Thursday, December 13, 2018

Maple Leafs Magazine Project #1

Over the last few years I have been posting all the Maple Leaf game programs I own, dating back to 1930. I keep them over at what I call the Maple Leafs Programme Project. The long term goal is to try to collect at least one Leafs program from every year played in Maple Leaf Gardens. I believe I have 35 of the 50 seasons covered from 1930 (Mutual Street Arena) to 1979. We're getting there. 
Now, I've decided to do the same for all the magazines in my collection that feature Maple Leafs covers (most are either Leafs or early Gretzky). The first one above, is a terrific looking cover of Liberty magazine from December 16, 1933. Liberty was a general interest magazine along the lines of The Saturday Evening Post and was published until 1950. Even though this issue depicts Leafs and New York Rangers on the front, there is no corresponding article inside. So, all we get to enjoy is the terrific cover.
This beauty here is from March 1948, Sportfolio magazine picturing Turk Broda on the cover with an in depth article in side. This was a smaller, almost pocket-sized magazine published in Canada that was chock-full of sports articles and photos.
Amongst the article's tidbits are the fact Broda's entire equipment setup costs $200, he won the Leafs team golf championship and plays Handball during the season to keep his reflexes sharp. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Victoria Cougars 1952

Here's another great old hockey photo, this one found in the online Victoria, BC Archives. It's simply titled "Victoria Cougars players with boy in trench coat, 1952". Looking at the Society for International Hockey Research player photo database, it's fairly easy to determine the three players in the photo. From Left to Right; Bernie Strongman, Eddie Mazur, James Fodey.
Winnipeg native, Bernie Strongman played for Victoria from 1949 through 1953 when he retired. He had helped the Cougars win the Lester Patrick Cup as champions of the Pacific Coast Hockey League. According to the Society for International Hockey Research database, Strongman is alive to this day, having turned 99 years old in June.
Eddie Mazur played two full seasons with Victoria before being called up by the Montreal Canadiens for the 1951 Stanley Cup playoffs. After potting 43 goals for the Cougars, Mazur got into two matches for the Habs that spring, the year they lost to Bill Barilko's Maple Leafs. After helping Montreal win the 1953 Stanley Cup (scoring 4 points in 7 playoff games), Mazur would play a full season with the Canadiens in 1953/54, tallying 21 points over 67 games.
On the right we have goaltender Jerry Fodey, and his very presence helps nail down the date of this photo. Although the file of the photo says 1952, Jerry Fodey played but one season for Victoria, 1949/50. Strongman and Mazur both played that season as well, so the photo must be form the 49/50 campaign. That year the Cougars finished sixth and a distant last place in the PCHL's North Division, Fodey playing all but one of the 70 games while posting a somewhat respectable 4.29 GAA.
The Victoria Cougars name, which had originated in 1922 with the Patrick brothers in the Pacific Coast Hockey Association and transferred to the Detroit Cougars in 1926 (and eventually the Red Wings) would last in the Western League until 1961. The name was re-incarnated in the BCJHL in 1967, the major junior WCHL/WHL in 1971 and finally the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League Junior B circuit from 2002 to present.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Willie O'Ree Rare Photos

With today being the day Willie O'Ree is inducted into the Builders wing of the Hockey Hall of Fame, it's a good time to share a couple rare photos of the trailblazing player. These are from the collection of our friends at Vintage Sports Images .
The first photo shows O'Ree with the Boston Bruins in what has to be the 1960/61 campaign as bespectacled Al Arbour is with Chicago. O'Ree had played two games with Boston in 57/58, but this was his only full season (mostly) in the NHL, playing 43 games and tallying 14 points. Behind O'Ree is big Bill Hay and of course in net is Mr. Goalie, Glenn Hall.
This next photo shows O'Ree later in his playing career with the San Diego Gulls of the Western Hockey League. Willie starred for for the Gulls from 1967/68 to 1973/74. To narrow down the timeframe on this photo we look at the other players in the picture. Using the SIHR photo database it is determined that the Gull on the left side is Bruce Carmichael who was a Western League star for fifteen seasons. His only season with San Diego was 1968/69 in which he notched 26 goals in 74 games. 
The middle Gull congratulating O'Ree on an apparent goal scored is Alex Faulkner, the first Newfoundlander to play in the NHL. He played one game with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1960/61 then 100 games with the Red Wings the next two seasons. 1968/69 was Faulkner's second with San Diego and he tallied 67 points in 71 games. As for O'Ree, that season he collected 38 goals and 79 points in 70 games finishing fifth in the WHL in goals.
The opponent for the Gulls on this night was the Portland Buckaroos, #12 Mike Donaldson with his back to the camera and peaking out from behind Faulkner is the legendary Connie "Mad Dog" Madigan. 
Willie O'Ree would produce over 700 points in the high minor leagues before initially retiring in 1974. He played a few more years of senior hockey in San Diego and even came back to score a point-per-game with the San Diego Hawks of the Pacific Hockey League in 78/79 at the age of 43.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Maple Leafs' Torrid Scoring Starts Pale to Mario

