Tuesday, December 19, 2017

The First Game

Montreal Arena, site of Toronto's first NHL game
100 years ago today, the NHL and the Maple Leafs franchise began. The Montreal Wanderers defeated the Toronto Arenas by a score of 10-9. Below are a few descriptions of that very first game from newspapers of the day.
Toronto World newspaper, Dec 20, 1017
"About 700 people witnessed the initial professional hockey game of the season at the Arena, when the Wanderers won from Toronto by a score of 10-9. The play was somewhat ragged at times, and the visiting team (Toronto) was weak in goal. The Torontos had the better of the argument most of the game, but neither Hebert, who was the Toronto goalkeeper in the earlier part of the game, nor Brooks, in the second session, stopped the Wanderers shots as they might have done. Wanderers used Lindsay thruout and he proved more serviceable to the home team than either Hebert or Brooks."
"The visitors' forwards, Skinner, Denneny and Noble, were fast and good shots, and Randall and Cameron made excellent defence."
Harry Cameron
Montreal Gazette newspaper, Dec. 20, 1917
"Had either Heberts or Brooks shown any ability to stop shots, the Torontos would have no doubt won, as they had the best of the play the greater part of the time...Toronto, with a better man in nets will have to  be reckoned with this winter. Their forwards Skinner, Denneny and Noble are fast and good shots. While Randall and Cameron make a splendid defence. The Wanderers were lost without the two Cleghorns."
"Toronto played better hockey in the closing period than in either of the other two and outplayed the locals by three to one...The visitors were in better condition than the locals and finished much fresher. The Redbands held the lead accured early in the game by playing three men on defence allowing only two men to make the trips up the ice. "
Toronto would indeed shore up their goaltending a week later when they brought back future Hall of Famer  Hap Holmes from Seattle of the Pacific league. Holmes help guide them to a first place finish in the second half of the season (which was in truth only 8 of the 22 total games each team played).
Toronto dispatched Montreal Canadiens to win the NHL Championship and went on the win the Stanley Cup over Vancouver. 

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