Friday, January 31, 2014

Jonathan Bernier Likes Rubber

Maple Leafs goaltender Jonathan Bernier is not used to this. This, being facing an inordinate number of shots each and every game. In his 40 games this season, Bernier has faced over 30 shots an amazing 27 times, or 67.5% of the time. In his 62 games played with the Los Angeles Kings prior to this season he faced over 30 shots a mere 12 times or 19.4%. He's literally had THREE TIMES as many high shot games as he had before being traded. In addition to that, he has had 10 games this year of facing 40-plus shots while prior to this campaign he had ONE game in 62.

While with L.A., Bernier actually did quite well when he faced over 30 shots. Although his record was only 6-5-1 in those games, his Save Percentage was .932. This year with the Leafs, his record when facing over 30 shots is a splendid 16-8-3 and his Save Pct., once again is at .932. As a contrast, his 13 games facing 30 or under shots this season, Bernier's record is 3-7-2 (1 no decision) with a Save Pct. of .897.

Better still, in Bernier's 40+ shot games this year he is 7-1-2 and his Save Pct is at .945. The man loves to see a lot of rubber put in his direction.

The truth is, most goalies thrive when facing more shots as seen below. The surprising aspect for me is that Bernier has excelled under the barrage after having rarely if ever dealing with these numbers of shots on goal in the past.

As a point of comparison, here are the top goaltenders this season who have played 30 or more games and how they've fared under different shots against circumstances.

Difference in Save Pct. While Facing OVER 30 Shots vs. 30 and UNDER Shots

Bernier .932 / .897      Diff +.035
Price .936 / .901          Diff +.035
Miller .931 / .899        Diff +.032
Varlamov .935 / .905   Diff +.030
Fleury .934 / .908        Diff. +.026
Schneider .942 / .917  Diff +.025
Lundqvist . 931 / .906 Diff +.025
Rask .940 / .918          Diff +.022
Luongo .927 / .913      Diff +.014
Bishop .934 / .930       Diff +.004
Harding .920 / .939     Diff  -.025

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Olympic Hockey Card of the Day, Olympic Stadium 1936

These are actual cards from my collection that were issued for various Winter Olympic games either as souvenirs or as premiums in cigarette packages. The rear of these two cards are translated;

"The magnificent Olympic ice skating rink, the tribunes are filled every day until the last seat is the battleground exciting hockey games."

"Hockey at Garmisch winter sun, or shade Games at the Olympic Ice Stadium. A picturesque scene of the fighting around the hard rubber disc to play bare ice surface."

Built in 106 days for the 1936 Olympics, the Olympia-Kunsteisstadion opened on Dec. 16, 1934. With a seating capacity for 10,000 spectators, the arena was rebuilt for the 1940 Winter Olympics which were cancelled due to World War II. It officially re-opened in 1948 and in 1964 the stadium was enclosed with a roof.

In the early 1990's it was overhauled again and is used to this day as the home of SC Riessersee of the German send division hockey league. Past alumni of the team include current Maple Leafs assistant coach Dave Farrish, Murray Heatley (father of Dany Heatley) and ex-Czech goaltending standout Vladimir Druzilla.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Olympic Hockey Card of the Day, Team Great Britain 1936

These are actual cards from my collection that were issued for various Winter Olympic games either as souvenirs or as premiums in cigarette packages. The rear of this card is translated;

"Great Britain beat Canada and thus became Olympic champion in ice hockey tournament"

And here they are, pictured in the beautiful outdoor scenery of Garmisch-Partinkirchen, Germany, the Olympic gold medalist Great Britain hockey club. The Brits, with only one player (their leading scorer Gerry Davey) who was born in Canada did however have 9 of their 13 players raised in Canada and 11 of the 13 had previously played there. Nevertheless, on a late third period goal by Edgar 'Chirp' Brenchley the Brits beat Canada 2-1 in the preliminary round. As was the custom at outdoor tournaments in those days (due to the unpredictability of weather), this result was carried forward once the final four medal round participants were determined. Thusly, Canada would not have an opportunity for revenge over the Brits and chance at a gold medal.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Consistency Rating, Is Phil Kessel Really That Streaky?


Phil Kessel is a streaky scorer. That seems to be the consensus among hockey observers. He certainly does seem to collect points in bunches, but is really that inconsistent of a point producer? Does he go long stretches without getting points? I decided to have a look at how he compares to the rest of the top players in the league in this regard.

