Ron Ellis continued a personal hot streak by scoring two goals to pace the Toronto Maple Leafs to a 3-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens in one of three National Hockey League games last night. In the other games, the Chicago Black Hawks downed the New York Rangers 5-2 while Pit Martin’s three goals powered the Boston Bruins to a 5-4 victory over the Detroit Red Wings.
Eight Goals in Seven Games
Ellis, who struggled mightily for the first half of this season, has eight goals and one assist in his last seven matches. He was at a loss to explain the reason for the turnaround in his game, but he credited line mates Wally Boyer and Brit Selby:
“Our line was moving well. We now have a plus record, are beginning to click offensively as well as defensively.
“I don’t think I’m doing anything I didn’t do in the first 35 games except put the puck in the net. I was working just as hard, shooting the same way, but nothing seemed to pay off.
“I could have skated all night. I felt real good, maybe that had something to do with it. But personally I think it’s because we’re starting to jell as a line.”
Montreal held the lead briefly in this one. Jean Beliveau gave the Habs the lead just past the 15-minute mark of the opening session. The Leafs tied it up about three minutes later when Ellis scored his 14th of the year.
The teams skated through a scoreless second period before Ellis potted the game winner at 9:10 of the final frame. Bob Pulford added an empty-net goal with one second to play to make the final 3-1.
Leafs coach Punch Imlach was happy with his team’s play and specifically the play of the Boyer-Ellis-Selby threesome.
“That was one of our better games and the kids supplied the spark. I’ve been tossing them out against the best lines in the league for a month and they seldom get pushed around. If they keep improving – and I think they will – it could spell Stanley Cup.
“It’s been a long time since we’ve had three solid lines and didn’t have to juggle personnel in order to stand off the top lines of rival teams.”
Hull Nets No. 46
Bobby Hull made his return to the Black Hawks lineup a successful one. He scored his 46th goal of the season as Chicago topped the Rangers 5-2. Coupled with the Detroit and Montreal losses, the Hawks have taken a four-point lead in first place in the NHL standings.
Hull opened the scoring with goal number 46 at 7:27 of the first period on a 35-foot slap shot. Other Chicago marksmen were Phil Esposito, Ken Hodge, Eric Nesterenko and Bill Hay.
Rookie call-up Paul Andrea was the best of the Rangers. He scored their first goal and set up Earl Ingarfield for the other.
Hull was happy with his game but was even more pleased with how he felt. It was his first game since suffering strained knee ligaments and he looked no worse for wear.
I feel fine and I don’t see why I can’t play all the games left in the season. The pressure of nearing the record doesn’t mean a thing to me. In fact, I don’t even think about it.
Hull now needs just four goals to tie the record of 50 in a season. That record is held by Maurice (Rocket) Richard, Bernie (Boom Boom) Geoffrion and Hull himself.
Hat Trick for Pit
Pit Martin continues to pay dividends for the Boston Bruins. Acquired earlier this season from the Detroit Red Wings, Martin came back to haunt his former mates last night as the Bruins clipped the Wings 5-4 in Boston.
Martin scored three times and set up Ron Stewart’s game-winning tally. The win enabled the Bruins to move into sole possession of fifth place in the NHL standings.
The other Boston goal was scored by John McKenzie. He is yet another player picked up in a mid-season trade by the Bruins.
Floyd Smith, Bruce MacGregor, Norm Ullman and Bill Gadsby connected for Detroit.
The Bruins dominated the final 20 minutes. They pumped 25 shots at Detroit goalie Roger Crozier, who put in a valiant effort. But it was Boston goalie Ed Johnston who starred in the last minute of play. The Red Wings mounted a furious rally in the final 60 seconds and had several great scoring chances, only to be thwarted by Johnston.
Minnesota Already Selling Tickets
They don’t have a name. They don’t have a coach or a general manager. They don’t even have an arena to play in. But they have fans, and the fans are willing to pay.
