Monday, August 24, 2015

Gordie Howe vs. Edmonton Oilers

This great photo showed up on my twitter timeline recently courtesy of the great @Super70sSports
No info was given other than what is obvious to the viewer, Gordie Howe and his Houston Aeros are playing the Edmonton Oilers in WHA action. Most good vinatge hockey fans will know that #3 and captain of the Oilers is Al Hamilton, but what year was this photo from?

Two simple pieces of information narrow down the year. Gordie Howe returned to hockey with the Aeros for the 1973/74 season and the Oilers logo switched from blue to orange lettering in 1974/75 (thanks to Now we can confirm that Oilers goalie in the pic is Chris Worthy who shared duties mainly with Jack Norris in 73/74. Worthy went 11-12-1 with a 3.80 GAA. Hamilton ended up a Second Team All-Star this season with 14 goals and 59 points. Howe of course returned with a bang this season scoring 100 points. He was named First Team All-Star and won the WHA's MVP.

Determining the exact date for the game is tougher as the Oilers visited Houston on four occaisons in 73/74 with the Aeros winning three of the four. The player in the distant left of the photo is slightly more difficult to identify. We can say for sure he is wearing a moustache and a helmet. Also his fuzzy number is definitely 1 "1" and what looks like a "3". Problem is, Edmonton didn't have a number 13 this season. It's fairly obvious that the second number definitely has an open top-left to it, so it has to be either 12 or 17. 

Rusty Patenaude wore 17 that year, but he was a right-handed shooter, so he's out. Number 12 was Brian McKenzie and he did shoot left. Two photos of him are below. Yep, McKenzie had a moustache. I can't find photos of him wearing a helmet, but I think it's safe to say that's him in the background of this great photo.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Leafs vs. Habs 1945 Playoffs; Toronto Archives Photos

L to R: Ted Kennedy, Reg Hamilton, Mel Hill, Frank McCool, Elmer Lach, Bob Davidson
These terrific photos come from the Toronto Archives website and are all dated March 27, 1945. This was the date of the fourth game of the Stanley Cup semifinals won in overtime by Toronto 4-3. In 1944/45, Montreal had put together one of the greatest regular seasons in NHL history by collecting 80 points over the 50 game schedule. This of course was also the year in which Maurice Richard scored 50 goals in 50 games. Toronto had trudged along to 52 points, barely over the .500 mark to finish third place. 

The Leafs had won the first two games of the series in Montreal by scores of 1-0 and 3-2 before losing game three at Maple Leaf Gardens by 4-1. After taking a three games to one series lead in this one Montreal bounced back big time winning game five by 10-3 back in The Forum. Toronto closed out the series with a 3-2 win at home in game six. 

The Habs started with a flurry in game four with a goal by Elmer Lach, 23 seconds into the match (pictured at top). Richard made it 2-0 less than two minutes later. The Leafs began pouring it on soon after and according to a Canadian Press article the day after "Bill Durnan made 56 stops compared with 25 for Frank McCool in the Leaf nets." The thing is, Montreal's record-book for saves in a playoff game shows Patrick Roy with 60 and Jaroslav Halak second with 53. Therefore, it's doubtful that Durnan made that many saves but Toronto did indeed wake up after the early deficit. 

Mell Hill scored from Kennedy (pictured at bottom) and Sweeey Schriner tied it at two before the second was over. Young Bob Fillion put Montreal up at 3:47 of the third before Babe Pratt even the game once again halfway through. Leaf Gus Bodnar won the game in the thirteenth minute of overtime when he blasted a goal past Durnan from a face-off in the Montreal end. 
L to R:Bob Fillion, Wally Stanowski, Reg Hamilton, Sweeney Schriner, King Clancy referee, Murph Chamberlain
Toronto would go on to hold off Detroit to win the Stanley Cup in seven games, their first of five Cup victories in seven seasons.
Leo Lamoureux #4,  Mel Hill scoring,  Ted Kennedy #10

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