After a couple of dark nights, the National Hockey League sprung back into action Wednesday evening with five games. We’ll report on all the games, plus the usual Quick Hits.
Walton Beats Bruins
Undistracted by all the hoopla surrounding the return of former crowd favourite Eddie Shack to Maple Leaf Gardens with the Bruins, the Maple Leafs, led by Mike Walton’s hat trick defeated Boston 4-2 last night.
The victory gives Toronto sole possession of first place in the NHL’s Eastern Division with 19 points, two ahead of the New York Rangers and Detroit Red Wings. The loss leaves the Bruins tied with Montreal for fourth.
The three goals for Walton was the first time in his NHL career that he’s attained that figure in a game. And the encouraging thing about his performance is that he played so well, he could have had at least a couple more.
Bob Pulford had the other Toronto goal when he opened the scoring at 2:42 of the first. Fred Stanfield and rookie Derek Sanderson scored for the Bruins.
Walton was thrilled with his performance, but put more emphasis on the win rather than any individual laurels he earned (he was the game’s first star).
“That was great, just great pulling off a win against those guys without the Big M (Frank Mahovlich), Dave (Keon) and Sam (Allan Stanley). And our line didn’t give up a goal. I was really happy about that.”
Two of Walton’s goals came in the first period against Bruins goalie Gerry Cheevers, who had been firmly entrenched in the number one netminding slot in Boston. But after giving up three in the first 20 minutes last night, coach Harry Sinden relieved him of his duties at the end of the first in favour of veteran Eddie Johnston.
It was Johnston who gave up Walton’s third of the night. That came at 13:29 of the second frame on a gritty individual effort, the kind the Leafs haven’t seen from Walton during his short NHL career.
Walton lost the puck on a breakaway, regained possession and took a quick shot that beat Johnston but hit the post. He recovered his own rebound and fired right back at Boston goalkeeper, who made the save. At that point Ted Green, Boston’s toughest player, knocked Walton to his knees, but didn’t completely tie him up.
Walton doggedly kept hammering away at Johnston for the loose puck, which finally found its way to the back of the net. Johnston protested that the whistle should have been blown on the play, but referee Vern Buffey would have none of it.
The man they call “Shakey” was ecstatic to finally get an NHL hat trick:
“I was dizzy with joy when the light went on. I’ve had a few hat tricks as a pro, two at Tulsa and once, I think, at Rochester, but this was the big one. I’d have been mad if I’d missed.”
Sinden wasn’t at all happy with the way his team played. He also explained to the Toronto Star’s Red Burnett why Cheevers was replaced:
“I thought he was hitting the ice too much. He was on his knees for all three goals, didn’t look like he’d stop anything. I also figured that the team might tighten up in front of Johnston. It did, but you can’t spot a team like Leafs a two-goal lead in the first period and pull the game out of the fire.
“We made too many mistakes defensively and offensively. I sat Green and McKenzie and Lonsberry out at different times trying to snap them out of it. If they don’t do their jobs on the ice they can park their butts on the bench.”
Cheevers didn’t blame Sinden for the hook at the end of the first:
“I was having one of those nights when I wasn’t sure I could make another save, or even stop a basketball.”
The two Leafs call-ups from Rochester, defenceman Larry Hillman and winger Jean-Paul Parise, also played starring roles for Toronto. Hillman, replacing the injured Stanley, took a regular turn along side Marcel Pronovost and was strong all night. But aside from Walton, the player everyone was talking about after the game was Parise.
The 5-9, 175 pound left winger did not look out of place at all. He skated hard all night, threw a few solid hits and his forechecking against Boston’s Bobby Orr led directly to Walton’s second goal. He was named the game’s third star and his work certainly rates a further look from the Leafs.
Parise perhaps had some extra motivation in this game, playing against his former employers. He suited up for 18 games with the Bruins last season, scoring two goals and adding a pair of assists.
