December 4

Today we have five National Hockey League games on which to report, including a wild affair in Boston that saw a NHL penalty record tied. And after all the action this weekend, the NHL standings have a rather unfamiliar configuration this morning:

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Yes, that’s the Boston Bruins all alone in first place, with the Montreal Canadiens firmly entrenched in the Eastern Division basement.

Bruins Belt Habs 5-3

The Boston Bruins literally fought their way into sole possession of first place in the NHL’s Eastern Division last night with a wild 5-3 win over the Montreal Canadiens. The game featured several brawls, and resulted in Bruins defenceman Don Awrey tying the league record for penalty minutes in a game with 37.

1731  -  John Albert McKenzie (Johnny) (Pie) 1965-72
John McKenzie

Johnny McKenzie led the Boston attack with two goals. Johnny Bucyk, Bobby Orr and Fred Stanfield added singles.

It was a memorable night for Montreal rookie forward Mickey Redmond. Playing in his first-ever NHL game, Redmond fired a pair of goals and assisted on Montreal’s third goal, by fellow rookie Jacques Lemaire.

But it was the brawling that took centre stage in this one. The Bruins have been involved in more than a few such games this year and are gaining a reputation as a unit that backs down from no one.

The first altercation took place at 14:23 of the first period. There are, of course, multiple versions of what touched things off. The consensus seems to be that Montreal forward Ralph Backstrom, while standing close to the Boston goal, was the victim of an assault by Bruins goalie Ed Johnston and Boston rearguard Awrey. Backstrom was felled by a blow to the head, delivered by Johnston, and a body shot from Awrey.

Habs forward Dick Duff, who has a long-running feud with Awrey, immediately went to his team mate’s aid and engaged Awrey in a spirited fist fight.

Terry Harper

Montreal’s Terry Harper led a few players over the boards to join the fray. That prompted both benches to spill onto the ice, with all players except Canadiens backup goalie Ernie Wakely becoming involved. Wakely remained on the Montreal bench.

Besides the Duff-Awrey set-to, other main events on the card had Eddie Westfall of Boston taking on Montreal’s Ted Harris, while Bruins Ted Green squared off with Harper.

When order was finally restored by referee Art Skov, who seems to be a central figure in this sort of thing in the NHL these days, he made a curious assessment of penalties. For Montreal, Duff was banished from the game with a minor, major and game misconduct. Backstrom received a minor, ostensibly for being assaulted. Harris and Harper took fighting majors.

Art Skov

Skov gave the Bruins’ Awrey a minor, a double major and a 10-minute misconduct (which enabled Awrey to stay in the game to partake in further combat). Green and Westfall also were assessed fighting majors.

The nonsense started up again late in the second period. At 18:01 Awrey took on Montreal pest Bryan Watson and used him as a rag doll, flinging him about but never really letting go. On vociferous instruction from Skov, players from both teams refrained from staging part two of the Battle Royale and this one ended up with just Watson and Awrey being penalized. Watson received a five-minute major, pretty much for just showing up, and Awrey was assessed his third fighting major of the game.

As called for by NHL rules, Awrey also received a game misconduct for the third major in the game and thankfully was sent to the showers.

But that wasn’t the end of the silliness. Twelve seconds later, Montreal rookie defenceman Carol Vadnais tangled with Bruins veteran blueliner Dallas Smith and they battled to a draw.

That ended the fighting for the night, but the penalty total for the game was far from complete. Just before the 15-minute mark of the final frame, Habs defender Jacques Laperriere took exception to an attempted mugging by Bruins Eddie Shack on Vadnais.

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Jacques Laperriere

Instead of engaging Shack, Laperriere complained to Skov about the lack of a penalty. Skov promptly slapped Laperriere with a 10-minute misconduct. Laperriere, like most of his team mates, frustrated at Skov’s apparent lack of empathy and hockey judgement, responded with a more, shall we say, forceful argument.

Skov at this point had enough of the constant shenanigans (although he was truly the author of his own misfortune). He  threw Laperriere out of the game, giving him a game misconduct.

All in all, Skov issued 39 penalties totaling 139 minutes. It would be interesting to read his game report and see if he attaches any of the blame for this mess of a game to himself.

Rangers Slap Kings

Phil Goyette scored twice to lead the New York Rangers to a 4-2 win over the visiting Los Angeles Kings last night at Madison Square Garden. The loss knocked the Kings out of first place in the Western Division.

Phil Goyette

Rangers had a 2-0 lead at the end of the first period and never trailed. Newcomer Ron Stewart opened the scoring for the Rangers with his first with his new team. Stewart was picked up from the St. Louis Blues earlier this week in exchange for Red Berenson and minor leaguer Barclay Plager.

After Stewart’s goal, which came after only 2:31 of play, Goyette notched his first of the night at 18:26.

Kings got on the board with the only goal of the second period. Defenceman Bill White beat Rangers goalie Ed Giacomin with a shot from the point for his fifth of the year.

White is a great example of a player who has benefitted greatly from NHL expansion. Toiling for years in virtual anonymity under the Eddie Shore dictatorship in Springfield, White received a new lease on life when the Los Angeles club purchased the Springfield AHL franchise. He’s been the Kings’ best rearguard this season.

During that middle frame referee Bruce Hood, one of the league’s bright young officials, suffered a broken nose when he was struck in the face by a shot from the Kings’ Dale Rolfe.  Hood was assisted from the ice and taken to a nearby hospital for repairs. Amazingly, he returned in time to officiate the final period.

Linesman Brent Cassleman had replaced Hood while he was being patched up.

Bob Nevin restored the two-goal lead for New York early in the third with his eighth. But the plucky Los Angeles squad refused to give up. Gord Labossiere brought the visitors to within one just 24 seconds after Nevin’s goal.

