50 Years Ago in Hockey: How the Bruins Bagged Bernie

Perennial cellar dwellers of the National Hockey League Basement, the Boston Bruins sport a rather ignominious record of one win, five losses and one tie so far in the 1965-66 season. Despite this early lack of success, general manager Hap Emms and coach Milt Schmidt remain enthusiastic and hopeful that better days are ahead for a team that has not made the playoffs since 1959.

Youngsters Give Bruins Hope

Boston rookie goalie Bernie Parent
Boston rookie goalie Bernie Parent

One of the reasons for such renewed optimism is the number of fine young players who have either joined the Bruins this season, or are not far away from making the jump to the big league. Leading the parade of talented youngsters is one Bernard Parent, who hails from Montreal. How a young, goaltender with such vast potential made it to Boston instead of ending up in Montreal is a story in itself.

Bernard Parent was born in Montreal 20 years ago. As most young boys living in Canada’s largest city, he grew up with a hockey stick in his hand, idolizing the Montreal Canadiens and in particular, Habs’ goalkeeper Jacques Plante. Young Parent tried to emulate many parts of Plante’s game and even wears a fibreglass face mask manufactured for him by Plante while he was still in junior.

Habs Scouts Had Missed Him

Parent began his junior hockey career after playing minor hockey in the Longue Pointe district of Montreal. He started in the Montreal Metro league with the Rosemont Bombers. It wasn’t long that he established himself as the best goalkeeper in the league, and Canadiens, who had hitherto been unaware of the pudgy youngster, sent their scouts to see if the glowing reports they were getting were true. One look at how Parent dominated the Metro league told the Habs all they wanted to know. There was just one fly in the ointment.

Montreal sponsored four clubs in the Metro loop, but Rosemont wasn’t one of them. Just before Parent’s 18th birthday, the Canadiens attempted to have Bernie transferred to the Lachine Maroons, one of Montreal’s sponsored teams. The sponsors of Rosemont, recognizing what a draw Parent was as an east-end boy playing at home, blocked the move.

The result was that young Parent became, at age 18, available to any of the six NHL teams, since Canadiens had not managed to sign him to a C form. Had this situation taken place now, two years later, Parent would have been selected in the new NHL Amateur Draft. In this case, he was awarded to the Boston Bruins, since they were the last-place team in the NHL.

Led Niagara Falls to Memorial Cup

Bernie Parent with Niagara Falls
Bernie Parent with Niagara Falls

The Bruins knew they had a good one on their hands, but they also knew that for the boy to develop, he’d have to face stiffer competition. He was sent to the Niagara Falls Flyers of the Ontario Junior A League, the Bruins top junior club. The Flyers at the time were owned, coached and managed by Hap Emms, present Boston general manager.

Parent spent two seasons in Niagara Falls, leading the OHA Junior A Series in goals-against average both seasons. In 1964-65 he led the Flyers to the Memorial Cup with a spectacular goaltending performance. In the playoffs, he won 11 times, while losing only once. His goals-against average was a microscopic 1.51. It was clear that Parent would be turning professional in 1965-66 and chances were good he’d be with the Bruins.

Bruins rookie goalie Gerry Cheevers.
Bruins rookie goalie Gerry Cheevers.

Parent didn’t make the Bruins out of training camp. Veteran Ed Johnston held on to his number one seeding, and another young netminder, Gerry Cheevers, who was drafted in the summer from Toronto, won the backup job. Emms and Schmidt decided that the 20-year-old Parent would benefit from some seasoning in the Central Professional Hockey League, so it was off to Oklahoma City for Bernie.

Started Year in CPHL

After three games in Oklahoma City, with the Bruins losing and Johnston and Cheevers hurting, Emms put in the call to Oklahoma to send Parent east. In his first NHL game, against the powerful and undefeated Chicago Black Hawks, Parent made 40 saves in a 2-2 tie, a result that couldn’t have been foreseen by anyone who had watched the teams this season. Even more impressive was that for the first time this year the Golden Jet, Bobby Hull, was held scoreless for an entire game.

Both teams raved about Parent’s performance, with good reason. The Hawks dominated the game, but were just unable to get the youngster to cave under the pressure. It was truly a storybook debut for the youthful netminder.

The almost magical debut continued this week in Montreal. In his first game back in his home town, Parent was brilliant once again, and his stellar work enabled the Bruins to win their first game of the season against no less than the Stanley Cup champions. After the game, both Emms and Schmidt said that based on his work thus far, Parent has earned a spot on the team for the rest of the year.

