50 Years Ago in Hockey – Cup Champs De-Throned

There will be a new Stanley Cup Champion for 1965.  That fact was confirmed last night at 16:33 of the first overtime period at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto as the Canadiens defeated the  Maple Leafs 4-3.  The Montreal victory gives them their Stanley Cup semi-final series four games to two over the former champs.

It was Claude Provost’s second goal of the series that propelled the Habs to the final round.  He scored on a backhand from about 20 feet in front of Leaf goalie Johnny Bower.  Henri Richard had recovered the puck behind the net and sent a pass toward the front.  Red Berenson (who did not receive an assist on the play) tipped it to Provost, who made no mistake.

Claude Provost's overtime goal sends the Habs to the Stanley Cup finals.
Claude Provost’s overtime goal sends the Habs to the Stanley Cup finals.

The Leafs looked ready to send the series to a seventh game early on.  They grabbed a 3-1 first period lead, with all three scores coming within a 99-second span.

Dave Keon opened the scoring at 2:10, followed just over a minute later by a Red Kelly goal.  John Ferguson got one back for Montreal only a minute and twenty-one seconds later.  But Ron Ellis restored the two-goal Toronto lead 17 seconds after that.

Ron Ellis

It was all down hill for the Leafs after that third goal – they would not score another one this season.

Jacques Laperriere narrowed the Toronto lead to 3-2 at 9:20 of the second period.  It became increasingly obvious that the veteran legs of the Leafs were wearing down as the younger, faster Canadiens took over the play.  Bobby Rousseau finally tied the score at 6:27 of the third, setting up an exciting overtime session.

High and low: Jacques Laperriere scored a goal and later broke his ankle.
High and low: Jacques Laperriere scored a goal and later broke his ankle.

Gump Worsley went from goat to hero, as he was shaky in the early moments when it appeared Toronto would chase him quickly.  The Gumper settled down after those first four hectic minutes and assumed the hero’s mantle, blanking the Leafs the rest of the way.

Henri Richard described the winning goal:

“J.C. Tremblay shot the puck in from the blue line and I went in behind the goal after it.  I got it out in front and Red Berenson tipped it to Provost.  Claude scored from, I think, 20 feet.”

Provost, one of the top scoring right wings in the game this year, was relieved to have broken out of his recent slump.

“It was so long between goals that I never expected to get any more. But I sure pick my right time!

“Richard’s pass was rolling when it came to me but I was all alone and I was able to backhand it into the net.  I was lucky.”

Bower said he had no chance on the goal, as it deflected off Kent Douglas’ stick.

“The puck would have hit me in the chest if Kent’s stick hadn’t deflected it.  I just didn’t play well enough and Worsley was sensational.”

Worsley, who complained of shattered nerves throughout one of the most tense series in years, sat in the dressing room puffing on a cigarette.  He described his big save of the game, an act of larceny committed upon David Keon of Toronto late in the second period.

Gump Worsley
Gump Worsley

“I think Keon was so surprised to see the open net that he delayed shooting for a fraction.  So the puck hit me on the pad.  I’ll say this, when you’re not there and then get there, it’s a hell of a save.”

Worsley will now be playing in the first Stanley Cup final of his 12-year NHL career.

Toronto coach Punch Imlach blamed poor penalty killing  for the demise of his squad.

Punch Imlach blames poor penalty killing for loss.
Punch Imlach blames poor penalty killing for loss.

“The story of the whole series was our inability to kill penalties.  Last year in 14 playoff games we only allowed two goals while we were short-handed.  This year Canadiens got 11 in six games.

“But I’m not complaining.  Hail the winners and to hell with the losers.  That’s the way it is in this game.  We put up a pretty good fight.  We went into overtime and I thought we had it all over them in the overtime.  But they got the goal.

“It was probably the best game of the series.  But I still think we could have played a lot better.  Just look at all the scoring summaries and you’ll see who didn’t play well for us.”

The superstitious Imlach lamented the fact that Dame Lady Luck had deserted his troop when she was most needed.

“Lady Luck just ran out. This was the suit I wore for three Stanley Cup victories.”

Montreal coach Toe Blake was looking ahead to the finals.

“We’ve had a terrible time against Detroit all season.  We’ve only beaten them four times and we’ve lost eight.  Against Chicago we have a 6-5 edge.

“Besides, if we meet the Hawks, we have the extra home game going for us, since we finished ahead of them during the schedule.”

Canadiens will be without star defenceman  Laperriere for the rest of the playoffs.  He suffered a broken left ankle when he crashed into the boards in the third period.  He will be replaced by rookie Noel Picard.

Blake had high praise for his defensive unit.

“Highlight of the series, I thought, was our defensive play. J.C. Tremblay was outstanding.  Ted Harris became a first-stringer.  Laperriere played better than he had in months.

“Our checking was good and we got excellent goaltending.  All this led to one key thing:  Leafs couldn’t capitalize on our penalties and we cashed in on theirs.”

Dick Duff
Dick Duff

Former Leaf Dick Duff, a key performer for Canadiens now, summed up Toronto’s effort in the series perfectly.

“You gotta hand it to  them, they died with their heads up.”