Kings kept at the Rangers for the remainder of the contest and it took Goyette’s second of the night to put the issue to rest at 16:35.

Kings’ best player on the night was goalkeeper Wayne Rutledge. Despite giving up four goals, he kept the score respectable, allowing his team a chance to make a comeback that they just couldn’t quite pull off.

Red Wings Rout Penguins

After a scoreless first period, the Detroit Red Wings scored three second-period goals, and followed that up with three more in the third to crush the Pittsburgh Penguins 6-1 at the Olympia in Detroit.

Bruce MacGregor

Six different players shared in the Detroit scoring. Gordie Howe and Bruce MacGregor each had a goal and an assist. The other Red Wings marksmen were Paul Henderson, Floyd Smith, Bart Crashley and Alex Delvecchio. Norm Ullman contributed three assists to the cause.

Gene Ubriaco had the only Pittsburgh tally.

Howe’s goal was the prettiest of the night. It was his 12th of the season, and the 106th game-winning goal of his illustrious career. He came in on former team mate Leo Boivin, now playing defence for Pittsburgh. He zipped around Boivin with a surprising burst of speed and beat Penguins goalie Les Binkley with a quick wrist shot.

Binkley played well despite having six pucks get by him. The Wings’ goal total could easily have hit double figures had it not been for his strong effort.

Roy Edwards played very well in goal for Detroit, stopping 28 of the 29 Pittsburgh shots directed his way.

There was a lot of blood letting in the first period of this game, but it was all of the accidental variety. Red Wings Gary Jarrett received four stitches for a cut over his right eye, and returned to action to start the second period.

Ditto for Pittsburgh’s Keith McCreary, who took seven stitches over his right eye and also made it back to the game.

Flyers Number One in the West

Philadelphia Flyers took over first place in the NHL’s Western Division last night with a solid 4-2 home-ice win over the St. Louis Blues.

The Blues actually scored three goals in this game, but one of them was by a St. Louis player into his  own net. And it came at the worst possible time.

Barclay Plager

Just 35 seconds into the second period, and with the score tied 1-1, the puck went deep into the St. Louis zone. Blues Ron Schock retrieved the disc and being pressured, fired an ill-advised pass to the front of his net at a surprised defenceman Barclay Plager.

Plager, who just joined the Blues this week in a trade with the New York Rangers, attempted to swat the pass away from the goal mouth, but instead the puck slid directly into the far corner past an equally shocked Glenn Hall in the Blues goal.

Leon Rochefort, the Flyer who pressured Shock into the hurried pass, received credit for a goal even though he never touched the puck on the play.

Other scorers for the Flyers were Lou Angotti, Gary Dornhoefer and Ed Hoekstra. Dornhoefer and Hoekstra’s goals came in the third period to snap a 2-2 tie. Schock and Terry Crisp replied for the Blues

Flyers goalie Bernie Parent earned his first career assist on Hoekstra’s goal. He cleared the puck to centre ice where Hoekstra picked it up and was successful on the subsequent one-on-one rush.

Parent had a good night between the pipes for the Flyers, making 32 saves.

Stars Shock Hawks

The Minnesota North Stars took advantage of a first-period injury to regular Chicago Black Hawks goalie Denis DeJordy to score an upset 4-3 win over the Hawks right in Chicago Stadium. Over 18,000 fans (don’t tell the fire marshal) were sent home disappointed when a wobbly 65-foot shot by Stars Wayne Connelly fooled substitute goalie Dave Dryden with about five and a half minutes left in the game.

Wayne Connelly

DeJordy suffered a 12-stitch cut to the chin about 13 minutes through the opening frame. He was struck by a shot from Minnesota’s Ray Cullen. DeJordy stayed upright on the play as Cullen took another shot from about 50 feet and beat the injured goalie. That made the score 3-1 for the Stars.

At that point Dryden came into the game and DeJordy retired for the evening.

Other Minnesota scorers were Bill Collins and Parker MacDonald. Kenny Wharram, Doug Mohns and Chico Maki were the Chicago marksmen.

It was a costly loss for the Black Hawks. In addition to the DeJordy injury, the Hawks also lost forward Eric Nesterenko. The big winger was injured in the third period when he slammed into a goal post. He left with a reported thigh injury.

The Black Hawks mounted a strong rally in the final four minutes, but were foiled by Stars netminder Gary Bauman. He made close-in saves on Wharram and Bobby Hull to preserve the Minnesota victory.

Quick Hits

  • Reports out of Vancouver suggest that former NHL great Eddie Shore has acquired an interest in the Vancouver Canucks of the Western Hockey League. Shore is apparently a minority shareholder, but it’s believed should Vancouver be awarded an NHL franchise in the next round of expansion, the Hall of Fame defenceman would play a significant role.

    Eddie Shore
  • Cornell University scored its 19 straight win over a two-season span this weekend, defeating Ontario’s University of Guelph 4-0. Cornell goalie Ken Dryden was called upon to make only 17 saes to earn the shutout.
  • Bruins Johnny Bucyk has taken over the NHL scoring lead with 16 goals and 15 assists for 31 points. That’s one more than Bobby Hull of Chicago (19-11-30). Bucyk’s linemates John McKenzie (11-19-30) and Fred Stanfield (7-23-30) are tied with Hull.
  • Toronto Marlboros blew a 4-1 lead and had to settle for a 5-5 tie with the Hamilton Red Wings in Ontario Hockey Association Junior A play yesterday at Maple Leaf Gardens. Richie Bayes led the Marlies with a goal and three assists. Eddie Hatoum paced the Hamilton attack with a pair of goals.
  • Catharines Black Hawks blasted the London Nationals 8-1. Skeeter Teal’s three goals were all the Hawks needed, but Dennis Giannini added two of his own as well.





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