Stand-up Style Result of Hard Work

Parent is known as a stand-up type of goalie who plays his angles far better than most goaltenders of his age and experience. But Emms says that Parent wasn’t always the stand-up type.

Parent wasn’t always a stand-up goalie. When he first came to Niagara Falls, he used to drop much too often. So I put a $1 fine against him every time he flopped without good reason. After each game I would tell him ‘That’s $10 or $5 you owe me.’ Of course we never took the money from him, but he always thought we would, and the threat helped him.

Niagara Falls, London Win in OHA

Two games were played in the OHA Junior A league last night. The Niagara Falls Flyers whipped the Toronto Marlboros 7-3 in Niagara Falls, while the London Knights doubled the Kitchener Rangers 4-2.

Flyers Unbeaten in Nine

The Flyers win at home extended their unbeaten skein to nine games. Early on, it didn’t look like that would happen, as Toronto jumped out to a 1-0 lead with the game barely one minute old. Gerry Meehan had the goal, set up by Mike Corrigan and Jimmy Keon. Niagara tied it up before the end of the first on a Steve Atkinson goal.

Rosaire Paiement
Rosaire Paiement

The Flyers scored three times in the middle frame to take a 4-1 lead and were never headed after that. Steve Atkinson, Mike Sherman and Rosaire Paiement were the marksmen.

In the final 20 minutes, Sherman connected for his second of the night, and was joined in the Niagara scoring parade by John Arbour and Ted Snell to round out the Niagara total. Toronto did manage a couple of goals of their own, off the sticks of Doug Dunnville and Corrigan.

Bob Ring, who had a brief whirl with Boston last week, started in goal for the Flyers but left the game with an injury after being run over in the goal crease by Corrigan in the first period. He was replaced by Dunc Wilson, who played well the rest of the way.

Al Smith took care of the netminding duties for Toronto.   

Murray Scores Two for Nats

Defenseman Randy Murray was the scoring hero for London in their win over Kitchener. Murray scored two second-period goals, providing the difference for the Nationals in their 4-2 win. Other London scorers were Neil Clairmont and Neil Clark.

John Beechy scored both Kitchener goals.

The win was the third in 10 games for London, who are competing in their first OHA Junior A season.

Aces Trump Indians

Leon Rochefort

The Quebec Aces ran roughshod over the Springfield Indians last night. Led by Leon Rochefort’s five-point night, the Acemen cruised to a 9-3 win over visiting Springfield.

Rochefort scored three times for Quebec, and added a pair of helpers. Other Quebec goal scorers were Keke Mortson and Guy Gendron with two markers apiece, and singles by Wayne Hicks and Don Blackburn.

For the Indians it was Jimmy Anderson, Brian Smith and Randy Miller.

Canucks Blast Seattle

The Vancouver Canucks came up with the Western Hockey League’s most one-sided win this year as they demolished the Seattle Totems 10-1 in Vancouver.

Howie Hughes had three goals and Billy McNeill five assists to lead Vancouver. Other Canucks goal-getters were Ron Hutchinson, Bruce Kabel, Dave Duke, Larry Cahan, Ray Brunel, Bruce Carmichael and Wayne Muloin.

Earl Heiskala scored for Seattle.



Glenn Hall : top NHL goalie
  • Brandon Wheat Kings of the Saskatchewan Junior A League have a Swedish player by the name of Juha Widing. Widing is said to be the most exciting player in the league and is the property of the New York Rangers.
  • Bert Olmstead, Rangers scout, says that Sweden is a hockey hotbed and NHL teams should be looking to Europe for more players like Widing.
  • Rangers D Jim Neilson has a severe bone bruise of his left ankle and is doubtful for tonight’s game against Boston.
  • Chicago’s Bobby Hull is the NHL’s leading scorer with 11 goals and six assists for 17 points. Bobby Rousseau of Montreal is second.
  • Top NHL goalie so far is Glenn Hall of the Black Hawks with a 1.50 goals-against average.
  • Gord Labossiere and Leon Rochefort of the Quebec Aces are tied for the AHL scoring lead with 13 points.
  • Paul Andrea is still the CPHL’s leading scorer with seven goals and six assists for 13 points.
  • Art Jones of Portland Buckaroos leads the WHL with 14 points, one ahead of defenseman Fred Hucul of Victoria.
  • Danny O’Shea is the new leading scorer in the OHA Junior A Series. The Oshawa centre leads team-mate Bobby Orr and Doug Shelton of St. Catharines by two points with nine goals and 14 assists.
  • Toronto D Bobby Baun is recovering from the scary eye injury he suffered on the weekend. He may play tonight against Montreal.