Sunday, March 1, 2015

Mystery Hockey Photo, Providence at Vancouver

I recently tweeted a great photo (above) of the old Western Hockey League Vancouver Canucks playing at the brand new PNE Coliseum. The photo is from the Vancouver Archives and is dated simply 1968-70. Low and behold, I received a reply from the twitter account @VanArchives asking if I knew the exact season for their records. Well, of course this is the kind of challenge I relish. Let's see if we can nail down when the pic was taken.

Firstly, it's easy to see that the visiting team was the Providence Reds of the American Hockey League, the two leagues played an inter-locking schedule in the late 1960's. Luckily, in the Vancouver Archives along with this photo are a few more taken at this same game. Using the photo database at , jersey numbers, as well as whether or not a player shoots right or left-handed, we can definitely name a few of the players and narrow down the time frame.

The Reds centre who is shown bursting out of the face off is easily identified as #8 John Sleaver (below) who played for Providence from 1966/67 through 68/69. This automatically eliminates the photo being from 1970. The Red on the far side with a #4 visible on his sleeve certainly looks like left-shooting Tony Goegan (below) who was a Red for five seasons, so he doesn't aid in narrowing it down any further.

John Sleaver, Reds 1966-1969

Tony Goegan, Reds 1965-1970

Checking out another photo from this game, it's easy to facially identify two Canucks. #2 and #12 are Larry McNabb and Billy McNeill respectively as seen in the headshots below. While McNeill was a Canuck from 1964 to 1969, we hit the jackpot with McNabb. He was a Canuck for ONLY the 1967/68 campaign.

Larry McNabb, Canucks 67/68
Billy McNeill, Cancuks 1964-69
We can further strengthen the case for the 67/68 season by looking at one other photo from this game. Vancouver #5 is definitely Larry Mavety (below) who also played with the Canucks for only this season. As well, look who's the goaltender for the Canucks, none other than RIGHT-hand catching, future Hall-of Famer, Tony Esposito. His only year with the Canucks?ou guessed it, 1967/68. 

Larry Mavety 67/68
Now to identify the rest of the players in the original photo. #10 for Vancouver could be either Mike Laughton or Ron Boehm. Both wore the number that year, and both shoot left-handed. There is one great difference between them however. Laughton stood 6'2" and Boehm 5'8". Comparing to the 5'8" Tony Goegan beside him, it's easy to say this #10 is Ron Boehm. The Providence player in the foreground (#15) would have to be right-shooting John Rodger who played 56 games for the Reds that year. As stated earlier John Sleaver is the #8 Red in the middle. The Canucks #9 would have to be Bruce Carmichael who played 71 games for them in 67/68, scoring 31 goals. The #5 Canuck on the blueline is the aforementioned Larry Mavety who lead the team with 148 PIM's that season.

One other note, now that the photo is identified as from the 1967/68 season it's amazingly easy to pin-point the exact date. Using we see that Providence visited Vancouver only one time that season. The game took place January 16, 1968 and the visiting Reds won by a score of 4-2.
As a bonus, below is a photo from my personal collection of Victoria Maple Leafs memorabilia; a signed photo of John Sleaver.

Finally, the original photo with the proper caption:
Jan. 16, 1968 Providence Reds 4 at Vancouver Canucks 2
Players L to R
Tony Goegan, Ron Boehm, John Rodger, John Sleaver, Bruce Carmichael, Larry Mavety

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