Habs Drub North Stars
Montreal Canadiens made their first foray into the wilds of Minnesota last night and encountered very little resistance on their way to a one-sided 5-1 win over the North Stars at Bloomington.
Canadiens got goals from five different players as they outshot the Stars 28-15. Henri Richard was the scoring star for the Habs with a three-point night. He had a goal and two assists.
Other Montreal goal-getters were Ted Harris, Dick Duff, Ralph Backstrom and Yvan Cournoyer. Wayne Connelly was the only North Star to get one past Montreal netminder Gump Worsley.
The win snapped a six-game winless skein for Canadiens. They are tied for fourth place in the NHL Eastern Division standings, with Boston. North Stars are second in the Western Division with 13 points.
A crowd of 12,989 took in the contest in the new Met Centre, located in Bloomington, directly between Minneapolis and St. Paul.
North Stars coach Wren Blair was upset about a disallowed goal he thought his team scored in the second period. He felt that, plus other missed calls, might have turned the game in his club’s favour:
“It’s a shame when a good game is fouled up by officiating and a goal judge. I’m not trying to take anything away from the Canadiens. I’ve seen them fly like that for years. But when they didn’t give us Masterton’s goal, it took the heart out of our team.”
The goal in question came as a result of a scramble where the puck was bouncing around the Montreal goal crease. A couple of the North Stars players thought it went in, but Worsley, who had the best look at it, disagreed:
“It hit my skate first, then the pipe. The game’s over so why should I lie?”
Worsley had his own argument with the officials. He felt that the Minnesota goal was kicked in by Connelly:
“I get mad after each goal but this one really got me mad. I was not thinking about a shutout then. But they get one and you start to worry. It gave them a lift and they came back like gangbusters.”
Well maybe the North Stars did get a lift, but still, Worsley only had to make 14 saves for the win.
Seals Snap Winless Streak
The Oakland Seals finally put an end to their 14-game winless streak last night. Their third victory of the season came at the expense of their cross-state rivals, the Los Angeles Kings on home ice in Oakland. The Seals skated off with a 4-1 victory before a hugely disappointing crowd of only 3,256.
After Terry Gray had given the Kings a 1-0 lead at 4:57 of the first period, the Seals came back with four unanswered goals. Defenceman Larry Cahan tied the game less than a minute after Gray’s goal with his second of the year.
George Swarbrick, with number eight of the season, scored what proved to be the game-winner two and a half minutes later.
Seals’ Charlie Burns notched his first of the year in the second period. Aut Erickson rounded out the Oakland scoring with his third with only 29 seconds left in the game.
The Kings were certainly caught on a bad night. They looked nothing like the hustling, fast-skating squad that defeated the Stanley Cup champion Toronto Maple Leafs last week. Kings coach Red Kelly wouldn’t give the Seals any credit for their win:
“We’ve had better nights. We tried but we weren’t sharp. I don’t think the Seals played any better than they did before. We just weren’t as good.
“They were due.”
Seals coach Bert Olmstead wasn’t overly joyous about finally gaining a win:
“It’s nothing to get excited about – one win after all those blanket losses.
“This was our steadiest game. We kept our mistakes to a minimum.”
Even though the end of the winless skein should have been the big news, all anyone wanted to talk about after the game was the empty seats at the Oakland Coliseum. The team had expected a good crowd as they try and promote a rivalry with their expansion cousins from California. Instead it was the worse attendance figure of the season.
Only 36,267 fans have taken in the eight home games so far. That makes the Seals far and away the worst-drawing team in the entire NHL. The scene of such an empty arena at a big-league game was so embarrassing that owner Barry Van Gerbig and president Frank Selke Jr. avoided interviews after the game.
Another Seals club official who asked to remain nameless, did find time to comment:
“Of course we’re disappointed. We think part of it is the competition for the sports dollar here with the Raiders (American Football League). We feel like we’ve made some mistakes, too, like pushing season tickets too hard and not playing up to groups.”
