley had the only Oklahoma goal.
Penguins split the goaltending duties between veterans Hank Bassen and Les Binkley, who will form the club’s netminding tandem this season. For Binkley, it was his first game action in 10 days, having been on the sidelines with back woes.
After the game, Penguins general manager Jack Riley said that young goalie Joe Daley, the team’s first pick in the Expansion Draft, was being sent to the American Hockey League Baltimore Clippers, where he will get a chance to play regularly.
Riley also said that Eastern Hockey League veteran puckstopper Marv Edwards had signed a professional contract with the Penguins. Riley is in the process of finding an AHL or Western Hockey League team to which Edwards can be loaned.
Kings, Blues Wrap up Preseason
The Los Angeles Kings and St. Louis Blues wrapped up their preseason schedules with a 3-3 tie at the St. Louis Arena. The Blues had a 3-0 lead in this one, but a furious third-period comeback by the Kings earned them the tie.
Blues had a goal in each period. Larry Keenan scored in the first, followed by a Fred Hucul goal in the second period. Jim Roberts’ goal early in the final frame had the Blues up by three before the Kings mounted their comeback.
Bryan Campbell started the Los Angeles charge with a goal at 6:11. Kings then got a pair of power play goals by Bill Flett and Brian Smith to pull even.
Terry Sawchuk handled the first 40 minutes in goal for the Kings. Wayne Rutledge played the third. Seth Martin went all the way in goal for St. Louis. He faced 15 shots in that final period, and couldn’t be blamed on any of the Kings markers.
Abel Says Crozier the Key
Jack Berry of the Detroit Free Press, one of the NHL’s premium hockey writers, gave his predictions for the league’s upcoming season and in particular the Detroit Red Wings.
Berry likes Detroit’s chances, but only if goalie Roger Crozier returns to the form that made him an all-star in his first two big league seasons. If Crozier has a solid season and avoids missing time with injuries, Berry has the Red Wings pegged for fourth place and a playoff spot.
Detroit general manager-coach Sid Abel spoke to Berry and summarized how he sees the Wings season unfolding:
“We’re better than we were a year ago. We’re better condition-wise after the best camp we’ve had in years. But the big question mark as to whether we’re a contender or we flounder is the guy in nets.
“The automatic answer after we missed the playoffs last season was that he didn’t get much help from the defence. It’s easy to blame the defence.
“But there were some games when it wasn’t the defence’s fault. The goalkeeper has to come up with those big saves and we weren’t getting them.
“Roger is capable of it, though. We know that. He had a good camp. He’s talking a lot on the ice and that helps the defence. He seems to have a little different attitude, too.
“He wasn’t always a real good practice goalie but he’s worked harder and I think it’s part of the Baz influence. Baz was a goalie and he’s always encouraging Roger.”
Abel was referring to assistant coach Baz Bastien. Crozier and backup goalie George Gardner both played for the former NHL netminder during stints at the Red Wings’ Pittsburgh farm club where Bastien was coach and performed well under his tutelage.
Berry feels that after all the changes teams made thanks to expansion, the Montreal Canadiens are the class of the Eastern Division. He says the Habs’ defence is the best, youngest and deepest in hockey. He ranks Chicago as second, regressing slightly because of the size they surrendered in the big trade with Boston.
Berry says Toronto will be third, playing well enough to get into the playoffs comfortably. He notes that for the Leafs the season begins in the post-season. He says that Toronto has some good youngsters in Mike Walton, Jim McKenny and Brian Conacher.
With Detroit finishing fourth, Berry has New York and Boston on the outside looking in at the playoffs, in that order.
New York has changed less than any of the established clubs and Berry feels that goalie Ed Giacomin is a huge question mark.
As for Boston, Berry says that they were hurt by expansion more than any other team. He cites the loss of defenceman Gilles Marotte (to Chicago), Joe Watson and Bob Woytowich as crucial.
Berry admits that predicting the expansion division is a real guessing game. He rates St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Minnesota as the best of the new teams, in that order. He call California solid defensively and goes along with just about everyone else who says the Los Angeles Kings will be the new section’s doormats.
North Stars Set Roster
The Minnesota North Stars have announced the roster the club will employ to open their first NHL season Wednesday night at St. Louis. Twenty players were named to the squad, including three goaltenders, six defencemen, four centres, four right wingers and three left wings.
In goal will be Cesare Maniago, Gary Bauman and Carl Wetzel. Wetzel’s inclusion is a bit of a surprise. He was ticketed for the Stars Memphis CPHL farm team but his solid play in preseason has earned him a longer look with the varsity. Maniago had a pedestrian camp and will have to work hard to keep the starting berth.
The defence will be made up of Bob Woytowich, Jean-Guy Talbot, Elmer Vasko, Pete Goegan, Mike McMahon and Don Johns. Goegan’s appearance on the list is possibly a hint that the suspended rearguard and general manager Wren Blair could be close on agreeing on a contract.
Up front, the forward lines will look like this: Ray Cullen centres the number one unit between Dave Balon and Bill Goldsworthy. Murray Hall is the line two pivot with Wayne Connelly and Ted Taylor on the wings. The third threesome has diminutive Andre Boudrias in the middle between Parker MacDonald and Billy Collins. Len Lunde and Bill Masterton are available for spot duty.
- Boston Bruins bombed the Hershey Bears of the AHL 7-3 in a game played at Hershey. Seven players shared in the Boston scoring parade, with John McKenzie, Phil Esposito, Derek Sanderson, Eddie Shack, Ron Murphy and Johnny Bucyk each netting a goal. The game was staged as a benefit for former Hershey goalie Claude Dufour, whose career was ended last season because of an eye injury.
- Chicago Black Hawks had no trouble dispatching the Portland Buckaroos of the WHL 5-0 at Victoria, B.C. Dave Dryden put in a solid effort in goal to record the shutout for the Hawks. Chicago scorers were the Maki brothers, Chico and Wayne, Ken Wharram, Bobby Hull and Eric Nesterenko.
- Philadelphia Flyers nipped their Quebec Aces AHL farm team by a 4-3 score in a game that ended in a wild brawl at Quebec City. Flyers defenceman Ed Van Impe, who injured Quebec forward Simon Nolet in the first period by spearing him, fought with the Aces Roger Pelletier as the game ended. It took 10 minutes for order to be restored.
- Buffalo Bisons blanked Cleveland Barons 2-0 before over 500 fans at Erie, Pa. Mike Labadie and Guy Trottier took care of the scoring as Ed Chadwick was solid in goal to register the shutout.