Today we review the five games played in the National Hockey League last night. We’ll also provide the highlights of an interesting interview by Lou Cauz of the Globe and Mail with Oakland Seals owner Barry Van Gerbig.
Bower Misses Shutout But Gets Assist
Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Johnny Bower celebrated his 44th birthday in style last night. He backstopped the Leafs to a 6-1 victory over the Oakland Seals in California. He just missed registering the shutout, but he did earn an assist on Toronto’s fourth goal, by Allan Stanley, in the second period.
Between the first and second periods, Seals management presented Bower with an oversized birthday cake and a bottle of champagne. Bower graciously accepted the gift, but declined to partake of the giant dessert during the game. He quipped that he counted the candles and saw only 42 on the cake.
As for the champagne, that will have to wait until the Leafs return to Toronto. The Maple Leafs have a club policy calling for a $500 fine for drinking alcohol on road trips.
The game itself, played before only 4,749 in Oakland, was not a classic display of hockey. Toronto coach Punch Imlach was not at all happy with his team’s performance, despite the lopsided score:
“Let’s face it. The score flattered us. We didn’t play that well and would have been skinned alive by one of the teams in the ‘old’ section. One thing I can’t condone is mediocrity. We’ll have to play better in Los Angeles. They skate faster than the Seals and have more power.”
The Seals came out flying in this one, and could have run the Leafs right out of the rink in the first period. They fired 16 shots at Bower in the opening 20 minutes and if not for his wizardry between the pipes, the game might have been over before the Leafs eventually found their legs.
Thanks to Bower’s work, the Leafs did get the only goal of the first, Ron Ellis’ seventh of the season at 13:43.
Toronto exploded for three goals in the first 8:02 of the middle frame to take a 4-0 lead. But the score belied the actual play. Oakland once again had 16 shots at Bower, who managed to get in front of 15 of them. The only shot to get by him came from Seals defenceman Autry Erickson. Erickson somehow found himself in front of the Toronto goal during a scramble and poked a loose puck past Bower, who was tied up on the play.
Murray Oliver and Jim Pappin each scored a pair of goals for Toronto. Ellis and Stanley had the others. Oliver’s first marker was the 150th of his NHL career.
Former Toronto defenceman Kent Douglas, looked upon to be one of the Seals’ mainstays this season, disappeared from the Oakland bench after the first period. Red Burnett of the Toronto Star asked Seals coach Bert Olmstead if Douglas had been injured:
“Only his feelings I hope. He’s not as important to this team as he thinks he is. I’ll let it go at that.”
Assistant coach Gordie Fashoway shed a little more light on Douglas’ situation:
“If Kent doesn’t pare a little suet off his hide, we’ll take a little more out of his pocket. He’s overweight and it shows in his play. “
If Imlach was unhappy with his charges, Olmstead was downright livid with the Seals’ effort:
“That kind of a display was no good for hockey and was unfair to the people who came in to root for us. These guys don’t seem to appreciate the chance they’re getting at the NHL level.”
Olmstead would neither confirm or deny word that he had fined each of his players $100 for the dismal effort.
Toronto extended their unbeaten string to five games. The two points moved them into first place in the NHL’s Eastern Division.
Seals now have gone 12 games without tasting victory, earning only three ties during that stretch.
Sanderson Paces Bruins
Rookie centre Derek Sanderson scored a pair of goals to lead the Boston Bruins to a 6-3 win over the New York Rangers in a fight-filled match at Madison Square Garden.
Sanderson’s two goals were both reflective of the hockey savvy that the 21-year-old seems to possess. Jumping directly to the NHL from junior hockey in Niagara Falls, Sanderson plays with the confidence and aplomb of a man many years his senior.
His first goal came while killing a penalty at 9:07 of the second period. Bruins defenceman Don Awrey was in the sin bin when he was sent in alone by Eddie Westfall to make the score 3-1.
Sanderson’s second goal was the killer. The youngster won the faceoff to open the third period, pushing the puck forward instead of drawing it back. He skated in over the Ranger blue line and stole it from New York rearguard Arnie Brown. He fired a sudden shot past a bewildered Ranger netminder Ed Giacomin. Only six seconds had elapsed. That was the game, for all intents and purposes.
Other Boston scorers were Ken Hodge, Johnny Bucyk, Bobby Orr and Tommy Williams. Vic Hadfield had a pair for the Rangers, with Phil Goyette adding the other.
Two fights involving the Rangers Reggie Fleming marred the game. Fleming, a former Boston forward, took on Bruins defenceman Ted Green in a spirited bout in the second period. Each received seven minutes in penalties for that one.
