Toronto Maple Leaf goalkeeper Johnny Bower was lucky he wasn’t arrested after last night’s game at Maple Leaf Gardens. Bower committed numerous acts of grand larceny upon the Montreal Canadiens, enabling his Leafs to grab a 4-2 win to even their semi-final series at 2-2.
Bower was nothing short of spectacular in stopping 24 of 26 Montreal drives, the vast majority of which were of the difficult variety.
Montreal captain Jean Beliveau was incredulous at Bower’s goaltending wizardry.
“It was robbery what Bower did. We should have led 6-0 after two periods.”
Montreal coach Toe Blake was unavailable for comment after the game. After the final bell had sounded, he closed the Habs’ dressing room for 25 minutes. When the doors finally opened, Blake was nowhere to be found.
General manager Sam Pollock did speak to the assembled members of the press.
“They were gone and we couldn’t put ’em away, so we lose a game we should have won 8-1. It’s a hell of a thing when you come in after two periods with your lead cut to one goal instead of being ahead by three or four.
“I’m a fatalist. I believe if things are going to happen against you, they’re going to happen. You can’t miss six or seven goals against a good opponent and then expect to win.”
Pollock the fatalist sounded a bit grim as he concluded his statement.
“If our fellows have got anything, they’ll show it now. We have no excuses. Play two games like that…” Pollock’s voice trailed off as he left, shaking his head.
Toronto captain George Armstrong singled out Bower as well.
“John may be the oldest goalkeeper in the league, but he’s got the fastest reflexes, the heart of a lion and he never stops trying.”
Toronto vice-president Harold Ballard perhaps summed it up best:
“In the first two periods Bower shamed his mates into winning.”
Montreal had jumped out to an early 2-0 first-period lead on goals by Bobby Rousseau and Henri Richard. If not for Bower, it may have been insurmountable.
Canadiens continued their dominance and were all over the Leafs in the second period but Bower’s magical performance kept them off the score sheet. Red Kelly finally got the Leafs on the board with less than five minutes left in the middle stanza.
Rookie Ron Ellis tied the game on a beautiful breakaway goal at 5:16 of the third period. Another rookie, Pete Stemkowski, made a perfect pass to put Ellis away at centre. The stocky right-winger got past Habs’ defencemen Jacques Laperriere and J. C. Tremblay and made no mistake as he faked Montreal goalie Gump Worsley and slipped the puck into the net.
Forty seconds later the Leafs took the lead when Dave Keon found George Armstrong in front of the Montreal net. The Leaf captain drove a backhander past Worsley and Montreal’s worst fears were realized. They had blown their two-goal lead.
Red Kelly added an insurance goal with his second of the game in to an empty Montreal net with 28 seconds left in regulation time.
Ellis described his clutch goal.
“I got Pete’s pass and got around Provost. Then going into the Montreal end, Tremblay and Laperriere were on either side of me. I lost control of the puck but I got it back again. I just slid it along the ice. It was the only thing I could do.”
Toronto coach Punch Imlach said that the best is yet to come from his suddenly hot squad.
“We haven’t had the big game yet. The last big team effort we had was in Detroit. And I know where I would like the next one.
“We didn’t start to play until there was about five minutes to go in the second period. I don’t know why they decided to go when they did. I did notice they were pretty cool at the end of the second period.”
Hull the hero – again
The underdog Chicago Black Hawks took advantage of home ice for the second straight game last night as they edged the Detroit Red Wings 2-1. The Chicago victory enabled them to even up their semi-final series with the Wings at two games apiece.
Bobby Hull, who seems to be single-handedly willing the Black Hawks back into the series, played hero again last night. He scored the winning goal at 9:12 of the third period, spoiling a sparkling performance by Detroit netminder Roger Crozier.
Hull’s winning goal came off a pass from linemate Chico Maki just inside the Chicago blue line. Hull took the pass and commenced one of his patented end-to-end rushes. The Golden Jet rocketed into the Detroit zone, where Crozier slid out 15 feet to cut down the angle. Hull unleashed a blast that seemed to catch the Detroit goalkeeper moving the wrong way.
After the game, Crozier said that he felt the shot must have deflected on its way to the net.
“It first went one way, then another. That’s how I looked so bad on it.”
Hull modestly described his game-changing effort.
“I saw I had a little space between the defencemen so I shot . I never saw the goal go into the net for Barkley rammed me pretty good. But the fans let me know.”
The goal set off an ovation that lasted for over three minutes.
Chico Maki opened the scoring for the Hawks with a power play goal at 8:05 of the initial frame. The Red Wings protested that the play was offside, but to no avail. Hawks defenceman trapped a Detroit clearing pass at the blue line on a close play. Pilote fed a pass to Maki who was in alone on Crozier.
Gordie Howe tied the score for the Wings a little over a minute later on a nice setup from Floyd Smith with Chicago’s Al MacNeil in the penalty box.
Red Wing coach Sid Abel was disappointed at what he considered a missed opportunity.
“We missed a golden chance to win. We had plenty of chances but just couldn’t connect. We’ll do what we always do in these situations. We’ll go back to our hideaway at Toledo, re-group the troops and charge again.”
Rochester eliminates Quebec
The Rochester Americans defeated the Quebec Aces 5-2 last night to win their American Hockey League semi-final series 4-1.
Five Amerks shared in the scoring for the winners with Jim Pappin, Stan Smrke, Gerry Ehman, Bronco Horvath and Dick Gamble each netting a goal. Bill Sutherland and Terry Gray connected for Quebec.
Quebec played without its two top defencemen, Doug Harvey and Jimmy Morrison. Harvey suffered a broken thumb in Wednesday’s game, while Morrison aggravated a groin injury.
The Aces also went with backup Gilles Banville in goal. Starter Ernie Wakely sat as coach Bernie Geoffrion played a hunch and went with Banville, who had beaten the Americans 7-1 in the only game in which he faced them this season.
Pats pickup patterns own sticks
The Regina Pats, champions of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, preparing for the western junior hockey semi-final picked up four players from the Weyburn Red Wings. Joining Regina will be centre Morris Mott, winger Bill Lesuk, defenceman Jim Cardiff and goalie Don Caley. Their series begins tonight in Regina against the Edmonton Oil Kings.
Cardiff is an interesting young man. He is a four-year veteran of the SJHL who designs his own hockey sticks. He describes his sticks as a modified type used by Bobby Hull of the Chicago Black Hawks. Hull’s sticks are made by an American company, whose products are distributed by a Weyburn firm.
Cardiff worked part-time this winter for that company and in his spare time he drafted plans for his own particular twig. The handle is a bit heavier than for a regular stick and the blade has a semi-square heel and a steam-treated tip.
The steam treatment installs a curve about four to five inches from the end of the blade.
Cardiff describes his cue as something like that used by Chicago’s Stan Mikita.
“The blade is similar to the stick used by Stan Mikita of the Chicago Black Hawks. However, I use a five lie and Stan uses a six-and-a-half. Stan’s stick has an even more pronounced hook at the end of the blade.”