February 8

Today we report on five National Hockey League games played last night. A couple of the games were shrouded in controversy and we have all the details. In addition we have some harsh words from North Stars management to the Minnesota high school hockey system.

Black Hawks 3 Maple Leafs 2

Rookie Paul Terbenche scored his third goal of the season at 7:54 of the third period to give the Chicago Black Hawks a 3-2 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs before over 19,000 fans at Chicago Stadium.

Terbenche’s unassisted game-winning goal, a first for him, came at the expense of Toronto defenceman Marcel Pronovost. Pronovost attempted to clear the puck from the Toronto zone, but his pass landed directly on the stick of Terbenche, playing defence in place of the injured Pat Stapleton.Screen Shot 2018-02-07 at 9.13.07 AM

The 22-year-old Port Hope, Ontario native quickly fired the puck right back at the Toronto cage. Pronovost attempted to block the drive, but the puck glanced off his stick and past Leafs goaltender Bruce Gamble.

The Hull brothers took care of the rest of the Chicago scoring in a 27-second span in the middle frame. After Toronto took a 2-0 first period lead on goals by Ron Ellis and Larry Hillman, Bobby Hull got the Hawks on the board at 4:51 of the second while the Hawks enjoyed a man advantage. He took a pass from Ken Wharram to beat Maple Leafs starting goalie Johnny Bower from close range.

Less than half a minute later, Dennis Hull scored a goal from well out that beat Bower on the glove side. The long shot appeared to curve about three feet and then dip, fooling the veteran netminder. At that point, Toronto coach Punch Imlach decided it wasn’t Johnny’s night and sent Gamble from the bench to finish the game in goal for the Leafs.

Coming into the game cold, Gamble was brilliant. He made 28 saves in his 34 plus minutes of work, many of them spectacular. His best was on a Bobby Hull breakaway.

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Paul Terbenche

Terbenche wasn’t even supposed to be playing in the game. He had been playing centre most of the season, even though his natural position is as a rearguard. But with the Hawks so thin down the middle this year, he’s been seeing most of his ice time as the club’s third-line pivot man. He got his chance on the blue line when Stapleton went down last week with a facial injury.

Last night he was to be employed as a fifth defenceman. That changed less than five minutes into the game when Pierre Pilote got caught standing still by Toronto’s Ellis, who whizzed around him and netted the first Leaf goal.

Black Hawks coach Billy Reay sat the veteran Pilote down for most of the rest of the night and used Terbenche in his place.

Toronto’s manager-coach Punch Imlach, worried about his team’s decreasing playoff chances, made some lineup changes of his own for this game. He brought in forward Andre Hinse and defenceman Mike Pelyk from Toronto’s Tulsa farm club in the Central Professional Hockey League, and also called up right wing Duke Harris from Rochester of the American Hockey League.

To make room for the newcomers, Imlach raised more than a few eyebrows by benching leading goal scorer Mike Walton and winger Brian Conacher. After the game, Conacher was sent to Rochester to take Harris’ place.

Walton solidified his place in Imlach’s dog house by not showing up for the game until the third period, when he turned up in the Chicago Stadium press box. Neither Imlach nor assistant King Clancy had any idea of the fleet centre’s whereabouts up until that point.

Young Pelyk, only 19 and still eligible for junior hockey, made a good impression. After the game Imlach says the youngster has earned a further look and will spend the rest of the season with Toronto.

Bruins 6 Blues 4

Defenceman-turned-right winger Eddie Westfall scored three goals to lead the Boston Bruins to a 6-4 win over the Blues last night in St. Louis. But it wasn’t an easy victory for Boston, and in fact most folks in St. Louis think it wasn’t a win at all.

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Ed Westfall

A wild scene erupted at the 14:56 mark of the third period, with the Bruins leading 5-4. Bruins. Johnny McKenzie fired a shot that went over the shoulder of St. Louis goalkeeper Glenn Hall – but what happened after that is completely unclear.

The puck either hit the crossbar behind Hall, or went into the top part of the net. In any event, the puck ricocheted back out past Hall in the blink of an eye. Boston players celebrated what they perceived to be a goal, but the goal judge did not activate the red light to indicate a score.

Referee Bob Sloan made no effort to stop the play and no whistle was blown. At that point, Blues captain Al Arbour scooped up the puck and sauntered down the ice (Al is no speedster). While a couple of Bruins made a belated and half-hearted attempt to catch him, Arbour swooped in on Boston goalie Ed Johnston and slipped a low shot past him in to the corner of the Boston net.

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Al Arbour

So as the Blues celebrated what they thought was a game-tying goal, the Bruins players, led by coach Harry Sinden, charged off the bench and went at Sloan.

Sloan, who admitted after the game he never did see the puck enter the goal, conferred with linesman Brent Cassleman, who insisted he saw the puck strike the mesh at the back of the net. Based on Cassleman’s testimony, Sloan allowed the Boston score and disallowed the goal by Arbour.