The new Minnesota National Hockey League franchise already has 150 season ticket subscribers for the 1967-68 season. Chairman Gordon Ritz says that 150 people have sent in cheques and more cheques and inquiries are coming in daily.
Ritz is 39 and was born in Montreal, living there for the first 10 years of his life. He says that hockey is just as popular in Minnesota as it is in Canada.
“We have 22,500 registered hockey players in Minneapolis-St. Paul. There is a league in which 130 high schools play. Only eight schools are still playing, and about 50,000 people will attend the high school championships this weekend.”
There have been several NHL players from the state, including Tommy Williams, who plays for Boston. Others who have seen action in the big league are Cully Dahlstrom, Frank Brimsek and Sam LoPresti.
Ritz feels that the NHL team is a safe bet in Minnesota.
“The present NHL teams are selling out at 94 per cent capacity and that was good enough for me. And I like the idea of starting in our own separate division.
There’s a tremendous demand for professional hockey at the big league level. One thing I’m convinced of is that you can’t play minor league sports in a big-league town.
Ritz says a new arena will be built near the stadia where the baseball Twins and football Vikings play. He says that the rink will hold 12,500 for hockey when it’s completed, but that it is designed to be easily expandable to 18,000.
New Pittsburgh Entry Swamped with Ticket Orders
The new NHL franchise in Pittsburgh had barely managed to set up shop before the phones started ringing. Fans were calling for ticket information the first day and they haven’t stopped yet.
The call volume has been so great that the original team staff has been unable to handle all the requests for tickets. So, the team has hired a telephone answering service to handle all ticket inquiries.
Peter Block and Senator Jack McGregor said last night that the response has been overwhelming:
“The response to our announcement that season ticket orders would be accepted has been so overwhelming that we just can’t handle it in our offices in the Law and Finance Building.”
Politicians Hammer NHL Expansion Plan
Politicians in both Canada and the United States are not happy with the process by which the National Hockey League selected is six new franchises. And they are all suggesting that various steps should be taken.
Dr. Pat McGeer (L – Vancouver Point Grey) wants to establish a royal commission to investigate the hockey “slave trade” in Canada. He explained his position to the British Columbia Legislature:
“I want to see a federal royal commission examining the status of amateur athletes in Canada and the relationship between professional and amateur hockey.
“Professional hockey is indeed a slave trade for a handful of greedy hockey promoters who are principally in the United States.”
Meanwhile, south of the border, United States senator Daniel Brewster (Dem. Maryland) urged an investigation into the NHL’s expansion actions. Baltimore, Maryland was expected to be named as one of the six new NHL teams, but they were snubbed in a surprising move by the league.
Brewster wrote a letter to Senator Phillip A. Hart, who is chairman of a Senate subcommittee looking into anti-trust actions. In the letter he said:
“I believe that an immediate investigation of the NHL’s recent action should be undertaken in order to determine whether further legislation is necessary.”
And in Alberta, William Dickie, the Liberal representative for Calgary-Glemore in the Alberta Legislature says he will introduce a bill next week that will ensure that young Alberta athletes are protected from abuses by professional teams.
Dickie told a press conference that he had worked on this idea for years. The recent announcement by the National Hockey League of its expansion to six United States cities prompted him to move things up and reveal his plan.
Dickie says that the bill will provide freedom of choice for young Alberta hockey players once they turn 18.
The NHL owns Canada’s youth lock, stock and barrel and I want to help the youngsters of this province. When they turn 18 I want them to decide which NHL team they go to, not have that decision made for them.
Dickie’s bill would essentially turn all young hockey players into free agents once they reach the age of 18. They would then be open to be signed by the highest bidder. The bill is titled “The Young Athletes Protection Act.”
Of course, the bill could be scuttled if the National Hockey League teams came to an internal agreement to not sign free agents. Some sort of draft similar to that in the National Football League could be instituted by the league, and Alberta would be powerless to stop it.