Toronto Maple Leafs edged the first-place Chicago Black Hawks 3-2 last night thanks mainly to the heroics of an unheralded rookie goalie. But it wasn’t the goalie most expected it would be who did the job. Young Al Smith, up from the Toronto Marlboros Junior A team was the unexpected hero.
The Toronto-Chicago contest was one of three National Hockey League games last night. In New York goalie Cesare Maniago recorded his first NHL shutout as the Rangers blanked Detroit 5-0. In the other match, a J.C. Tremblay power-play goal gave Montreal a narrow 3-2 win over the Boston Bruins.
Leafs’ Starter Injured
In Chicago, Gary Smith started in goal for Toronto against the Hawks. Only 2:15 into the first period, Smith did the splits in making a save on a tough Pierre Pilote shot. Smith suffered a pulled groin on the play and was unable to continue. So, off the bench came an ice-cold Al Smith to take over for Gary.
The younger Smith, no relation to Gary, was afforded a brief warmup and was left to face hockey’s most offensively potent lineup. To make matters worse, Bobby Hull needed just three goals to reach the magic 50 mark. Like a shark smelling blood in the water, Hull must have had ideas that he might be able to get all the way to the promised land in this game with a fuzzy-cheeked youngster guarding the Leafs goal.
It didn’t quite go the way Hull planned – not by a long shot. The Leafs checked as they had never done in any game this season. They gave Hull very little room to manoeuvre, and almost every time he had a scoring chance, someone would dive or fall in front of the drive. And when Hull did get a clear shot – he had five of them – Smith stood tall and made the saves. It was certainly a night this youngster will never forget.
Imlach’s Strategy Bests Reay
The coaches got into the act as well. Chicago mentor Billy Reay decided to use Hull on two of his three lines to maximize the chances he might get against the rookie puckstopper. Punch Imlach of the Leafs countered by going with four lines. All lines were told to employ the same tactic – check the daylights out of the Hawks, which they did to perfection. Give this round to Imlach.
Toronto opened the scoring at 12:22 of the first. Orland Kurtenbach netted his eighth of the season after a nice setup from Tim Horton.
The middle stanza was scoreless as both Smith and Glenn Hall of the Hawks performed flawlessly between the pipes. The scoring action picked up in the final frame.
Chicago tied it just before the 12-minute mark on Stan Mikita’s 25th of the year. Less than a minute later Tim Horton connected for an unassisted goal to put Leafs back in front. Horton’s goal had a bit of an odour to it. He fired a long slap shot from centre ice and it somehow eluded Hall’s grasp.
A minute and 27 seconds after that Eddie Shack notched number 21 for him to put the visitors up 3-1.
Phil Esposito picked up his 20th with about three and a half minutes remaining. The big Sault Ste Marie native cashed in a Bobby Hull rebound after Smith had made a big save on the Golden Jet’s bullet drive.
That was as close as the Hawks could get. Rookie Ken Hodge took a penalty at 17:47 and that pretty well nullified the Chicago offence the rest of the way.
Maniago’s First Shutout
Cesare Maniago became the first New York Ranger goalie to pitch a shutout for the team since 1964 as the Blueshirts blanked the Detroit Red Wings 5-0 last night in New York. Maniago wasn’t overly busy, as he was called upon to make only 23 saves.
Reg Fleming’s early goal at 1:36 of the opening frame gave fans an idea of what this one was going to be like. Bob Nevin then scored a pair of goals only 42 seconds apart in the second period and the issue was no longer in doubt.
Rod Seiling and Bill Hicke added insurance goals to make the final score 5-0.
The last time a Ranger goalie recorded a whitewash was on December 25, 1964. On that night, Jacques Plant turned the trick for the Rangers. The 27-year-old Maniago played well despite facing only 23 Detroit drives. He did his best work on breakaways by Alex Delvecchio, Floyd Smith and newly-acquired Leo Boivin.
Rangers had 27 shots at Detroit goalie Roger Crozier, who didn’t have one of his better games.
Late Goal Gives Habs Comeback Win
Defenseman J.C. Tremblay scored on a power play with less than two minutes remaining in the game to give the Montreal Canadiens a come-from-behind 3-2 win over the pesky Boston Bruins. The Montreal win, coupled with Chicago’s home-ice loss to Toronto, gives the Canadiens a share of first place with the Hawks.