In the third period, Fleming went after Boston goalkeeper Gerry Cheevers. Cheevers had been aggressive all night, freely dispensing instant justice by way of his goal stick and blocking glove. Fleming finally had enough and decided to give Cheevers a taste of his own medicine. Before much could be accomplished, Boston’s Awrey entered the fray and engaged Fleming.
Both Fleming and Awrey received majors for fighting, while Cheevers was assessed a minor. If there were ever such a thing as instigating a fracas, Cheevers could certainly have been accused of that.
Pens, Flyers Tie One On
Ab McDonald’s goal with just less than five minutes to play lifted the Pittsburgh Penguins into a 1-1 tie with the Philadelphia Flyers last night in Pittsburgh. McDonald grabbed the rebound off an Andy Bathgate shot and poked it through a mad scramble in front of Flyers goalie Bernie Parent at the 15:08 mark of the third period.
McDonald’s goal was a power play marker, coming while Philly defenceman Ed Van Impe was off for interference.
Bill Sutherland scored the only Philadelphia goal, his fourth of the season. That came at 14:10 of the second period. Sutherland deflected Lou Angotti’s 25-footer past Pittsburgh goalie Les Binkley, who had no chance on the play.
Binkley played yet another magnificent game for Pittsburgh. He made 41 saves during the game. Parent was nearly as good with 33 stops on the night.
Only 4,719 fans turned out at the Civic Arena for the contest.
Hawks Nip Habs
Stan Mikita seems to finally be rounding into shape for the Chicago Black Hawks. Mikita went into last night’s game against Montreal Canadiens with only one goal this season. The slick centre fired a pair to lead the Hawks to a 3-2 win over the Habs before the usual 16,666 at the Chicago Stadium.
Pit Martin had the other Chicago goal. Bobby Rousseau and Gilles Tremblay replied for Canadiens.
Montreal outshot Chicago 30-21 on the game. Hawks goalie Denis DeJordy also had one of his best games of the season as he gets into better shape and becomes more comfortable with his first shot at being the undisputed number one goalkeeper in Chicago.
Montreal lost forward John Ferguson in the ninth minute of the first period. He and Chicago winger Wayne Maki engaged in fisticuffs, after which Ferguson retired to the Montreal dressing room. It was later reported that he had suffered a broken hand and will be out of the lineup for a week or two.
Maniago, Balon Lead Stars
Minnesota North Stars general manager Wren Blair can take full credit for the his team’s 5-1 win over the St. Louis Blues last night in St. Louis. But Blair’s role in the win didn’t have anything to do with something he did last night.
Blair’s two first picks in the two phases of last summer’s Expansion Draft were the stars of the North Stars’ victory. Cesare Maniago, Minnesota’s first pick in the goaltender phase of the draft, made 24 saves and Dave Balon, the first skater pick overall scored a pair of goals to lead the North Stars past the Blues.
Other Minnesota goals were scored by Ray Cullen, Bill Masterton and Mike McMahon. Jim Roberts had the only St. Louis goal.
Blair had high praise for Maniago and Balon. He felt Maniago deserved the shutout he just missed:
“He played well enough to have a shutout. Tonight was Cesare’s night. We played well in front of him but he still had his work cut out.
“The way we played tonight we could have beaten anybody. Again the defence had a great night. Bob McCord is the guy we needed to get the opposition out from in front of our net.”
Blair also was high on Balon’s contributions:
“He’s shown he can do anything. We have him killing penalties, working the power play plus his regular shift.”
Maniago was disappointed in losing the shutout, but he made a determined bid to have the St. Louis goal overturned by the officials. He laughed about his vehement protest, which was all really just an act.
“The puck went from high to low so fast I figured something must have happened. It went off his (Roberts’) shoulder, not his stick.
“I started screaming for the sake of screaming. At first I thought I got away with it. I thought they waved the goal off. But I was just hoping.”
Van Gerbig Has Faith in Pro Hockey
Oakland Seals owner Barry Van Gerbig has faith that big-league hockey will become the national sport that the National Hockey League governors want it to be. His faith is augmented by a love for the sport that he played as a younger man.
Not much younger, though. Van Gerbig is only 28 years old and has the looks of a matinee idol. He lives a celebrity lifestyle, is married to the daughter of actor Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., and has been hob-knobbing with the big bosses of the NHL for quite some time.
He gives you the impression that he knows whereof he speaks.
Howel Van Gerbig, his father, was a fine hockey player in his own right. He played for Princeton University in the early 1920’s.
