Sunday, December 13, 2015

An 11 Point Night in 1943 for Walter 'Pinky' Melnyk

Walter 'Pinky' Melnyk. Not a household name perhaps. He never played in the NHL, but played parts of two seasons in the American Hockey League prior to WWII. In 1942/43 Melnyk was a member of the terrific Victoria Army team in the Vancouver Island Senior Hockey League. Having won the league championship, the Army advanced to play the Vancouver RCAF Fliers of the BC Mainland Senior League.
During regular season play the Army scored almost at will, counting 127 goals over 20 games while compiling a 12-7-1 record. Led by ex-NHLers Bill Carse, Joffre Desilets and Nick Metz, Victoria Army dispatched Victoria RCAF and Victoria Navy in five straight games to meet the Vancouver Fliers in the BC Provincial Championship. 
After winning the first game 10-1, they destroyed the Vancouver squad by a score of 18-5 in game two on March 3, 1943 at New Westminster's Queens Park Arena. This was the game that saw Pinky Melnyk's eruption for eleven points. The boxscore is below.
Surprisingly, Melnyk did not register a point in the first 17 minutes of the first period before collecting a goal and assist in the last three minutes. Melnyk and line mates Sam Kennedy and Mel Lunde struck early and often in the second frame. Melnyk alone notched three goals and an assist before the period was twelve minutes old. He added another helper at 16:06 of the period and found time to receive two penalty minutes as well. 
After the break, Melnyk's line notched two goals in a nine second span, six minutes into the third to give him 5 goals and 4 assists. Two more assists in the 10th and 12th minutes upped Melnyk's total to a ridiculous 11 points on the evening. Crazily, Lunde had scored an un-assisted goal before Melnyk's last point and Lunde assisted on Kennedy's goal without Melnyk's help at 14:01 of the third. 
All tolled, Pinky Melnyk, Lunde (4 goals, 4 assists) and Kennedy (4 goals, 5 assists) combined for an amazing 28 points on the night.
Victoria Army went on to beat the Fliers 4 games to 1, then knocked off Calgary Currie Army 3 games to 2 and Winnipeg RCAF Bombers 3 games to 1 to advance to the Allan Cup Finals. They would meet the Ottawa Commandos who boasted NHL stars Mac and Neil Coville, Joe Cooper, Ken Reardon, Alex Shibicky and most importantly, "Sugar Jim" Henry between the pipes. The Commandos bested Victoria 3 games to 1 with no game decided by more than two goals. 
When the dust had finally settled, the line of Pinky Melnyk, Sam Kennedy and Mel Lunde combined for 82 points during the 18 game Allan Cup run, 28 of which were collected in that one fantastic game on March 3, 1943.
Melnyk missed the 1944/45 season due to Military Service but returned to star with the Minneapolis Millers of the USHL. Sam Kennedy also missed 44/45 due to Military Service and also returned to play in the USHL. He would also have a 27 game stint with Indianapolis of the AHL in 46/47. Mel Lunde played the 43/44 campaign with the Nanaimo Clippers before being sent overseas for active duty. He would be killed in action in Normandy on June 13, 1944.

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