September 29, 1964: The Big M Has a BIG Game

In NHL exhibition action last night in Victoria, BC Toronto Maple Leafs forward Frank Mahovlich treated 5,542 fans  to a display of his enormous skills as he scored 4 goals in leading the parent Maple Leafs to an 8-1 thrashing of their west coast farm club. Mahovlich, who has been a left-wing for most of his NHL career, has made the switch to centre this season, and the change certainly seems to agree with the tall lanky one they call “The Big M”.  However, the move may not be permanent, as he spent a good deal of time playing the left side with Andy Bathgate in the centre spot during this game.

Bob Pulford, Gerry Ehman, Davey Keon and Jim Pappin had the other Toronto goals.  Leaf regular Ron Stewart, who along with Billy Harris was loaned to Victoria to bolster their lineup, scored the only goal for the home side.   Picked as the outstanding Victoria player in the game, Stewart received a lovely cardigan sweater.

Pilous cries “Help!”

Victoria coach Rudy Pilous and General Manager Buck Houle used the drubbing to appeal to Toronto management for more help for their fledgling team.  The Maple Leafs moved their WHL franchise to Victoria over the summer after a disastrous season in Denver in 1963-64.  Pilous said, “If we don’t get a good defenseman and an adequate centre, it could be a long, cold winter.”

The score of the game actually flattered Victoria.  Goalie Al Millar faced a shot a minute as the Leafs directed 60 drives his way.  He actually played very well in limiting the score to single digits.  Johnny Bower shut out the WHL’ers for the first half of the game before giving way to Terry Sawchuk.

Al Millar
Al Millar, shown here two years ago with the Seattle Totems, faced 60 shots last night.

Hodge having troubles

In another exhibition game between an NHL parent club and an affiliate, the Montreal Canadiens whipped the Quebec Aces 7-2.  While the Canadiens’ shooters were more than happy to fill the Quebec net, the result caused concern for Habs’ management.  Number one netminder Charlie Hodge was loaned to Quebec to give him some more work facing NHL shooters but poor Charlie was bombed by his mates for the second night in a row, this time giving up seven.  Ralph Backstrom, Dave Balon, red-hot rookie Yvan Cournoyer, Jean Beliveau, Jimmy Roberts, John Ferguson and Bobby Rousseau all shared in the Montreal scoring parade.  Noel Picard and Cleland Mortson had the Aces goals.

Charlie Hodge, having a rough pre-season.
Charlie Hodge, having a rough pre-season.

Bruins sink Seals

In last night’s only other exhibition game featuring an NHL club, the Boston Bruins made short work of the San Francisco Seals to the tune of 5-2.  The Beantowners got goals from five different players in this one – Orland Kurtenbach, Reggie Fleming, Murray Oliver, Tom Johnson and Murray Balfour.  Former Bruins Charlie Burns and Wayne Connelly managed the San Francisco goals.

Crozier responds to criticism

At 5-foot eight and only 155 pounds, 22 year old Roger Crozier is hearing the naysayers loud and clear as he gets ready to man the Detroit Red Wings goal this season.  People such as Maple Leaf assistant GM King Clancy and Ranger goalie Jacques Plante have predicted that Crozier wont’ cut it as an NHL regular at such a tender age.  Others have cited his slight frame as a distinct disadvantage in the rough and tumble world of the NHL.

Roger, on the other hand, lets all this negativity roll off like water off a duck’s back.  He continues to reward Wings GM Sid Abel’s faith in him night after night in the pre-season.  So far, in fifteen periods of work, Crozier has allowed a paltry nine goals, good for a 1.80 GAPG – pretty darn fair at any level of competition.

Roger even has an answer for those questioning his lack of experience due to his tender years.  “I think they’ve been too reluctant to go with a young goalie.  I know that I’ll get more experience here in a half a season than in two years in the minors.  And fellows like Terry, Plante, Hall and Gump Worsley were all under 24 when they made it.”

The last NHL puckstopper to to win the Calder Trophy was Glenn Hall, then of the Red Wings, in 1955.  Could this be the year another netminder makes the grade?

Glenn Hall, the last rookie goaltender to win the Calder Trophy, for rookie of the year.