He told Cauz, “It has often been argued whether he or Hoby Baker was the better U.S. hockey player. Dad only played a year with Boston, as mother made him quit.”
The Boston team that Van Gerbig refers to is unclear, but it isn’t the Bruins. The record book shows Howel Van Gerbig played for Boston A.A. Unicorn in the United States Amateur Hockey Association,
Van Gerbig followed his father to Princeton University where he tended goal in NCAA Division 1 hockey. He played there from 1958-61. In 1962 he says he was one of three eastern players who were invited to try out for the U.S. national team. To prepare for that, he signed up with the Des Moins Oak Leafs of the USHL. On the way to Des Moins, he was asked to play a few games for the Charlotte Checkers of the Eastern Hockey League. Coach Joe Crozier needed a replacement for his regular goalie, Ivan Wamsley, who was injured.
Van Gerbig played a couple of games for Charlotte, with minimal success (7.50 goals-against average.) He went on to Des Moins, where he didn’t have any better luck.
After only a couple of games with Des Moins, he tried to catch a shot with his bare left hand after losing his catching glove. The hand was broken and that was the end of Van Gerbig’s national team aspirations.
Lou Cauz of the Toronto Globe and Mail sat down with Van Gerbig to discuss the progress he’s having selling hockey on the U.S. west coast. Attendance at Seals games, only 30,555 for six games, has been disappointing, to say the least.
Van Gerbig believes he has a handle on things. He believes things will change in 1968:
“We have gone about our business of selling hockey here the wrong way. It’s quite a bit to ask a guy to spend a couple of hundred dollars on season tickets when he doesn’t even know what he’s buying. Our job is to sell the game, not tickets right now.
“Recently we put through a deal for the fans that if they bought tickets for the New York and Chicago games they received a free tiket for the Pittsburgh game.
“Selling hockey here cannot be done overnight. I can remember in the 1950’s going into Chicago Stadium and seeing crowds of 1,800 and 1,400. Jim Norris used to give out 4,000 tickets hoping that 400 would come back.”
Van Gerbig thinks that the NHL playoff system is all wrong. He’d rather see something like baseball, where only the top team in each league enters the World Series.
“I can’t see four teams from each division getting into the playoffs. When a team busts its fanny all season long to finish first and then gets knocked off by a third-place team this is wrong.”
He also thinks that the playoffs are far too compact. Playing seven games in 10 days is far too intense:
“Our poor guys could be forced to play 21 games in 30 days if they got to the final.”
Van Gerbig became friends with William Jennings of the New York Rangers and Weston Adams and Charles Mulcahy of the Boston Bruins. It was Mulcahy who tipped him off about the impending NHL expansion program and suggested he become involved.
About the Seals recent name change from Califiornia to Oakland, Van Gerbig summed up the issue thusly:
“The two cities were always competing with each other. Anything Oakland does, San Francisco thinks is second-rate. Anything San Francisco does, Oakland thinks is showing off. About the only way we could have satisfied both cities was to play our games underneath the bridge that divides them.”
- Some Maple Leafs players ponied up the $22 for the cab ride to San Francisco to take in the sights. They high-tailed it back to their Oakland hotel when they ran into Toronto president Stafford Smythe in one establishment and made it back just before curfew.
- Goalie Roy Edwards, a 30-year-old rookie, will play his first NHL game tonight when the Detroit Red Wings face the Pittsburgh Penguins. Edwards was drafted by Pittsburgh from Chicago during the NHL Expansion Draft last summer, but was traded to the Red Wings for Hank Bassen just before training camp in September.
- Red Wings will place call-up Jimmy Peters Jr. at centre on a line between Alex Delvecchio and Gordie Howe for tonight’s game.
- The average attendance for the Pittsburgh Penguins so far this season is just over 6,000 fans. That ranks second to the Minnesota North Stars.
- Charles Maher of the Los Angeles Times was invited by Kings owner Jack Kent Cooke to take in a Kings game. Spying the thousands of empty seats, he asked Cooke “Jack, there are supposed to be like a half-million Canadians living in metropolitan Los Angeles. Do you suppose all those people moved down here because they couldn’t stand hockey?”
- Jimmy Anderson’s 15-foot backhand shot was the winner as the Springfield Kings edged the Hershey Bears in an AHL game at Hershey.
- Providence Reds drubbed Rochester Americans 6-1 in Providence. Eddie Kachur was the star for the Reds with two goals.
- Buffalo Bisons hard-luck winger Larry Mickey has strained knee ligaments. He’ll miss at least the next few games until the knee is further examined. It’s not known just how serious the injury is.