The BostonBruins finally earned their first point of the season last night, and it came at the expense of the Stanley Cup Champions. The Bruins battled the Toronto Maple Leafs to a 2-2 tie at the Boston Garden before just 8,068 witnesses in a strange, scrambly game.. It was the only NHL contest scheduled.
A weird, unusual game
Weirdness dominated the night. Both of Boston’s goals were scored while playing a man short against one of the league’s best power play units. Even more curious, both of those goals were scored by Reggie Fleming, a player more accustomed to serving penalties rather than killing them. Referee John Ashley even got in the spirit by making several questionable, seldom-used calls, including one that led directly to Toronto’s game-tying goal. Ashley’s work earned him severe criticism from Bruins’ coach Milt Schmidt.
Fleming’s first goal was scored in the initial period during a Toronto power play, and gave the Bruins a 1-0 lead. Forbes Kennedy had knocked Frank Mahovlich down in the corner, and it appeared that he had fallen on the puck. However, it was loose and came to Fleming, whose sharp-angle shot caught the far corner on Leaf netminder Johnny Bower. Bower later said that he was screened on the play by defenceman Kent Douglas.
Fleming’s second marker came just past the nine minute mark of the second period while Tom Johnson was serving a minor. Toronto got that one back about five minutes later, thanks to a scoring play by AndyBathgate. Fleming actually could have scored a third goal. While the Bruins had a two-man advantage in the first period, Fleming beat Bower but the puck rang off the goal post and managed to stay out of the net.
Controversial tying goal
In the final frame, the Leafs tied the game up on a goal by Bob Pulford. The circumstances leading up to the tally infuriated Schmidt. During a faceoff taking place in the Boston zone just past the nine minute mark, Ashley took the slightly unusual action of throwing Boston centre Bobby Leiter out of the circle. Leiter was replaced by Fleming, who promptly lost the draw. That led immediately to shots on goal by Eddie Shack and Pulford, both of which Johnston stopped. He was unable to control a rebound which was corralled by Ron Stewart, who managed to push the puck to Pulford. Pully made no mistake and fired the puck past a beleaguered Eddie Johnston and into the net.
The post-game quotes may have been the most interesting part of the night. Fleming, who has a grand total of 21 goals in 268 career games, was clearly enjoying the moment. “It was not the first time I have scored two goals in a game in this league. I scored two agains the Leafs, Detroit and Canadiens in the playoffs while with Chicago. But this is the first time I have scored two while my team was short handed.”
“I told you guys I was capable of playing if the other fellows didn’t foul me. I only got nasty when they tried to take advantage of my good nature. But right now I’m not so sure this new role is doing as much good as when I was rough-housing.”
Milt Schmidt unhappy
Schmidt, meanwhile, blamed Ashley for stealing a win from the Bruins. “My guys deserved to win and that guy took victory away from them with a bad call. He threw Bobby Leiter out of the faceoff in our zone. You’d think the fans paid to see those guys and not the players. They’re ruining the game.”
Red Burnett of the Toronto Star reported that he saw Leiter do nothing that warranted banishment from the faceoff circle, since Ashley had made no movement to drop the puck.
NHL referee-in-chief Carl Voss happened to be at the game and, quite predictably, felt Ashley had done a fine officiating job. He said that Leiter had been warned several times about his behaviour in the faceoff circle, and that Ashley had every reason to order him out.
Schmidt also was unhappy with a curious penalty Ashley assessed to Boston goaltender Johnston. According to Schmidt: “Johnston was moving around with the puck in the crease, and he bumped Kelly and they gave him (Johnston) the penalty.”
Habs lose Harper
Montreal Canadiens have announced that defenceman Terry Harper has been lost to the team indefinitely. Montreal club surgeon, Dr. Hampson, said Harper suffered a chip fracture of one of the lumbar vertebrae during Wednesday night’s game against Chicago. Dr. Hampson does not consider the injury to be serious. To replace Harper, the Canadiens have recalled Bryan Watson from the Quebec Aces of the American Hockey League.
Bisons to fly more
Fred Hunt, general manager of the American Hockey League’s Buffalo Bisons announced yesterday that the team will be flying to more AHL cities, eschewing the longer bus trips. Hunt says the Bisons will take a plane to Quebec, Springfield, Hershey and Baltimore. In the past, Buffalo usually traveled by bus to all those cities, flying occasionally to Quebec, or taking the train from Toronto. The Bisons will be using Mid-Eastern Airways, an airline based in Rochester.
Jack Crawford, the coach of the Baltimore Clippers claims his team is blessed with the best defensive unit in the AHL. His five blueliners include Aldo Guidolin, Larry Cahan, Noel Price, Ron Ingram and Mike McMahon. All five have considerable NHL experience.
Marlies win big in OHA
In the only OHA game, Toronto Marlboros shot down the Hamilton Red Wings 8-4 at the Hamilton Forum. A six-goal third period for Toronto was the difference in this game. Mike Corrigan and Barry Watson led the way for the Marlies with a pair of goals each. Other Marlboro markers came from Neil Clarke, Paul Laurent, Brit Selby and Doug Dunville. Hamilton scorers were Kevin Loveless with a pair, and Jim Young and Real Lemieux with singles.
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.