Pacified, the Bruins and Sinden retreated to their bench, but now it was the St. Louis crowd’s turn to heap abuse upon the beleaguered officiating team. They littered the ice with programs and various other debris, halting proceedings for several minutes.

The Blues protested vehemently to Sloan, who steadfastly refused to listen to their arguments. But he did hear enough to issue 10-minute misconducts to Arbour and Blues defenceman Bob Plager. Plager was assessed an additional game misconduct when it was determined that his protests had exceeded the boundaries of good taste.

Goal judge Rich Schweigler said after that game that he was not allowed to comment on the play, but he did remark “I didn’t turn the light on, did I?”

Blues coach Scotty Bowman was obviously fuming after the game. He felt the officials might have been swayed by the mob scene that ensued when Sinden and his players came off the bench:

“I used to chase referees all over the ice and throw sticks, but I’ve tried to conduct myself like a gentleman this year. Now I’m not so sure I should have changed.

“When you see someone like Harry Sinden run onto the ice as he did, and compare it with the results, it makes you wonder. Any fine is a cheap price to pay for a victory.

“This is getting past the funny stage. We had a goal taken away from us on a referee’s decision Saturday night and now a linesman who wasn’t much closer to the play than I was costs us at least a tie.

“I’m not criticizing the officiating, you understand. But I can see absolutely no reason why the referee wasn’t close to the play that produced the goal that beat us. And why no whistle was blown at the time, I’ll never know.”

As far as the game itself went, Westfall’s hat trick was the first of his NHL career. In addition to McKenzie’s disputed marker, Phil Esposito also scored twice for Boston, giving him a career-high 28 on the season.

St. Louis goals were scored by Bill McCreary, Craig Cameron, Gerry Melnyk and Frank St. Marseille.

Canadiens 4 Flyers 1

Montreal Canadiens scored twice in each of the last two periods to claim a 4-1 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers at the Forum in Montreal.

After a scoreless opening 20 minutes, Bobby Rousseau and Ted Harris scored for Montreal just 32 seconds apart in the middle frame and that turned the tide.

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Ted Harris

John Ferguson and Dick Duff added insurance goals in the third for Montreal. Lou Angotti scored for Philadelphia at 8:44 of the final frame to deny Montreal goalie Gump Worsley’s shutout try.

Worsley faced only 19 shots from the Flyers, but two big saves when the issue was still in doubt may have saved the game for the Habs. He made great close-in stops on Don Blackburn and Forbes Kennedy early on to keep the first period scoreless.

For Worsley, it was his first game in a month. He had been out with pulled muscles, but was unable to get back in the net for the past 11 games thanks to an incredible hot streak from understudy Rogatien Vachon.

Canadiens are blessed with two of the best netminders in the league right now. Coach Toe Blake thinks it’s a good situation to be in:

“You just can’t underestimate the importance of goalies. Now my problem will be to decide who to use in the future games.”

Philadelphia’s best player was goalkeeper Bernie Parent. As he has on most nights he’s played, Parent, a Montreal native, held the Flyers in the game, making 30 saves.

Flyers had to play the final 40 minutes without the services of defenceman Ed Van Impe. He pulled stomach muscles on the weekend, and coupled with some ongoing back woes, he was unable to continue after the first period.

Forward Bill Sutherland did not suit up for the game. His spot in the lineup was taken by winger Keith Wright, who was called up from the AHL Quebec Aces. Wright was returned to the Aces after the game.

Penguins 4 Seals 1

An unlikely hero led the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 4-1 road win over the Seals last night in Oakland.

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Gene Ubriaco

Gene Ubriaco, a 29-year-old minor league veteran who finally gets his chance at the big time with NHL expansion, scored a pair of goals for Pittsburgh. That gives him eight for the season. Also scoring for the Penguins were captain Leo Boivin, with his fourth, and winger Billy Dea, who netted his 13th.

Pittsburgh goalie Les Binkley was nearly flawless, stopping 18 of 19 Oakland shots. Gerry Ehman was the only Seal to beat Binkley, on a nice setup from Charlie Burns at 14:12 of the final period.

Penguins coach Red Sullivan, who has been highly critical of his team in recent games, was full of praise for his troops last night:

“We played well against Oakland. Very well. It was certainly one of our best road games of this year.

“I think we even played better last night than when we beat the Bruins 1-0 in Boston.

“There’s no question but that we got a couple of big breaks on the first two goals and we were lucky when Bill Hicke missed an open net, but we had the better of the play. And I can’t say enough about the play of Gene Ubriaco and Les Binkley. They were terrific.

“Binkley was super. We got good goaltending when we needed it. Now, if we could play as well against the rest of the clubs in our division as we do against Oakland, we’d be okay.

“But considering we have four guys out of action – Earl Ingarfield, Ken Schinkel, Bob Dillabough and Val Fonteyne – we did amazingly well.”

The 5,258 fans who showed up for the game in Oakland were not impressed with a listless showing by the home side. There was ample jeering for the Seals’ poor effort, and they deserved it. At times they looked like a poor minor league team rather than an NHL outfit.

