On a very light hockey news day, the Friday of the American Thanksgiving, there were only a couple of tidbits on which to report. The most noteworthy concerned the immediate future of Toronto Maple Leafs forward Frank Mahovlich.
Mahovlich will practice Tuesday
The Big M, who has been out of the lineup and in hospital since November 11 with a mystery condition, received clearance from his doctors to begin practice with the Leafs next Tuesday. Dr. Hugh Smythe once again refused to disclose the nature of the illness and commented that Mahovlich would not likely discuss it either. Dr. Smythe also refused to speculate on when the big left winger would return to active duty.
In other Leafs news, coach Punch Imlach says that Terry Sawchuk will likely play both games for Toronto this weekend. Veteran Johnny Bower is ready to return from injury, but at the moment no goaltender in the NHL is playing better than Sawchuk. Bower hasn’t played since November 15, and has only practiced once.
Rangers avoid downtown
With the Grey Cup being played in Toronto this weekend, the visiting New York Rangers have opted to stay in the Ascot Hotel next to Woodbine Raceway, rather than take up in their usual digs, the Royal York. General Manager Emile Francis felt that the craziness that accompanies the Canadian Football League Championship game, often referred to as the “National Drunk” might not be the best atmosphere for his hockey team. Francis himself, however is staying at the Royal York and admitted he is enjoying the show.
Junior Habs’ slide concerns Bowman
Coach Scotty Bowman of the Montreal Junior Canadiens is threatening big changes for his struggling OHA Junior A club. He started the changes yesterday by bringing in defenceman Michel Poirier and left winger Robin Burns. Bowman hinted that if some of his more established players don’t discover some new zest, they may find themselves playing in the Montreal Metro league. The Junior Canadiens are last in the OHA Junior A league.
In the only OHA game on Friday evening, Hamilton Red Wings goaltender Peter Fritsch put on a spectacular display, but in the end, the powerhouse Niagara Falls Flyers were just too much as they eked out a 3-2 win over the the Wings. Niagara Falls outshot the Red Wings 47-15.
In AHL action, Quebec downed Cleveland 4-1 and Baltimore and Pittsburgh skated to a 3-3 tie.
Aces high in Cleveland
Quebec scored three power play goals en route to their win in Cleveland. Terry Gray, Wayne Hicks, Cleland Mortson and Ed Hoekstra were the Aces marksmen. Rookie Gord Wilkie replied for Cleveland.
The Clippers had an early 2-0 lead at home against Pittsburgh on goals by Ron Ingram and Ray Brunel. Yves Locas drew the Hornets to within one before the first frame ended. In the second period Pittsburgh scored a couple of quick ones to take a 3-2 lead. Ted Hampson and Jim Watson were the goal-getters. Ted Taylor tied it up for Baltimore with about a minute remaining in the second period, beating Hornet netminder Hank Bassen on a breakaway. Neither team was able to score the rest of the way, so each went home with a point.