Stellar goaltending from ageless Johnny Bower last night enabled the Toronto Maple Leafs to retain their grip on third place in the National Hockey League. In a showdown match in which the third spot in the standings was at stake, Bower frustrated the visiting New York Rangers with a fine 37-save performance as the Leafs downed the Rangers 4-2.
The other two games scheduled in the NHL last night saw Detroit top Boston 5-3 while Montreal took sole possession of first place with a 2-1 win over the Black Hawks in Chicago.
Rangers Better, Still Lose
In New York, Bower returned to the Leaf net and was the story for Toronto. The Rangers deserved a better fate based on their play, but Bower lived up to his nickname “The China Wall.” Rangers outshot the Leafs 39-29 on the night, including 16-7 in the third period.
The home side led 2-0 after the first, on goals by Vic Hadfield and Jean Ratelle. The second period looked for a while like the Rangers might blow the game wide open. Three consecutive penalties after Toronto tied the score put the Leafs behind the eight-ball, but Bower handled everything the Rangers could throw at him flawlessly until the visitors took the lead in the final minute of the middle stanza.
George Armstrong scored at the one-minute mark to make the score 2-1. Dave Keon’s seventh just three minutes later was the equalizer. Orland Kurtenbach gave the Leafs the lead they would not relinquish.
The final 20 minutes saw the Broadway Blueshirts pull out all the stops. They were unable to beat Bower, who has never looked better. New York pulled goalie Ed Giacomin in the final minute in favour of an extra skater, but the move backfired. Bob Pulford fired a long shot directly into the unguarded New York cage to make the final 4-2.
This was the second consecutive game in which the Rangers outshot and outplayed their opponent, only to fall short on the scoreboard. On Saturday night it was Chicago edging them by a 1-0 score.
Floyd Smith Stars for Red Wings
Floyd Smith was the scoring hero for the Detroit Red Wings last night. The veteran right-winger netted a pair of first-period goals to power the Wings past the hometown Boston Bruins by a 5-3 score.
The Red Wings scored four times in the opening 20 minutes to put the game out of reach for the Bruins early. Gary Bergman, freshly in the lineup as a call-up from Memphis of the CPHL, netted his first of the season to open the scoring at 3:38. Smith then scored his first of the period at the nine-minute mark, followed just 2:42 later by Norm Ullman’s seventh. Smith connected once again with just over five minutes left in the opening frame.
The teams traded goals in the second. Val Fonteyne, another recent recall, scored his first on a power play to make it 5-0. Tommy Williams finally broke through for Boston with four and a half minutes to play with his sixth to make it 5-1 after 40 minutes. Williams deflected the point shot of rookie call-up defenseman Poul Popiel.
The Wings cruised through the final period, allowing the Bruins a couple of inconsequential markers by Dean Prentice and John Bucyk.
Bruins coach Milt Schmidt was again behind the bench after collapsing during Boston’s game on Saturday night in Toronto. He appeared to show no ill effects and made no comment on his health.
Richard Paces Habs
Henri Richard scored a goal just nine seconds after the opening faceoff and then set up another in the third period to power the Montreal Canadiens past the host Chicago Black Hawks 2-1 last night in the Windy City.
Richard picked up a loose puck just inside the Chicago blue line and roared in alone on Hawks goalie Glenn Hall. The Pocket Rocket beat Hall from about 15 feet with a beautiful shot to the corner.
The game then turned into a close-checking affair, with neither team mounting any type of sustained attack. It wasn’t until 7:16 of the third that the game’s second goal was scored.
Claude Provost gave Canadiens a 2-0 lead when he connected during a wild scramble in front of Hall. Richard received the only assist.
The Black Hawks finally beat Habs netminder Gump Worsley with eight and a half minutes to play. Defenseman Pat Stapleton, brought up Saturday from St. Louis of the CPHL, fooled Worsley with a shot from about 25 feet out. Worsley slammed the door after that and the Canadiens skated off with a valuable two points.
Wings Bus in Accident
Word comes out that a bus carrying the Detroit Red Wings from the Montreal airport to the Forum was involved in an accident before Saturday’s game. While some of the Red Wings were shaken up by the incident, none of the injuries were thought to be serious.
Detroit coach Sid Abel said, “Gordie and some of the boys were a little scraped.”
Abel said that defenseman Bryan Watson received some sort of back injury, but it wasn’t severe enough to keep him out of the lineup.
The great white hope of the Boston Bruins, 17-year-old Bobby Orr of the OHA Junior A Oshawa Generals, was injured in yesterday’s game against the Toronto Marlboros. Initial reports indicated that Orr suffered a knee injury when he was dealt a solid bodycheck by Marlies defenseman Brian Glennie.
The highly skilled youngster, a defenseman who has been at or near the top of the OHA Junior A scoring list all season, left the game in the third period after playing a few shifts at half-speed after the hit. It seemed obvious at the time of the hit that Orr had injured his left knee, and he certainly skated that way in his brief subsequent appearance. However after the game, it was reported that the young phenom had been diagnosed with a pulled hamstring, and Bruins management likely uttered a collective sigh of relief.
Oshawa general manager Wren Blair said that he didn’t know how long Orr would be sidelined.
I just hope it isn’t long. It’s awful to have a player like that out with an injury.
While Orr is generally regarded as the key to the resurrection of the moribund Bruins franchise, the entire Boston junior system is cause for great hope for the Beantowners. Both of their Ontario junior teams are battling for first place, with the Generals finally passing the slumping Niagara Falls Flyers on the strength of yesterday’s 6-6 tie with the Marlboros. The Flyers were idle on the weekend.
Before he was injured Orr had scored two goals against Toronto (to go along with two more he had the night before). A great junior crowd of 10,378 were on hand at Maple Leaf Gardens, with most there to see why all the fuss is being made about the kid defender. Until he was hurt, they certainly couldn’t have been disappointed.
Another LA Group Seeks NHL Team
Another group seeking a National Hockey League expansion franchise for Los Angeles has surfaced. NHL president Clarence Campbell said on the weekend that a collective made up of several prominent Hollywood people, led by well-known television producer Tony Owen, has submitted an application to the league.
Two of Owen’s cohorts are Mervyn Leroy, a film industry executive, and Harry Ornest, a former American League official who now resides in the Los Angeles area.
There are two other groups competing for the Los Angeles team. Former Torontonian Jack Kent Cooke, who used to own the Toronto Maple Leafs baseball team in the International League, leads one syndicate. The other group, which is given the inside track by most observers, is headed by Dan Reeves and Jim Piggot, owners of the Los Angeles Blades of the Western Hockey League.
Retired police detective, involved in hockey at all levels for over 50 years. Member of Society for International Hockey Research and presently a video analyst for the leader in advanced hockey analytics (we work exclusively for 2 NHL clubs, and provide advice on an ad hoc basis to many other clients). Currently the Assistant General Manager for the Pelham Pirates of the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League. Previously owned the Faceoff computer hockey simulation and also provided all player ratings for the EA Sports series of NHL computer games from the late 90’s into the mid 2000’s.