Thursday, May 5, 2016

1966 Western Hockey League Playoff Program

Fifty years ago exactly, the Western Hockey League championship was being decided between the Victoria Maple Leafs and the Portland Buckaroos. Featured here is a game program issued in Portland for Game Two of the series on May 2, 1966. Lineups are below.

Both teams had won hard-fought, seven game series to advance to the final. Portland came back from down three games to two to beat Vancouver in games six and seven back in Portland by scores of 4-2 and 7-3. They were led by regular season scoring leader and runner-up, Cliff Schmautz and Art Jones. They notched 10 and 12 points repectively in the seven game set. Vancouver defenceman Larry Cahan erupted for a record 16 points in a losing effort. Cahan was a veteran of almost 400 NHL games at this point and had produced 48 points in the just-completed season. He would play four additional NHL years once the league expanded with Oakland and Los Angeles.

Victoria bested San Francisco in the semi-finals in similar fashion to Portland. Down three games to two they won the last two at home by scores of 5-4 and 6-1. The Leafs were topped by Milan Marcetta with 13 points and Bob Barlow with 11. Game one of the final series played on April 30 in Victoria, was won by the Maple Leafs in double overtime 6-5 on a goal by Claude Labrosse, assisted by goalie John Henderson.

In this second game of the series, Portland exacted revenge on their home ice. Led by the newly formed forward line of Bill Saunders, Len Ronson and Tom McVie the Buckaroos blasted the Leafs 6-2. The trio combined for 11 points, with Ronson potting a pair of goals and the others one each. Victoria's Andy Hebenton scored both of the Leafs goals. Hebenton had played nine full NHL seasons, never missing a game for 630 consecutive matches which was the record at the time. He would continue on to play 1,054 straight professional games including the Western League. The streak was only interupted in the 67/68 campaign when Hebenton attended his father's funeral. He would play 440 additional consecutive games before retiring in 1974. In all, Hebenton played an amazing 1,562 of 1,564 games over 22 full seasons.
In the program there's the great ad pictured above from Nordstrom's. Looks like Buckaroo, Larry Leach scored himself a nice pair of Nunn-Bush shoes as player of the month. Sweet. Oh, and just for good measure, here's a bio on Portland defenceman Doug Messier. His son played a bit in the NHL.
In the end, the two teams would alternate victories each game of the final. In Game seven back in Portland, Victoria embarrassed the Buckaroos by a score of 5-1 to take the Patrick Cup.

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