Although the Toronto Maple Leafs are Stanley Cup champions, they ended 1964 on a losing note in the worst way, blowing a lead and dropping a 4-3 home-ice decision to the Montreal Canadiens.
Leafs led 2-0
Toronto started well and jumped out to a 2-0 first period lead on goals by Red Kelly and Dave Keon. The margin might have been greater had it not been for the fine goaltending of Montreal’s Charlie Hodge.
The middle frame saw the Canadiens battle back to even the count at twos. Claude Larose notched his 10th at 2:19. Bobby Rousseau followed up a little over 15 minutes later with his seventh of the campaign, cashing in on a rebound off a shot by former Leaf Dick Duff.
Canadiens took the lead for good at 8:34 of the third, with John Ferguson doing the honours on a nice give-and-go play with Ralph Backstrom. Defenceman Jean-Guy Talbot upped the count to 4-2 with what proved to be the winning goal with a short-handed effort at 11:05. Talbot, who earlier in the season had lost playing time to rookie Ted Harris, has come back over the past couple of weeks to be Montreal’s most consistent defender.
Toronto rookie Ron Ellis brought the Leafs to within one goal with 16 seconds left in the game, but the Leafs could not come close in the final quarter-minute as the Habs managed to hang on for the win.
Charlie Hodge the star
Hodge made 27 saves overall and was the principle reason the Canadiens won this one. Leaf netminder Terry Sawchuk wasn’t at his best, making only 18 saves.
Montreal’s victory gives them sole possession of first place, two points ahead of the streaking Chicago Black Hawks. The Leafs remain in fourth, five points ahead of the New York Rangers.
Changes coming for Toronto?
Toronto coach Punch Imlach was not happy after the game, and although changes may be called for, they won’t be happening immediately.
“I’ll stand pat in the next four games. Then, if we’re still lousy, I’ll know what changes to make and I’ll make them big. We had some good chances, but I’ll admit that we played so loose it’s enough to kill you.”
In assessing his team, he said, “Yeah, we’re hurting on the left wing, but there’s a few other spots not coming up with the biscuits. I’d have to say that the kid on right wing is playing so good he should get a medal. He is playing beyond the call of duty.”
The “kid on right wing” of course, is Ron Ellis, scorer of Toronto’s third goal.
AHL: Hornets, Amerks win
Claude Laforge led the Pittsburgh Hornets to a 3-1 win over Springfield while Peter Stemkowski scored the winner as the Rochester Americans downed Buffalo by a similar count in the two American Hockey League games played last night.
In Pittsburgh, Laforge scored the winner, and added an insurance goal for the Wasps. He scored the go-ahead goal on a tip-in of a Pete Goegan point shot. Butch Paul had the first Pittsburgh goal, after Pete Shearer had given the Indians a 1-0 lead.
At Buffalo, Stemkowski scored an unassisted marker to snap a 1-1 tie midway through the third period to propel Rochester to its win over the Bisons. Art Stratton’s power play goal had given the Bisons a 1-0 lead before Gerry Ehman tied it late in the first period. Stan Smrke scored the final Rochester goal with 45 seconds to play after Buffalo had pulled goalie Ed Chadwick in favour of an extra attacker.
OHA: Dukes edge Rangers, Junior Habs over St. Kitts
Toronto Marlboros edged the Kitchener Rangers 6-5, while the Montreal Junior Canadiens downed St. Catharines 3-1 in the two OHA Junior A games played last night.
Toronto came from behind to claim their win in Kitchener. Paul Laurent and Brit Selby fired two goals each, with Sam Allen and Wayne Mosdell, with the game-winner, adding singles. Sandy Fitzpatrick had a pair for the Rangers. Other Kitchener goal-getters were Bob Jones, Mike Robitaille and Jack McCreary.
At St. Catharines, rookie goalie Fern Rivard led the Junior Canadiens to their win over the Black Hawks. He was especially sharp in the third period when the Hawks outshot Montreal 12-2, but could only manage a goal by Doug Shelton. Montreal got markers from Norm Ferguson, Bob Lemieux and Jacques Lemaire.
Habs prospects to face Czechs
A team made of 16 Montreal Canadiens junior prospects will face off against the Czech national team next Tuesday night at the Forum in Montreal. Leading the way for the juniors will be a 19-year-old diminutive centre who is being called “one of the greatest junior stars to ever come out of Western Canada.”
Fran Huck, who has scored 50 goals in only 29 games for the Regina Pats this season, is the player who has the Montreal organization extremely excited. He is by far the leading scorer in the Saskatchewan Junior A league, en route to repeating or bettering his 153 point performance of a year ago.
Huck, who stands only 5′, 7″ and weighs in at just 155 pounds, will be meeting the Czechs for the second time. Last year he scored three times as the Western Junior All-Stars tied them 4-4.