It was a busy weekend for the six NHL teams as they continue to fine-tune their lineups in anticipation of the upcoming 1964-65 NHL season. As is the norm at this time of year, there were a few surprises in this weekend’s action.
Former Leaf gains revenge
Saturday evening in Calgary, before 7,140 enthusiastic westerners, the Toronto Maple Leafs dropped a 4-3 decision to the New York Rangers. Dick Duff, one of the most popular players in Toronto history before he was traded to the Rangers in February, was the best player on the ice in leading his new club to the win. Duff scored two goals, the second a short-handed marker, for the Rangers. The New Yorkers had opened up a 4-0 lead before the Leafs mounted a too-little-too-late comeback bid to make the final 4-3. Donnie Marshall and Jim Nielson scored the other Blueshirt goals. Don McKenney and Andy Bathgate, who went to Toronto in the trade that sent Duff to New York, along with Bob Pulford netted the Toronto goals. Gilles Villemure went all the way in goal for the Rangers, while Terry Sawchuk and Johnny Bower split the game for the Leafs. The game was a fairly antagonistic affair, highlighted by a spirited bout between Frank Mahovlich and Ranger rookie Bob Plager. Plager had provoked the Big M into the fight, but took the worst of it from the much bigger Toronto forward.
Wharram inspires Hawks
Early last week, Kenny Wharram of the Chicago Black Hawks, last year’s Lady Byng Trophy winner and all-star right winger, suffered a fractured skull in a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs when he was struck by a puck. The blow crushed Wharram’s nasal cavity and was described in one report as “gruesome”. However, hockey players are a tough lot, and Wharram showed up at the Hawks’ training camp in St. Catharines, a little worse for wear, but nonetheless eager to rejoin his team mates. While he won’t be able to suit up for a while, his mere presence certainly was cause for inspiration among the players.
Seemingly driven by Wharram’s surprise appearance, the Black Hawks went out and improved their exhibition record to 5-2 with a pair of weekend wins. Saturday evening in St. Catharines, before a sellout crowd of over 4,000, Bobby Hull fired a pair of goals to lead Chicago to a 4-1 win over Detroit. Eric Nesterenko and Chico Maki completed the Hawks scoring, while Gordie Howe tipped in a point shot for the Red Wings’ only tally.
The following night the Hawks took it to the Wings once again, this time a 3-2 win at the Detroit Olympia. Nesterenko, Hull and Johnny McKenzie, Wharram’s stand-in on the Scooter line, were the Chicago marksmen. Bruce MacGregor and Alex Delvecchio replied for the Wings. It was a very productive weekend for the Hawks, despite being outshot 60-39 over the two games by Detroit.
Habs take two from AHL’ers
The Montreal Canadiens took two games from American Hockey League clubs on the weekend, with a 9-2 win over Cleveland on Saturday before edging Quebec 5-4 on Sunday.
On Saturday, rookie Yvan Cournoyer scored a pair of goals to show the way against the Barons, with singles coming from Bobby Rousseau, Jean Gauthier, Dave Balon, Jimmy Roberts, Ralph Backstrom, Gilles Tremblay and Leon Rochefort. Martin and Wright answered for Cleveland.
Sunday it was a closer game versus the Aces, now coached by former Habs legend Bernie (Boom Boom) Geoffrion. Cournoyer had another goal in that one, along with Rousseau, Balon, John Ferguson and Henri Richard. Bill Sutherland, Keke Mortson, Gary Peters and Leon Rochefort, assigned to the Aces before the game, replied for the Aces. Gump Worsley, in goal for the Aces, received a ten-minute misconduct for arguing too vociferously with referee Bob Sloan over Cournoyer’s goal.
Pat Curran of the Montreal Gazette, commented that although Young Cournoyer is proving to be a proficient scorer so far, his defensive work leaves much to be desired. Coach Toe Blake was not happy with the Habs having almost blown a three-goal lead to the Aces, but called the game “The first real workout we’ve had in training.”
Shocker in Saskatoon
The final game of the weekend produced the biggest upset as the Los Angeles Blades of the Western Hockey League surprised the New York Rangers by a 5-3 count in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Willie O’Ree was the star for the Blades, as he scored two goals. Others to light the lamp for the WHL’ers were Marc Boileau, Brian Smith and Gord Haworth. Smith, in particular, was impressive for LA. Ranger goals came off the sticks of Earl Ingarfield, Jean Ratelle and Don Marshall.
Hockey’s ultimate bad guy, Howie Young, picked the wrong guy to tangle with when the LA defenseman went toe-to-toe with the Rangers’ Jim Nielson. Young received a broken nose for his trouble, while Nielson was assessed two major penalties.
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.