The score was hardly indicative of the play in this one. Canadiens peppered Boston rookie netminder Bernie Parent with 44 shots and the youngster very nearly helped the Bruins to a huge upset win.
Bruins, on the other hand, had only 21 shots at Habs goalie Charley Hodge. He was just good enough to record the win.
Boston looked like they were going to run away with the game early. John McKenzie and Ron Stewart scored goals just a minute and 21 seconds apart to put the Bruins up 2-0 just shy of the 14-minute mark. Ralph Backstrom got one back for Canadiens late in the period.
The teams skated through a scoreless second period. Actually, the Canadiens did all the skating, while the Bruins stood around and watched Parent single-handedly hold the Montrealers at bay. Montreal outshot Boston 15-5 in the period and looked for a while like they were beginning to be frustrated by their lack of offensive success.
Montreal finally drew even when Claude Larose fired his 10th at 3:34 of the third. That set the stage for Tremblay’s late power play goal. The smooth-skating defenseman scored on a long shot from the blue line that got past a screened Parent.
Ron Murphy Calls It Quits
Fourteen-year NHL veteran Ron Murphy has notified the Boston Bruins that he is retiring from the sport, effective immediately. Murphy was picked up from the Detroit Red Wings last week in a trade that saw Bruin veterans Dean Prentice and Leo Boivin move to the Red Wings.
Murphy, 33, told Bruins coach Milt Schmidt yesterday about noon that he would not be playing for the team in last night’s game in Montreal. Schmidt said that Murphy gave him no reason for the sudden decision:
“He called me at noon and told me he had just decided to retire. It has nothing to do with his trade to our club, he assured me.”
Schmidt said he invited Murphy to talk things over, but the veteran of 758 regular season NHL games said that he had already booked a flight out of Montreal to his home in Hamilton.
Murphy said that the trade to Boston was the tipping point for his decision. He stressed that it had nothing to do with the Boston club, but that his personal situation made it necessary to quit.
“My retirement has nothing to do with the Bruins, their players or the management. They’re a great bunch of guys with good kids coming up.
“My wife Carol has been ill, as have the children and this trade meant the third time in a year or so we had to move and the children had to change schools.
“I know I’m under automatic suspension and Boston might say to heck with me, but I might come back to play if I can straighten out these personal matters. I don’t think I’ll be too old or that the layoff will hurt that much.”
Murphy went on to say that he wanted to spend more time in his home town managing his stock investment program.
Murphy had played two games for the Bruins, picking up one assist. Schmidt said that the trade with Detroit will not be altered, it will stand as is.
Boston plans to recall forward Wayne Maxner from San Francisco of the Western Hockey League. Maxner played 54 games for the Bruins last season
Vancouver to Protest Expansion Snub
A committee is forming in Vancouver to make a last-ditch, all-out push for a National Hockey League expansion franchise. Vancouver was left out in the cold when the NHL announced its six new cities on February 9. But the fact the St. Louis has had no owner come forward has given the folks in Vancouver a ray of hope.
A protest meeting will be held in the city on Thursday evening. The goal is to channel public opinion into a positive movement that will convince the NHL governors that the city is 100% behind NHL hockey. One of the criticisms of the Vancouver bid was that the governors weren’t convinced that the west coast city was fully behind the proposed team.
The committee will also ask Canadian Prime Minister Lester Pearson to intervene. They are hoping that Mr. Pearson will make a personal plea to leaguer governors, and have urged citizens to send letters of support.
Cyrus McLean, who made the Vancouver presentation to the NHL governors has said that his group will stand aside if there is another syndicate ready to step in and make a bid that might be more palatable to the NHL. It’s thought that publisher Max Bell and oil businessman Frank McMahon were preferable owners for the governors.
Frank Selke, former general manager of the Montreal Canadiens was in Vancouver and added fuel to the fire. He told the people of Vancouver that they “need to fight like hell” if they really wanted a franchise.
If you are going to give up after one rebuff, the application wasn’t worthwhile in the first place.
Retired police detective, involved in hockey at all levels for over 50 years. Member of Society for International Hockey Research and presently a video analyst for the leader in advanced hockey analytics (we work exclusively for 2 NHL clubs, and provide advice on an ad hoc basis to many other clients). Currently the Assistant General Manager for the Pelham Pirates of the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League. Previously owned the Faceoff computer hockey simulation and also provided all player ratings for the EA Sports series of NHL computer games from the late 90’s into the mid 2000’s.