Wednesday, November 30, 2016

1953/54 Victoria Cougars Program

14 cents
Recently, I picked up this beauty at a collectibles show. A 63 year-old game program from the old Western Hockey League. The game was at the Victoria Memorial Arena between the visiting Vancouver Canucks and the hometown Cougars on January 11, 1954. The Cougars featured up-and-coming 24 year-old Andy Hebenton who would score 21 goals this season, his fifth of top-level minor pro hockey. After an 80 point season for Victoria in 1954/55, Hebenton finally graduated to the New York Rangers and stayed in the NHL until 1964. 
On the other end of the scale, 35 year-old Billy Reay was in his first season as player/coach with Victoria after eight full years playing with the Montreal Canadiens. In 1957, Reay took over as Head Coach for Toronto Maple Leafs and in 1963 he began a 14 year stint as Head Coach in Chicago with the Black Hawks.
All-time great, Lester Patrick
70 year-old Lester Patrick was the President of the Cougars after having been inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1947. Lester even coached one game for the Cougars on Jan. 25, 1952 before ascending to the president's chair for good.
Andy Hebenton, on his way up
Billy Reay, on his way down
The opposition goaltender on this evening was one, Lorne Worsley, who had yet to earn his famous nickname. After having played 50 games the previous year with the New York Rangers (where he went 13-29-8), Worsley was returned to the Western League and the Canucks. In 53/54 he would lead the circuit with 39 wins and a 2.40 goals against average. He was named WHL goalie of the year and won the Leader Cup as League MVP.
24 year-old, pre-Gump, Lorne Worsley
Another future Hall of Famer toiling for Vancouver in this match was defenceman Allan Stanley. He had played the five previous years with the Rangers in the NHL before being sent down in 53/54. Stanley would notch an impressive 36 points in 47 games this year and never returned to the minor leagues again.
Vancouver ended up first place in the WHL in 53/54 with 85 points in 70 games, Victoria was fifth with 65 points. The Cougars lost four games to one to the Calgary Stampeders in the first round while Vancouver lost to the same Stampeders by four games to two in the WHL Finals. 
Fantastic Back Cover

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