Saturday, July 5, 2014

Maple Leaf Cup of Coffee; Ray Ceresino

I'm going to be looking at little-known Maple Leafs players of yesteryear, specifically those who had but one taste of the big time in the National Hockey League. All of these guys have a story to tell, the first is Ray Ceresino who played 12 games with the Leafs in December 1948, scoring but one career NHL goal.

 "A rookie and a veteran last night clicked for the Leafs. Ray Ceresino, former Port Arthur and Oshawa junior star, got his first NHL goal with less than three minutes left to beat the Bruins. He got it on a rink-wide pass from Max Bentley." This description from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is of the first and only NHL goal for Ray Ceresino. The marker came on December 12, 1948 after having been elevated from the AHL Pittsburgh Hornets two weeks prior. 

On December 1, The same newspaper reported; "Ray Ceresino, brilliant little left wing of the Pittsburgh Hornets, has been recalled by the parent Toronto Maple Leafs for a tryout tonight when the Leafs meet the Red Wings at Detroit." Ceresino had been a junior star with the Oshawa Generals, tallying 53 points in 28 games in 1946/47 to place 7th in league scoring. After one more season in the junior circuit he graduated to the AHL's Pittsburgh Hornets, farm club of the Maple Leafs. 
Having played regularly with Les Costello and fellow Port Arthur, Ontario native Rudy Migay in Pittsburgh, Ceresino produced at a point per game pace over the first 22 games of 1948 before his chance in the bigs. He would have the honour of skating alongside future Hall of Famer Max Bentley in his stint with the Leafs. In fact his one and only goal was assisted by Bentley and proved to be the winning mark against the Bruins.

Ceresino lasted 12 games with Toronto before being returned to Pittsburgh on Jan 3, 1949. He finished his rookie professional season in the AHL with 22 goals and 38 points in 47 games. He was traded at the start of the following season to Cleveland along with Harry Taylor and the loan of Tod Sloan for Bob Solinger. With the Barons, Ceresino was part of three AHL Calder Cup championships in the 1950's. After two different stints with Seattle Ironmen and Victoria Cougars out west, he returned home to play a year of Senior hockey with the Sault Ste. Marie Indians before retiring in 1957. Ray Ceresino is now 85 years old and still has an NHL game-winning goal, assisted by a Hall of Famer brag about.

Cersino's only NHL goal
Ceresino's only NHL assist

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