Firstly, what is it exactly that I'm looking for? I figured I would look for slumps in Kessel's production over the last three years and see if he has any more or less dry spells compared to others. How can we quantitatively define a slump though? Well, on most hockey broadcasts a player who has a point in at least three straight games is considered to be on a streak, therefore in my opinion a player who goes three games without a point would be considered to be in a slump. All it takes now is a little time to check through players game logs and search for three game point droughts.

I used the top point producers of the last three seasons combined and went looking. Below are the top 25 point producers (and a few additional players) since the start of the 2011/12 season through today and how many "Slumps" of three games without a point they had suffered through.

Number of Three Game Slumps
2011/12 - 2013/14

EStaal 10
Wheeler 9
Benn 9
Vanek 8
Kane 8
HSedin 8
DSedin 8
Eberle 8
Vrbata 8
Neal 7
Kessel 7
Lupul 7
Datsyuk 7
Getzlaf 7
Couture 7
Ovechkin 6
Backstrom 6
Hossa 6
Sharp 6
Zetterberg 6
Parise 6
Perry 5
Toews 5
Tavares 5  
St.Louis 5
Thornton 5
Giroux 4
Kopitar 3
Hall 3
Karlsson 3
Kunitz 2
Stamkos 1
Crosby 0    
Malkin 0  

If a player went any multiple of three games without a point I counted accordingly. For example Eric Staal went 7 games from Oct 28 thru Nov 11, 2011 without a point. This counts as two Slumps of three games. If a player went only 4 or 5 games it counted as one slump. There's Phil Kessel hovering around the middle of the pack with some expected names near the top of the slump list. Somewhat surprisingly, and a clear indication that age is catching up to them, the Sedin's counted 8 slumps each over this period, one more than Kessel. On the bottom of the list are the guys who rarely slump at all with perhaps Taylor Hall's name being the only real surprise. Amazingly Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin have never gone more than two games without a point over the last three seasons. In fact, Crosby has had only five such occasions over his entire career.

Of course, these players listed all played a varying number of games. Seven Slumps over a 125 game stretch for Lupul is certainly a lot worse than seven in 183 games for Kessel. To put this into a nice easy number we do this:

100 - [(# of Slumps / GP)  x 1000]

Let's call this number the Consistency Rating of a player. A rating of 100 is obviously the highest achievable for players with no slumps like Crosby and Malkin. This shows that they consistently produce points, even if only breaking a two game drought with a single second-assist. They flat out produce.

Consistency Rating
2011/12 - 2013/14

Crosby       100.00
Malkin       100.00
Stamkos       93.92
Kunitz          88.95
Kopitar         83.42
Hall              80.13
Karlsson       79.87
Giroux          77.40
Tavares         72.53
Thornton       72.22
Perry             71.75
St.Louis        71.59
Toews           68.55
Ovechkin      65.32
Hossa            64.50
Parise            64.29
Zetterberg     64.07
Kessel           61.75
Sharp            61.29
Getzlaf         60.00
Couture        59.06
HSedin         55.56
PKane           56.04
Eberle           54.80
Datsyuk        53.95
Neal              53.33
DSedin         53.22
Vanek           51.81
Wheeler       49.72
Vrbata          49.68
Benn            44.78
Lupul           44.44
Staal             43.50

Remember, an average NHLer who may score 40 points in 80 games would tend to have more three game segments without producing a point than the guys listed above. David Legwand has had 13 different "Slumps" over the last three years which in 178 games gives him a Consistency Rating of 26.97. Basically, as long as a player is not having more than one slump every ten games played he will be in the positive. If they have more than one every ten games, watch what happens to the rating. Matt Cooke has played every game over the last three seasons and produced a respectable 80 points in those 183 games. However, Cooke has had had 23 separate three game Slumps in that period leading to a Consistency Rating of minus 25.69. Let's check another guy that has played every game the last three seasons in Andrew Cogliano. In 183 games, Cogliano has 78 points but has counted 27 Slumps of three games over that time. This gives him an Inconsistency Rating of -47.54.

Eric Cole has played 180 games and scored 98 points over the last three seasons, he also has 19 Slumps over that period. His Consistency Rating of -5.56 is right around what should be expected from an average NHL point producer. Another player in this bracket would be Dustin Brown. With 99 points over 179 games he also has 19 slumps over the past three seasons for a rating of -5.29. Matt Read has 17 Slumps over 166 games while producing 94 points. His rating works out to -2.41.

