The Memorial Cup best-of-seven final series turned ugly last night. The hometown Edmonton Oil Kings won 5-1 to make the series two games to one for Niagara Falls Flyers in a game that was stopped by officials and police after mayhem broke out with three and a half minutes to play in the third period.
Rough right from the start
The contest began on a rough note and things escalated throughout the night. Finally, at the 16:30 mark of the final frame a free-for-all started that former Canadian Amateur Hockey Association president Art Potter termed “butchery”.
Potter, who is supervising this series for the CAHA, said that he will be recommending that the series be called off. The game was halted by referee Jim McCauley of Montreal, on instructions from Potter.
Both teams started the game with lineup changes. The Flyers replaced Bernie Parent in goal with Doug Favell, who shared the netminding duties all season. They also dressed Mike Sherman to replace rookie Jean Pronovost, younger brother of Detroit Red Wing defenceman Marcel Pronovost.
Edmonton sat defenceman Harold (Hap) Myers, with forwards Glen Tomalty and Ron Anderson being healthy enough to play.
Oil Kings lead after first
Edmonton led 3-1 after a viciously rough first period. Fran Huck, Ross Perkins and Jim Cardiff were the goal-getters. Derek Sanderson, who seemed to be in the middle of every fracas, found the range for Niagara Falls.
Right from the opening faceoff, there were minor skirmishes. The first major incident was a set-to between Derek Sanderson and Edmonton’s Brian Bennett which resulted in both being tagged with five-minute majors. Sanderson also received a minor and a misconduct, while Bennett earned a misconduct as well. Favell became involved, rushing to the aid of his team-mate and he earned a five-minute major for his trouble. As the period came to a close, the first near-riot broke out at the Niagara Falls bench and included both players and fans.
Goldsworthy felled by Falkenberg spear
The incident was triggered when Edmonton captain Bob Falkenberg speared the Flyers’ Bill Goldsworthy. Goldsworthy was left writhing in pain on the ice and the Flyers went after Falkenberg. That’s when the Edmonton fans became involved and it took a huge effort by the Edmonton constabulary to restore order.
Goldsworthy immediately left the game, and later returned but only briefly. Owner-manager Hap Emms of the Flyers says that Goldsworthy is doubtful for game four. Falkenberg received a five-minute major for spearing but was not thrown out of the match. That would later prove to be an imprudent decision by referee McCauley.
Favell was removed at the end of the first period after giving up the three goals. Parent played the final two periods and gave up a pair of markers to the Oil Kings.
Although the teams stuck mainly to hockey in the second period, there was a palpable sense of impending doom as tempers continued to rise. Both teams engaged in rough play, but the reckless use of the sticks by both sides gave rise to the sense of a powder keg on the brink of explosion.
The inevitable explosion came in the third. Things started off early in the period with Niagara’s 15-year-old defenceman Rick Ley squaring off with Ron Anderson in a stick-swinging duel that was shocking in its violence. Both were banished from the game by McCauley, but by that time the fuse had been lit and it was only a matter of time before things got out of hand. And get out of hand they did.
Hamilton-Paiement battle the tipping point
The brawl that resulted in the suspension of play began with a fight between Edmonton’s Allan Hamilton and Niagara’s Rosaire Paiement. The pair fell together and Hamilton sustained an ugly gash across the bridge of his nose. That touched off at least five other fights all over the ice. The most sickening incident occurred when Sanderson decided to exact some instant justice from Falkenberg and pummelled him into unconsciousness. Sanderson continued to flail away at the Edmonton captain, even though he was in obvious difficulty. Falkenberg was eventually removed from the ice on a stretcher, and hadn’t moved when last seen being carried off.
Sanderson received a major and a match penalty and quite likely will be suspended. Other penalized Flyers were Paiement and Andre Lajeunesse with majors and Dave Woodley with a 10-minute misconduct.
Garnet (Ace) Bailey and Hamilton were assessed majors for Edmonton.
With both benches emptied and fans once again threatening to turn the scene into something police would be powerless to control, Potter instructed McCauley to call off the game immediately. Both teams were sent to their respective dressing rooms while police kept fans from storming the ice.
Potter said after the game he was sickened by the entire display. He will report to the CAHA on the events and will recommend suspension and ultimate cancellation of the final series. The Edmonton arena has been completely shut down until a determination on the outcome of a CAHA investigation into the incident can be made.