New bench coach Gordon Fashoway juggled his lines, without the desired effect. The switches to the forward units seemed to only confuse a rather dispirited group.

North Stars 4 Kings 2

While fans in Oakland complain about a minor-league product put forth by their home team, both teams on the ice railed against abysmal ice conditions in the Forum in Inglewood, California. The playing surface was worse than just about any minor league rink you could find.

As teams struggled to avoid patches of concrete, cracks and puddles, the Minnesota North Stars skated to a 4-2 win over the host Los Angeles Kings. All the talk after the game was about just how bad the ice conditions were.

The game had to be held up for 33 minutes between the first and second periods as arena staff attempted, without much success, to repair holes in the playing surface. And then during the second intermission, the Zamboni broke down and the ice could not be fully resurfaced. There were exposed spaces of concrete several feet long in several locations and more than a few players fell because of it.

At the end of the first period, as poor a display of hockey as the NHL has seen this season, Minnesota coach Wren Blair approached referee Bruce Hood and questioned whether the game should continue.

Hood, equally concerned, made a hasty telephone call to NHL president Clarence Campbell. Hood explains:

“I was never thinking of calling the game. I just wanted Mr. Campbell to know. There were strips six to eight inches wide and two or three feet long down to the bare concrete. I was concerned for everybody’s safety, mainly my own.

“Mr. Campbell instructed me to complete the game, the only way it could be called off would be if Cooke (Kings’ owner Jack Kent Cooke) did so.”

Cooke was called to the phone and told Campbell that the ice was “regrettably bad.” He also said that calling off the game never entered his mind.

The problem stemmed from the changeover from the National Basketball Association game Tuesday night to last night’s NHL game. It usually takes about 16 hours to lay down a decent ice surface, but putting the ice in for this game had to be done in only about 11 hours.

Cooke said the situation was a “human error that will never happen again.”

Bill Collins, Dave Balon, Andre Boudrias and Jean-Paul Parise were the Minnesota goal-getters. For Boudrias, it was his first goal in the past seven games.

Doug Robinson and Lowell MacDonald replied for the Kings.

Blair, Mariucci Blast Prep School Regulations

Minnesota North Stars general manager-coach Wren Blair and his assistant Johnny Mariucci came out with some stinging criticism of some of the rules being enforced by the ruling body of the Minnesota State High School League.

High School hockey is extremely popular in the state, and is a key feeder for university and college programs. However, the league enforces a rule that high school teams can no longer practice once they are eliminated from tournament competition.Screen Shot 2018-02-07 at 4.35.36 PM.png

Blair feels this curtailing of practice time retards player development:

“Here it is the first week in February and most of the high school hockey teams are done. There is still two months of winter remaining, but a boy can no longer play any hockey..

“What do they expect the kids to do? Run around the track in showshoes?

“That’s why there are only two Americans playing in the National Hockey League. The high school season here is simply too short to develop the skills.

“The schoolmen tell us that it is not their function to provide material for pro hockey, but what about the boy that has the ability to play? They are depriving him of an opportunity to make $15,000 or $20,000 a year in the NHL.”

Mariucci, a native of Eveleth, Minnesota who has an extensive scouting background, says that the short school hockey season  prompts even the University of Minnesota to recruit players from states like Pennsylvania for their program:

“The kids in the high school program aren’t good enough to play anymore at the University of Minnesota.

“At one time Minnesota was an exporter of high school athletes. They all came in here to recruit. Now our state is an importer.

“What’s wrong with letting the kids play after their season is over? Do they forbid the cornet player from playing except during band season?

“Those fellows in the high school league have been stifling Minnesota’s program long enough. I think it’s time for fresh air in that office.”

Quick Hits

  • Bruins may have lost young superstar Bobby Orr with yet another injury. Orr was used only sparingly in the second period of last night’ game in St. Louis and didn’t play at all in the third. Boston management isn’t commenting, but there are whispers Orr may have torn knee cartilage.
  • Chicago Black Hawks defenceman Matt Ravlich, who has missed all of this season after sustaining a severely broken leg last March, has been cleared by doctors to resume playing. He will likely be sent to the Hawks’ CPHL farm team at Dallas to play himself back into shape.
  • The USA lost its second straight game at the Olympics, 4-3 to Sweden. But the worse news is that forward Craig Falkman suffered a broken or dislocated ankle and will miss the rest of the tournament.
  • Andre Lacroix of the Quebec Aces has built up an 18-point lead over team mate Simon Nolet in the AHL scoring race. Lacroix has scored 37 goals and added 42 assists in just 48 games with the Aces.
  • Howie Glover scored twice to lead the Barons to a 4-2 win over the Springfield Kings in Cleveland. Norm Dennis and Doug Senior also scored for Cleveland. Mike Corrigan and Billy Inglis had the Springfield markers.
  • In a WHL-AHL interlocking game, Fred Hilts had a hat-trick as his San Diego Gulls romped to an 8-2 win over the Hershey Bears in San Diego.

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