Eric Cole, Dustin Brown and Matt Read...a nice representation of three of the most average point producers in the NHL. If we were to check all NHL players I would estimate the majority of them would rate in between the -20.00 and +20.00 range. Anything over 20.00 is considered fairly to extremely consistent point production. Therefore, I think it's safe to say that while Phil Kessel may very well be a streaky scorer, he never really gets into prolonged slumps and should be considered one of the most consistent producers in hockey.

Callahan    10 Slumps   36.31 Rating
Legwand    13 Slumps   26.97 Rating
Johansson   12 Slumps   26.82 Rating
Semin         12 Slumps    24.53 Rating
Doan           14 Slumps    14.63 Rating
Roy             15 Slumps    11.76 Rating
Read            17 Slumps   -2.41 Rating
Brown         19 Slumps   -5.29 Rating
Cole            19 Slumps    -5.56 Rating
Cooke         23 Slumps   -25.69 Rating
Cogliano     27 Slumps   -47.54 Rating

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Olympic Hockey Card of the Day, Canada vs Latvia 1936

These are actual cards from my collection that were issued for various Winter Olympic games either as souvenirs or as premiums in cigarette packages. The rear of this card is translated;

"So stormed Canada ... Latvia was the object found: 11:0 was the result of the game in the Olympic hockey tournament"

February 7, 1936 was the date that Canada beat Latvia 11-0 in their first game of the Olympic games  at Garmisch-Partinkirchen, Germany. The Latvian goaltender seen sprawling here is Roberts Lapainis who allowed 18 goals in his two losses at the Olympics. The Canadian skaters are difficult to identify but the player in the middle attempting to dig the puck from the goalie definitely has a "1" of a two-digit number just creeping over his left shoulder. An educated guess names him as Ralph St.Germain a left shooting Right-Winger who would score 10 points in 4 games at the Olympics. 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Olympic Hockey Card of the Day, Finland vs Germany 1952

These are actual cards from my collection that were issued for various Winter Olympic games either as souvenirs or as premiums in cigarette packages. The rear of this card is translated;

"Germany's young ice hockey team did not have much to order in Oslo. They were not trained well and was only the 8th Place, respectively. The picture shows a scene in front of the Finnish Gate, Germany in the attack. Finland won 5-1."

This game took place ohm February 22, 1952 at Oslo, Norway. The Finnish goalkeeper pictured was named Unto Wiitala and he won two and lost two during the 1952 Olympics while posting a GAA of 6.00. His other victory was a 5-2 win over host Norway. In addition to this Olympics, Wiitala represented Finland at five World Championship events.
 The Finnish player #13 in front of the net is Aarne Honkavaara a Centre who played domestically for Ilves Tampere. He collected 2 goals and 2 assists in the '52 Games. The #3 German battling for the puck is Ludwig 'Luddi' Kuhn who would star for Fussen in the German Bundesliga for 20 seasons.

Canada, represented by the Edmonton Mercury's won the gold medal with a record of 7-0-1 with the only blemish being a 3-3 tie with the silver medal winning United States.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Olympic Hockey Card of the Day, Germany vs Poland 1932

These are actual cards from my collection that were issued for various Winter Olympic games either as souvenirs or as premiums in cigarette packages. I love the stance on the goaltender in this photo, a fair bit unorthodox. The rear of this card is translated;
"Winter Olympics: From the Ice Hockey match between Germany and Poland: Before the gate of the German". I assume that is referring to "in front of the German net".

Germany played Poland twice in the double round-robin, four team tournament at Lake Placid in 1932. They won 2-1 then 4-1 to secure the Bronze medal. The German goaltender pictured is 6'4" Walter Leinweber who played every minute for the Germans in 1932 posting a GAA of 4.50

Canada, represented by the Winnipeg Hockey Club captured the gold medal. They would beat Poland by scores of 9-0 and 10-0 and beat Leinweber and the Germans by scores of 4-1 and 5-0.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Harold Ballard Predicts Leafs Cup

I found this little snippet in an old Hockey News, it's just too good not to share.

