Ralph Backstrom’s goal with seven and a half minutes left in the third period gave the Montreal Canadiens a 2-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings yesterday afternoon in Detroit. The Montreal victory ties the best-of-seven Stanley Cup Final at two games apiece.
The loss for the Red Wings may be their costliest of the entire season. Sensational goalkeeper Roger Crozier was injured early in the first period. While no official word has been given, it’s possible that the acrobatic little goalie will miss the rest of the series.
Crozier sprained his left knee and twisted his left ankle in a goal-mouth collision with Canadiens forward Bobby Rousseau. He was replaced by veteran netminder Hank Bassen, who played well in relief. But if Bassen is forced to play the rest of Detroit’s games, they will be hard-pressed to win two more games against the defending Cup champs.
Crozier was injured just shy of the six-minute mark of the first period when Rousseau fell while breaking in on the Detroit goal. His skate hooked Crozier’s left leg and twisted it unnaturally. The diminutive goalkeeper was unable to continue and had to be helped off the ice. The play was completely accidental and no penalty was called.
Detroit coach Sid Abel was hoping that Crozier would be able to return for Tuesday’s game in Montreal, but he didn’t sound optimistic:
“It looks bad and we won’t know the extent of Roger’s injury until after x-rays on Monday.”
The teams battled through a scoreless first period that was dominated by Montreal. Bassen was barely able to get himself warmed up before the Habs started firing shots in his direction. That quick introduction to the action likely got the red-headed puckstopper into the game more effectively than any amount of warmup drills.
Ullman Gave Wings Lead
Norm Ullman gave the Wings a 1-0 lead at 11:34 of the middle frame with his fourth goal of the playoffs. The hard-working Detroit centre took advantage of a scrambled play in front of Montreal goalie Gump Worsley that was exacerbated by the Habs’ blueliners backing in on their net. Ullman whacked at a loose puck that went past Worsley off J.C. Tremblay’s stick.
With only seven seconds left in the period, Montreal winger Dick Duff set up Tremblay for a point shot. Tremblay’s drive was tipped by Jean Beliveau past a helpless Bassen and the second ended tied at 1-1. It was a crushing goal that completely deflated the Red Wings.
In truth, the Red Wings were lucky to even be close in this game. Montreal had outshot the Wings 25-14 over the first two periods. Bassen’s fine relief work and some erroneous shooting on the part of the Habs kept the score even.
The final frame was a tense, evenly-played affair. Neither club was able to gain an edge until 13:37. That’s when Canadiens centre Ralph Backstrom went from goat to hero by scoring the winning goal.
Backstrom: Goat to Hero
Backstrom had been benched by Montreal coach Toe Blake just past the half-way mark of the second period. Blake had a brainstorm in the 14th minute of the third and sent Backstrom out to take a faceoff in the Montreal zone against the Wings’ Murray Hall. Backstrom won the draw to Duff who relayed a quick pass to Jim Roberts.
Roberts and Backstrom broke in alone on Bassen. Roberts made a pinpoint feed to Backstrom who beat the Detroit netminder with a deft backhand play.
Blake said that throwing Backstrom into that game at that juncture was just something he did on the spur of the moment:
“Backstrom was getting trouble earlier in the game and I just decided to sit him out for a while. By the time I threw him back in, Bobby Rousseau had been out there for a while and was getting tired so I threw in some fresh blood.”
Blake also praised the new forward line he put together in game three featuring Henri Richard between Leon Rochefort and Dave Balon:
“Henri Richard is back skating well now. And Balon has added some zip to the left side.”
But Blake was also worried about the number of missed shots by his club, especially in the first two periods:
“We’re still not scoring as many goals as we should. I thought we had more good chances today than any of the previous games.”
After the game Crozier insisted that he is by no means finished, although at the moment he was hurt, he thought the worst had happened:
“At first I thought my leg was broken. I was stretching for the corner of the goal when Rousseau fell going through the crease, jamming my leg against the post. There was a searing pain and the leg went limp. It started to quiver. I couldn’t control it and couldn’t regain my feet.
“After they helped me off the ice and out of my pads, I got into the whirlpool and it helped a lot. But it’s very painful.
The doctors tell me I have strained something in the knee as well as the ankle. I’ll know later how much chance I have of coming back.”
