Thursday, April 21, 2011

Bill Barilko, 60 Years Ago

Toronto Wins Cup Fourth Time In Five Years- Primeau Completes Grand Slam, Richard Individual Playoff Star

Bashing Bill Barilko's swashbuckling hockey play produces far more penalties than goals. It ran true to form Saturday night when the blond defenceman got the referee's thumb twice and scored once.

But that one goal was the big one of the 1951 Stanley Cup final. Tallied after two minutes and 53 seconds of sudden-death overtime, it sank Montreal Canadiens 3-2 and won for Toronto Maple Leafs their fourth cup title in five seasons and their sixth in 10.

IT FINISHED off a spine-tingling hockey gameand a record-breaking series for extra play-each of the five games being settled in overtime. Leafs captured four, Canadiens one.

In the decisive game, a spectacular goaltending performance by little Gerry McNeil forced the Leafs to come from behind twice to tie the score. Both times Toronto's ace trigger-man, Tod Sloan, a 31-goal man during the regular season, pulled the string. His second came just in the nick of time-32 seconds before the end of regulation time.

THE 14,577 fans-some 2,000 of them standees-roared "we want the cup" after the overtime goal. In a minute or two it was at centre ice and President Clarence Campbell of the National Hockey League presented the shining 58-year old trophy to Ted Kennedy, Leaf captain.

Kennedy spoke a few words then introduced coach Joe Primeau, first mentor to lead teams to junior Memorial, senior Allan and professional Stanley Cup championships.

THE CROWD shouted for veteran Turl Broda, the greatest playoff goalie of them all, who played two games against Canadiens and all but one period of the six-game semi-final against Boston Bruins because of an injury to Al Rollins. But Broda was too shy and fought off teammates who tried to drag him to the microphone.

While the Leafs were jubilant, the Canadiens, who put up a valiant battle, were downcast. They congratulated the winners on the ice and then moved quickly to their dressing-room. There the 146-pound McNeil, smallest goalie in the NHL, burst into tears.

THE COOL ROOKIE gave an unbelievable display of puck stopping. Once the fans roared their applause when he snatched a rifle-like slap shot from Barilko's stick through a crowd of players. He had 41 shots to handle, 14 of them in the first period and 19 in the dazzling third session. His mates, a poor second when it came to territorial play, drove 19 at Rollins.

AND ALMOST until the third period ended Saturday night, it seemed almost certain that the final with the Leafs would go at least six games.

Rocket Richard had scored a brilliant goal on a typical Richard picture play in the second. Sloan replied with another sparkling tally scored with defenceman Bud MacPherson draped around him.

THE LEAFS hit a hot attacking pace in the overtime and they didn't get untracked until after the two-minute mark when wingers Howie Meeker and Harry Watson roared right in, only to have McNeil foil them. The puck bounded to Barilko and this time his 15-foot slap shot-his specialty whizzed into the net so quickly that McNeil hadn't a chance.

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