March 21, 1980
"Take it from Harold Ballard, the Maple Leafs will win the Stanley Cup next season.
The bombastic owner of the Leafs has predicted that his team will do it next season. "People would think I would have to be smoking marijuana to predict that we would win it this year, but we will definitely win the cup next year," commented Ballard.
Ballard cleared the air in regards to Punch Imlach, his general manager, and Darryl Sittler, his former team captain. He said he had much faith in Imlach and that he was an excellent manager and great student of the game. "I venture to say that when he gets through doing the job, we will be tough to beat."
Ballard said it would take some trade to get rid of Sittler, who has become the team's hottest scorer in recent weeks."

Over his previous 17 games to this point, Sittler had scored 15 goals and 19 assists as the Leafs went 9-7-1 to climb from 15th to 11th place in the overall standings. He would finish with 97 points in 73 games in 1979/80 and Toronto remained in 11th place in the NHL. They were swept in three games by Minnesota.

The following year, Ballard's predicted Cup winning year the Leafs squeaked into the final playoff spot by one point led by Sittler , Wilf Paiement and goaltender Jiri Chra. Once again, they were swept  in three first round games by the New York Islanders. So much for Ballard's prediction.

As for Sittler, he was shipped to the Flyers halfway through the next season for what amounted to Rich Costello, Peter Ihnacak and Ken Strong, showing that Ballard was capable of making ridiculous predictions and hockey decisions on a near daily basis.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Olympic Hockey Card of the Day, Team USA 1936

 These are actual cards from my collection that were issued for various Winter Olympic games either as souvenirs or as premiums in cigarette packages. This one shows the squad representing the United States. The rear of the card is shown below and the first paragraph is translated as;
"The team of USA was the third Olympic hockey tournament and won the bronze medal"

They did indeed win the Bronze medal as they finished the Olympic tournament with a 5-2-1 record. In the final medal round they would beat Czechoslovakia 2-0, lose to Canada 2-1 and tie the eventual Gold medal winners Great Britain 0-0.

The Americans were led by defenceman Jack Garrison who collected 4 goals and 4 assists over the 8 games and goaltender Tom Moon Sr. who would top the tournament with 5 shutouts while putting up a 0.45 GAA.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Olympic Hockey Card of the Day, Teiji Honma 1936

 These are actual cards from my collection that were issued for various Winter Olympic games either as souvenirs or as premiums in cigarette packages. This one pictures Japanese goaltender Teiji Honma at the 1936 Games in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.

Below is the rear of the card, the top which loosely translates from German as;
"Teiji Honma, the Japanese Ice Hockey goalie had an opportunity to show only twice in ice hockey tournament of the Winter Games his rough equipments". Likely a poor translation by google.

Honma played both games for Japan in the preliminary round of the Olympics losing 2-0 to Sweden and 3-0 to eventual Gold medalists Great Britain. He had played 10 games for the Japanese National team before the Olympics compiling a 2-7-1 record and 4.40 GAA.

Honma was one of the very first goaltenders to don a face mask during game play wearing this baseball catcher style mask six years after Clint Benedict wore a mask briefly in the NHL.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Team Canada 1964 Olympic Preparation

Seth Martin makes a save

Fifty years ago exactly, Canada's Olympic hockey team was commencing a pre-Olympic exhibition tour. The second game took place January 10, 1964 in Munich, West Germany. Father David Bauer's Canadian National Hockey team defeated the West German champions EV Fuessen 4-1. The exhibition match in Canada'a build up to the Olympic Games at Innsbruck was the second win in two games so far in Europe for Bauer's boys. Earlier they had romped Fuessen 9-5. 
On this day, Brian Conacher (son of Lionel Conacher) scored a pair and Terry Clancy (son of King Clancy) scored once. Caanda's fourth goal was tallied by Gary Dineen. CAHA President Art Potter reported that the Canadian team had been receiving good press and that German sports writers had dubbed the squad "Vater Bauer ind seine Blitz Buben" or "Father Bauer and his Whiz Kids."

The following game against Erc Mannheim would be far less of a contest as the Nats won by 13-0. More than 500 Canadian servicemen stationed in Baden Baden joined the crowd of 11,000 in the open-air stadium. Brian Conacher, Ray Cadieux and Al McLean each scored two while singles were scored by Ross Morrison, Roger Bourbonnais, Gary Dineen, George Swarbrick, Gary Begg, Terry Clancy and Dave Merrifield.

