50 Years Ago in Hockey – Hustling Hawks Force Seventh Game

In a complete reversal of the form they displayed Tuesday night, the Chicago Black Hawks played an efficient, effective, solidly defensive game to edge the Montreal Canadiens 2-1 last night in Chicago.  The Hawk victory forces a seventh and deciding game in the Stanley Cup final series Saturday evening in Montreal.

Mohns the hero

Doug Mohns, acquired as a defenceman last summer from Boston, but most valuable as the left wing on the Scooter Line, was the hero for Chicago.  Mohns assisted on the tying goal by Elmer Vasko and scored the game-winner.

Doug Mohns was the hero for the Hawks tonight.
Doug Mohns was the hero for the Hawks tonight.

The teams battled, literally, through a scoreless first period that was punctuated by a couple of minor skirmishes and one major brawl.

Brawls highlight first period

Phil Esposito and Henri Richard tangled after only a minute and a half of play, sort of a preliminary for the main event, which went down at 6:41.

Main combatants were Dick Duff and Stan Mikita, Mohns and Terry Harper.  The ice resembled a square dance where the music had been discontinued mid-song, with various couples milling around, gloves and sticks strewn about the ice surface.

Stan Mikita and Dick Duff in the main event while Elmer Vasko (4) tries to get a closer look.
Stan Mikita and Dick Duff in the main event while Elmer Vasko (4) tries to get a closer look.

Referee Frank Udvari, mindful of the importance of this particular match, was careful to give neither team an advantage.  Duff and Mohns received five-minute majors for their parts, while Harper and Mikita had to serve sentences of 17 minutes each for their transgressions.

The teams must have gotten the brawling out of their collective systems with that opening frame fracas, as only five minor penalties were whistled by Udvari the rest of the way.

Backstrom finally scores

Ralph Backstrom opened the scoring for Montreal with just over three minutes left in the second period.  Backstrom converted a Ted Harris pass with a golf-like shot from well out past a screened Glenn Hall in the Chicago net.  The goal was the first for Backstrom in 11 games, dating back to the Canadiens’ first game against Toronto.

Ralph Backstrom scored his frist goal in 11 games.
Ralph Backstrom scored his frist goal in 11 games.

At that point Canadiens were dominating the play and it certainly seemed that the Habs would capture the cup on the road.

Moose ties it up

Things looked good for Montreal until the 6:06 mark of the third period when Elmer Vasko tied the game for Chicago.  Yes, that Elmer Vasko. The Elmer Vasko that scored one (1) goal this entire season, and had, up until tonight, one (1) career playoff goal.  That playoff goal was scored in 1961.

Elmer Vasko scored his first playoff goal since 1961.
Elmer Vasko scored his first playoff goal since 1961.

Mohns started the play with a shot at Montreal goalie Charley Hodge.  Hodge missed it, but the puck hit the goal post, rolled along the goal line and then struck the other post.  It rebounded to Vasko, who found himself in  unfamiliar territory so close to the Montreal goal.  Vasko swiped at the dancing disk which found its way to the back of the net.

That tally sent the nearly 20,000 Chicago fans into a frenzy that provided a palpable lift to the home side.  The Hawks stormed the Montreal goal for the next few minutes, forcing Hodge to make several great saves.

Game-winner in off Mohns’ skate

Mohns scored the winner just over two minutes after Vasko had tied it.  Stan Mikita won a faceoff to the left of Hodge and got the puck back to Pierre Pilote at the point.  Pilote was pressured and shoveled the puck back to Mikita .  Mikita threw a pass about a foot off the ice across the front of the net.  Mohns took a wild, baseball-style swing at the pass and appeared to miss.  However, the puck struck his skate and deflected perfectly past Hodge to put the Hawks in front.

Stan Mikita set up the game-winner.
Stan Mikita set up the game-winner.

Mohns said afterwards, “It hit my stick first, then my skate and bounced in.”

The now nearly delirious crowd littered the ice with all manner of debris, causing a delay of several minutes while arena staff restored a playable surface.

From that point on, the Black Hawks checked Canadiens into the ice, giving the usually free-wheeling Habs no room to manoeuvre.  They received a scare in the final 30 seconds when Bobby Rousseau broke free for a clear-cut scoring opportunity.  Hall managed to smother Rousseau’s chance to preserve the win.

Reay: I’m worn out

Chicago coach Billy Reay was happy but exhausted after the game.

“I’m worn out.  This was our 13th playoff game and there is still one to go.  The crowd sure helped us. It’s nice to hear the home crowd but it was a close game.

“For once I actually thought we played well enough to win one.

“The Canadiens are skating better at this point than Detroit was.  The Red Wings wore down and Montreal hasn’t.  The fresher team will win it.”

Blake chides writers, refs

Montreal coach Toe Blake felt reporters were pestering him far too much to get a comment about the officiating.  He snarled at one scribe:

“I don’t want to criticize anyone.  Quit trying to get me to say things.  You saw the game the same as I did.”

Toe Blake
Toe Blake

The line of questioning continued, however, and Blake finally relented and gave the writers what they wanted.

“Listen, I saw a man extra on the ice for 25 seconds.”

Blake also opined that Bobby Hull receives special treatment from the zebras.

“It’s no use trying to buck the referees, because Chicago thinks the referees are great.  Why don’t you guys put down what you see out there?  Did the referee give any particular attention when Henri Richard was pulled down crossing centre?

“Just like when Harper pulled down Hull.  But that guy (Hull) is one of the favourites around here.  Hull can do anything and get by with it.”

For his part, Hull felt that the pressure exerted upon him by Canadiens early in the series was not as great in game six.

“They’re starting to loosen up on me a bit.”

The Montreal squad wasted no time getting dressed and leaving the rink.  They were in a hurry to catch a special train back to Montreal  immediately after the game.


  • Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Terry Sawchuk says he has no plans to retire and will report to any team that owns him next fall.  There has been speculation that Sawchuk will be left unprotected by Toronto in favour of young Gerry Cheevers.  Both Boston and Detroit have expressed interest in the veteran.
Could Terry Sawchuk return to Boston?
Could Terry Sawchuk return to Boston?
  • The Chicago Black Hawks have announced that they will train at home in Chicago next fall, instead of in St. Catharines, Ontario.  This is the first time in 22 years  there has not been an NHL training camp in the Garden City.
  • Frank Boucher, commissioner of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, says that he believes that the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association should scrap its plans to develop a national team for international play.
  • The New York Rangers now have three professional golfers on their team – Jean Ratelle, Vic Hadfield and John Brenneman.  The more cynical among us may suggest that is only natural, since the Broadway Blueshirts usually get an earlier start on the golf season than most of their counterparts.