Amerks Take Calder Cup Opener
Rochester Americans rode the solid goaltending of Bobby Perreault to a 4-0 win over the Cleveland Barons in the first game of the Calder Cup final series at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto. The Americans lead the best-of-seven series 1-0.
The Rochester win also snapped Cleveland’s playoff winning streak at 15 games.
Rochester scorers were Brian Conacher, Jim Pappin, Mike Walton and Gerry Ehman. Perreault made 36 saves to register the shutout.
Victoria Leads WHL Final
The Victoria Maple Leafs took a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven Western Hockey League final with a 6-5 win over the Portland Buckaroos last night in Victoria.
Claude Labrosse took a pass from Victoria goalie Long John Henderson to score the winning goal at 14:45 of the second overtime session. Fred Hucul scored twice for the Maple Leafs. Singles came off the sticks of Mike Labadie, Andy Hebenton and Milan Marcetta.
Goal-getters for Portland were Art Jones, Gerry Goyer, Cliff Schmautz, Arlo Goodwin and Fred Hilts.
Generals Oust Shawinigan
The Oshawa Generals scored three times in the final 20 minutes to defeat the Shawinigan Bruins 4-2. The win gives the OHA Junior A champs the Memorial Cup Eastern Finals over the Bruins three games to one.
Bobby Orr, Danny O’Shea, Bill Heindl and Chris Hayes connected for Oshawa. Normand Pepin notched both goals for Shawinigan.
The game was a wide-open affair and for the first time in many games, the Generals were outplayed by the opposition. The shots on goal were 48-43 for the Bruins, but the great work in goal by Ian Young saved the day for Oshawa.
Lynn Patrick to Manage St. Louis?
Red Burnett of the Toronto Star reports that former Boston Bruins general manager Lynn Patrick will be named to a similar post with the new NHL expansion team in St. Louis. The Blues are slated to being play in the NHL’s new division in the 1967-68 season.
Burnett says that someone telephoned Patrick’s home and was informed by Mrs. Patrick that her husband had traveled to St. Louis and then was attending the NHL meetings in Montreal on Tuesday. The league has invited the six expansion teams to a league meeting to be held there prior to the fifth game of the Stanley Cup final series.
NHL president Clarence Campbell says that the league has not net settled on the formula by which the new teams will be stocked with players. About all that is known for sure is that an expansion draft will be held in June of 1967 after the conclusion of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Campbell did say that the league governors have formulated a rule governing the protection of some junior players. The rule states that 20-year-old players who had been signed to professional contracts under emergency injury conditions would not have to be protected in this June’s draft in Montreal.
What this means is that a player such as Mike Corrigan, who played nine playoff games for Tulsa of the CPHL under emergency recall from the Junior A Marlboros, will not have to be protected by the Maple Leafs this summer.
Andre Lacroix Wins Red Tilson Trophy
Peterborough Petes high-scoring centre Andre Lacroix has been named this season’s winner of the Red Tilson Trophy. Lacroix won the trophy, which is awarded to the OHA Junior A League’s most valuable and most gentlemanly player, for second straight season.
Lacroix led the OHA Junior A series in scoring this season with 40 goals and 80 assists for 120 points.
The only other two-time winner of the award is George Armstrong, captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Bobby Orr, star defenseman of the Oshawa Generals, finished a close second in the voting to Lacroix. Other players who received votes include Jim McKenny of Toronto Marlboros, Jacques Lemaire and Ted Ouimet, Montreal Junior Canadiens, Danny Grant and Mickey Redmond of Peterborough, Ken Laidlaw and Doug Shelton of the St. Catharines Black Hawks, Bart Crashley of Hamilton Red Wings and Al Smith of Marlboros.
Among the previous winners of the award are Tod Sloan, St. Mike’s (1946), George Armstrong, Stratford (1948), Gil Mayer, Barrie (1949), Glenn Hall, Windsor (1952), Brian Cullen, St. Catharines (1955), Frank Mahovlich, St. Mike’s (1957), Murray Oliver, Hamilton (1958), Stan Mikita St. Catharines (1959), Rod Gilbert, Guelph (1961), Pit Martin, Hamilton (1962), Yvan Cournoyer, Montreal (1964).
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.