On January 14, Father Bauer named his final roster of 17 players from the 21 who were travelling with the team. The four who remained with the team but did not play in the Olympics were goalie Rick Broadbelt,  defenceman Jack Wilson and forwards Al McLean and David Merrifield. In Geneva that night, the team tied a squad of Canadian professionals playing in Europe by a score of 4-4.

On January 15 before 15,000 Muscovites at the Sports Palace, the Candians were outclassed by the Russian Olympic team by a score of 8-1. Father Bauer stated afterward, "When you are beaten 8-1 there's nothing much you can say. The Russians were better in all departments, except maybe in goal." Brian Conacher picks up the story in his autobiography, "Hockey In Canada, The Way It Is",
"Our journey to Moscow started at 6 am following the game in Switzerland. The journey to Moscow itself was as gruelling as any hockey game I'd ever played in. The flights were ominously delayed at various stops along the route, and we were put through several tiresome baggage checks, including our last stop at the hotel in Moscow at 3 am the following morning. Needless to say we weren't in much shape to play the next day, and the Russians bombed us 8-1."

Two days later the Canadians were scheduled to play the Russian Olympic team again, but instead the Soviets decided to face the young Canadians with their reserve team. Canada fared better this day, losing only by 2-1 on a goal from Terry O'Malley. Allan Starodub of the Soviet News Agency Tass wrote after the game;
"The physical strength and recklessness of the young Canadians is not enough to defeat opponents who are not afraid of tough playing. The Canadians need more skill in defence and variety in attack."
He added, "Except for goalie Seth Martin, the lack of players of high individual skill is glaringly obvious on the Canadian team, whereas almost all members of the Soviet First National team are masters."

Canada would next fall to the Czech Olympic team in Prague by a score of 6-0 before losing once again to a "B" squad losing 6-4 to the Czech reserves at Pardubice. In the first game before 14,000 spectators Czech news agency CTK described goalie Ken Broderick, Terry O'Malley, Roger Bourbonnais, Brian Conacher and George Swabrick as the best players on Canada. In the second game in Czechoslovakia, Swabrick scored two and O'Malley and Dineen had singles in the loss in front of 13,000.
Canada would gain some slight revenge by beating the same Czech "B" team 4-3 in Bratislava the following night. Conacher, Barry MacKenzie, Marshall Johnston and Gary Dineen scored for the Nats.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Team Canada vs. Soviets 1984 Pre-Olympic Tour, Part 2

After losing the first five matches to the Soviet "B" squad on a cross-Canada tour, the Canadian National team began to show signs of improvement in the second half.

Game Six
Jan. 4, 1984 at Ottawa
Canada 5, Soviets 2
In front of 9,355 fans, Canada snapped their drought against the visiting Soviets. "We've played six games in eight nights against these guys and there were some high feelings running,"coach King said.  Indeed there were as within two minutes at the end of the second period Canada was assessed three minor penalties, a five and a ten minute misconduct and the Soviets collected four minors, a five and a ten. Mario Gosselin was outstanding in Canada's net while Soviet's Dmitri Saprykin saw his first action of the series. Canada's goals were scored by Mike Ridley, Doug Lidster, Serge Trepanier, James Patrick and Carey Wilson while the Soviets answered with goals by Alexander Orlov and Anatoli Stepanishev.

Game Seven
Jan. 5, 1984 at Kitchener
Soviets 6, Canada 6
Doug Lidster earned the tie for Canada scoring with 1:50 remaining after Canada had led all the way before Soviet captain Victor Shalimov scored two late goals to take a 6-5 lead. Vaughan Karpan, Serge Trepanier, Flatley, Sherven and Darren Lowe scored for Canada beating Doroschenko back in the net. The other Soviet goals against Derren Eliot came from Loginov, Alexander Orlov, Igor Orlov and Andrei Matytsin. Canada added to their roster 17-year old Kirk Muller and 18-year old Russ Courtnall who had just returned from the World Junior Championships. "They're exceptional kids for their age," coach King stated,"If these two kids can stay with us, that might be enough."

Game Eight
Jan. 8, 1984 at Halifax
Soviets 6, Canada 5
"Canada has many good players. They lack international experience, but they should do well. I think they have all the prerequisites of winning one of the three hockey medals," said Alexander Yakushev through an interpreter. The legendary Russian star was an assistant coach of the touring Soviet team that had just handed Canada it's sixth loss in eight games. In front of 9,710 fans at the Metro Centre the Orlov brothers put on a show with Igor collecting two goals, two assists and Alexander scoring the winner on Mario Gosselin. Other Soviet markers were from Sergei Kharin, Evgeny Shepta and Ilia Biakin. Darren Lowe and Pat Flatley scored twice each while Gord Sherven had a single as Canada outshot the Soviets 25-20.