Hawks Win; 15 in 15 for Hull
Chicago Black Hawks superstar left winger Bobby Hull just won’t let up. Last night Hull scored his 15th goal in as many games to lead the Black Hawks to a 4-1 win over the Blues in St. Louis.
The game was very close for two periods. The only goal of the first 40 minutes was scored by Chicago centre Stan Mikita just after the half-way mark of the first period. In fact, the Blues outshot the Hawks 22-19 during that stretch.
Things came apart for the Blues in the final frame. The Hawks pressure started early in the third and was relentless. St. Louis goalie Glenn Hall, who was flawless over the first two periods, was unable to stem the Chicago tide despite his best efforts.
The Golden Jet broke things open with the second Chicago goal at 9:39. Most of the leg work on that one was done by defenceman Gilles Marotte. The Hawks’ rearguard blocked a Fred Hucul shot, raced down the ice and fed a perfect pass to Hull. His blazing drive got past Hall’s left elbow before the veteran goalkeeper could react.
Hawks added two more goals by Eric Nesterenko and Dennis Hull, the younger of the Hull brothers. Ron Stewart ruined Chicago goalie Denis DeJordy’s shutout bid with his seventh of the season for the Blues.
Bassen Back – Shuts out Flyers
Veteran Pittsburgh Penguin goalie Hank Bassen made a successful return to the nets last night. After watching from the bench for the past two and a half weeks, Bassen got the start against the Philadelphia Flyers in Pittsburgh and made 27 saves as the Penguins skated to a convincing 5-0 win over the visiting Flyers.
The offensive output for the Penguins comes after scoring only one goal in their previous two meetings with Philadelphia. Little-used centre Bobby Dillabough, primarily a penalty killer, was inserted onto the first line between veterans Ab McDonald and Andy Bathgate and that may have been the catalyst for the Pittsburgh’s offensive bonanza. Dillabough and McDonald each scored a goal while Bathgate added an assist.
Other Pittsburgh scorers were Billy Dea, Keith McCreary and Art Stratton.
This was the first time the Flyers had been shut out in their brief NHL history.
The Penguins had to be a little disappointed with a crowd of only 6,876 against their cross-state rivals.
- Frank Mahovlich of the Maple Leafs, hospitalized since November 2 with a nervous disorder, has been practicing skating and shooting on his own every day at the Tam O’Shanter Arena in Toronto.
- Tim Horton will play his 1000th NHL game this weekend. According to reports, the Maple Leafs have no plan to mark the milestone.
- Pittsburgh Penguins had to return defenceman Bill Speer to Baltimore of the American Hockey League because of an NHL rule that states players sent to the minors must remain there for 14 days. Speer had played well since his premature recall and will no doubt be back with the Penguins as soon as the rules allow.
- Minnesota North Stars forward Len Lunde has refused to report to Memphis of the Central Professional Hockey League. Lunde will likely be suspended.
- Bobby Taylor, end for the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League said Wednesday he will be joining the Philadelphia Flyers. Flyers have not confirmed the move.
- A six-player Ontario Hockey Association Junior A trade sees Kitchener Rangers send Ralph Buchanan, Jack Rathwell, Tony Featherstone and Jimmy Jones to Peterborough Petes for Henri Lehvonen and Ken Johnson, plus Peterborough’s first choice in next year’s draft of midget players.
- Cleveland Barons shut out Hershey Bears 2-0 in an AHL game in Hershey. Gerry Desjardins made 28 saves while Wilf Martin and Howie Glover scored for the Barons.
- Eddie Shore, former Boston Bruins great and past owner of the AHL Springfield Kings threatened to break a photographer’s camera yesterday at a Vancouver Canucks practice in Vancouver. Shore was on the ice giving some tips to Vancouver defenceman when the photographer attempted to snap a photo. Shore said “Take my picture and I’ll bust that camera over your head.”