Game Nine
Jan. 9, 1984 at Montreal
Soviets 6, Canada 5
This was the fifth one-goal game of the seven losses for Team Canada. King stated afterwards,"Maybe the scoreboard doesn't show it but I think the players understand that they're improving." Bruce Keller, recently added from the University of Saskatchewan had two goals while Courtnall, Dave Gagner and Bruce Driver had the others. Soviet goals came from Pryakhin, Ilya  Byakin, Eugeny Shepta, Viktor Shalimov and Mikhail Varnakov with two.

Game Ten
Jan. 11, 1984 at Quebec City
Canada 9, Soviets 5
"It was nice for the kids to get a victory after coming so close on so many nights," coach King said after the game. Canada built a 5-0 lead on first period goals by Craig Redmond, Vaughan Karpan and Dave Gagner and second period goals by Mark Morrison and Mike Ridley. Soviets got the score to 6-4 late in the second before Canada pulled away. Soviet goals were from Eugeny Shepta, Pryakhin, Byakin, Skurdyuk and Varnakov. Canada's third period goals came from Dan Wood, Bruce Keller, Claude Gosselin and Trepanier. Canada outshot the Soviets 29-27 and closed the series with a 2-7-1 record.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Team Canada vs. Soviets 1984 Pre-Olympic Tour, Part 1

Exactly 30 years ago this week, the Canadian Olympic Hockey Team was engaged in a ten game exhibition series against the Soviets that took place right across the country. The team of amateurs assembled under coach Dave King early in the summer of 1983 for try-outs. By the end of August, 49 original players were chopped down to 26 and they headed to Sweden for a six game tour. Canada had a record of 3-2-1 on this trip before returning home to play NHL teams in pre-season.

The amateurs held their own with a respectable 2-3-2 record against the big league clubs including 6-3 victories over Minnesota and Winnipeg. Next came an eleven game series against the Americans in which Canada went 5-2-4 followed by games against minor-pro clubs and a trip to Moscow for the Izvestia tournament that took them to Christmas (they lost all four games in Moscow).

Starting on December 27, 1983, the Nats would play ten games over fourteen days against a Soviet "B" squad made up of mainly members of the Spartak squad in the Russian league. I have distinct memories of watching a few of these games that were televised nationally and remember getting excited about a 20-year old goaltender from Thetford Mines, Quebec named Mario Gosselin.

Game 1
Dec. 27, 1983 at Edmonton
Soviets 4, Canada 3
"I think they maybe took a few things for granted after seeing us in the Izvestia tournament," said coach Dave King. Canada had lost 8-1 to the Soviet National team the week prior. Leading scorer Pat Flatley missed this game with a shoulder injury but Canada took a 2-1 lead early in the second period on Gord Sherven's second marker. Victor Shalmov had the Soviets in the first and they notched three straight in the second by Victor Skurdyuk and a pair from Mikhail Varnakov (who would play for the Soviet team in the upcoming Canada Cup '84). Dave Tippett made cut it to 4-3 early in the third but Canada could not beat 30-year old Victor Doroschenko of Spartak for the equalizer.

Game 2
Dec 29, 1983 at Calgary
Soviets 4, Canada 2
"We outshot them 12-4 in the first period and when you outshoot a team like that you should be ahead," said Canadian defenceman Bruce Driver. The 1-1 score on goals by Vladimir Lavrentiev and Mark Morrison after the first became a 2-1 lead for Canada early in the second when defenceman Doug Lidster's 40-foot slap shot beat Doroschenko. Less than two minutes later however, Sergei Pryakhin handcuffed Canadian goaltender Mario Gosselin before 15,295 spectators. Pryakhin would later become the first Russian player allowed to leave to play in the NHL when he suited up for Calgary Flames in 1988. The Soviets got the winner early in the third on a sharp-angled wrist shot by Alexander Menchenkov before Lavrentiev put it away with just over three minutes remaining.

Game 3
Dec. 30, 1983 at Vancouver
Soviets 4, Canada 3
Vladimir Golikov, veteran of two Canada Cups, the Challenge Cup five World Champioships and an Olympicsgave the Soviets a 4-3 lead in the third period. Canada outshot the Soviets 33-32 before 8,393 fans at the Pacific Coliseum but still lacked the goal scoring punch to earn victory over the Soviets and their goaltender Doroschenko.

Game 4
Dec. 31, 1983 at Calgary
Soviets 7, Canada 2
Alexander Orlov, Sergei Kharin and Mikhail Varnakov scored in the first period and Victor Loginov and Yuri Vozhakov in the second made it 5-0 Soviets by the period's end. 12, 469 fans saw the teams trade two each in the third on goals by Vozhakov and Loginov again and Dan  Wood and Dave Tippett for Canada,

Game 5
Jan. 2, 1983 at Winnipeg
Soviets 7, Canada 6
Victor Skurdyuk scored the winner with 2:37 remaining handing Canada it's fifth straight loss to the Soviets. Canada actually held a 3-0 lead early in the game but the Soviets continually pecked away at goalie Darren Eliot to lead 4-3 after two periods before 6, 815 spectators at Winnipeg Arena. Teams traded three goals each in the final frame but Canada still dropped it's overall season record to 16-22-9. Goals were scored by Pryakhin, Yuri Vozhakov, Evgeny Shtepe, Victor Loginov, Sergei Giamaev and Sergei Kharin. Canada's tallies were from Warren Anderson, Doug Lidster, Dave Donnelly, Mike Ridley and Darren Lowe with two.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Team Canada 1964 Depart for Europe 50 Years Ago Today

Canada's Brian Conacher scoring against Switzerland

January 7, 1964
MONTREAL (CP) - Canada's Olympic hockey team stickhandled it's way through a last round of interviews late Monday night to board a plane for Paris and a 10-game exhibition tour of Europe that will complete it's warmup activities for the Winter Games at Innsbruck, Austria.
The 21-member team coached by Rev. David Bauer received a final blessing from the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association, which met in Toronto and ratified the amateur status of all it's players. Questions had been raised about the eligibility of defence man Rod Seiling, it's latest recruit.
Seiling, who joined the team from Toronto Marlboros of the OHA junior A group, had a trial with Rochester Americans of the professional AHL earlier this season and played once for the parent Toronto Maple Leafs of the NHL last year.

And with that, Canada's hopes for a gold medal departed their homeland enroute to the Olympic Games. This was the first time that the CAHA by way of Father David Bauer would have a full-time National squad. Bauer, ex-coach of St. Mikes hockey program in Toronto, gathered the top amateurs in university and Senior A hockey and formed a team in the fall of 1963. His two main goals were to bring a gold medal home to Canada, and to serve as a model team for educators and pro-hockey men disproving the archaic adage that you can't be a good hockey player and a good student as well.

In his 1970 autobiography "Hockey In Canada, The Way It Is", Brian Conacher described the early stages of the 1964 team's development.

When the two week camp at the University of Alberta ended, twenty-two players returned to Vancouver to take up our fall residence at the University of British Columbia. 'Residence' is a somewhat elegant term for the house in which the team actually lived. When we moved in, with eight players in the main house and the remainder in a pre-fab cottage, we had to make do with only one bathroom.
The first few weeks of practice were really weeks just for conditioning and breaking down each boy from his previous system of play, so that Bauer could then rebuild each player into a key link in his team. By early October (1963) we were ready to put on our sweaters for the first time as Canada;s 1964 Olympic Hockey Team. Our first three games were against three of the Western Professional teams that were just getting ready to start their season. In our first game against the Vancouver Canucks we lost 3-2, but bounced back in the next game to beat the Seattle Totems 3-1. In the last game of the series the Portland Buckaroos shut us out 4-0.

I found mention of that very first game in a Canadian Press snippet dated October 2, 1963. The game between the WHL Canucks and the National team (described here as "composed mostly of University of British Columbia players who are coached by Rev. David Bauer" was played at Chilliwack, BC before 620 spectators. The Olympic squad held a 1-0 lead after one period and a 2-1 lead after two before Vancouver defence man Ron Mathhews scored a pair in the third for a 3-2 win. Ray Cadieux and Roger Bourbonnais scored for Canada and Larry Popein had the other for the Canucks.

More to come in the next few days following the progress of Canada's first truly National team on this it's 50th anniversary.

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