What a helluva time to be a Maple Leafs fan. After literally a lifetime of suffering through mostly atrocious teams (with a few glimmering points), it appears we have finally come out on the other side. Toronto is a legitimate contender and a high-powered scoring juggernaut. I sure as hell am going to enjoy the ride, hopefully for at least a few years (please, hockey gods).
After their fifth game of the 2018/19 campaign, the Leafs hold the top four spots in NHL scoring; Matthews and Rielly with 12 and Tavares and Marner with 10. 
I mean, Matthews just broke Wayne Gretzky's record for youngest player with at least 12 points in their first 5 games of a season...and Rielly broke Bobby Orr's modern record for most points by a defenceman in their first five games of a season... I need to lay down.
In all seriousness though, as good as these numbers are, it's fun to look at two of the greatest ever and how they came out of the gates through the years.
The Great One had at least 12 points in his first 5 games of the season a ridiculous TEN different times, topping out with 15 points (7 g, 8a) in 1983/84. Matthews does have him on goals though as those seven were Gretzky's most in his first five games of a season. Crazy.
That brings us to Mario Lemieux. This is were things get just silly. In October 1988, in his first five games of the season, Mario cranked out NINE goals and TEN assists for NINETEEN points, easily the most of anyone since then. This of course, was the year he challenged Gretzky's all-time records for goals and points. Although he ended up missing four games, he finished with 85 goals (7 behind the record) and 199 points. The thing is, in his NEXT five games, Mario collected 18 MORE points. After 10 games of the 1988/89 campaign, Le Magnifique had 16 goals, 21 assists and 37 points. 
This wasn't an anomaly for Mario, in 1992 he scored 17 points in his first 5 and 32 in his first 10 games. And in 1995 he tallied 32 points once again in the first 10 games of the season. These guys sure could fill the net back in the day. I miss fire-wagon hockey, and perhaps it's beginning to make a comeback.
Now, nobody is seriously comparing Auston Matthews and Morgan Rielly to Gretzky, Lemieux and Orr...but, the rate that they are producing at this moment really does make it fun to compare numbers. For now, I will enjoy the run. 
Before this season began I personally just wanted to get the regular season over and for get the Leafs playoffs to begin. This is where the real history is made and my childhood/lifetime of enduring the Leafs can be justified. But, seeing as how these guys are breaking scoring records...maybe the regular season will be worthwhile after all. Let the fun continue.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Vintage Hockey Photo, Vancouver Canucks vs. Seattle Ironmen

Above is an action-packed photo I found in the Vancouver Archives database (I believe that's where I found it, I save so many old hockey pics sometime I forget where exactly I found them). It was labelled only with the year "1948", and clearly shows the old Vancouver Canucks and Seattle Ironmen of the Pacific Coast Hockey League. 
The PCHL was a professional circuit existing from 1944 through 1952 when it became the professional  Western Hockey League. The problem with the photo is there are literally no player numbers visible, making identification difficult...difficult, but not impossible. Looking through the Society for International Hockey Research database, it's fairly easy to narrow down the Canuck who's driving the net as Scotty McPherson or Bob Drainville (see pics below).

Both players were left-handed shooters who played for the Canucks in 1948/49. This would be Drainville's only season with Vancouver, while McPherson played the next two full seasons as well. Drainville was a defenceman and McPherson was a centreman who scored 21 goals in 48/49, it may have been somewhat strange for a defender to be rushing the opposition net, but not unexpected even 70 years ago. Facially, it's tough to determine with certainty which player it is, but in my mind it's the curly, puffy hair that makes be lean toward McPherson. The Lethbridge, Alberta native played as high as the AHL for two seasons in the mid-40's. Either way, it does seem to confirm that the photo is from 1948.
So, if this is indeed the 1948/49 campaign, the Seattle goaltender would likely be Jerry Cotnoir who played 65 of 70 games in net for the Ironman in 48/49...however, does this goalie look like him? I'm not so sure. Perhaps the year provided with the original photo was wrong (they often are merely guesses).
Jerry Cotnoir 1948/49 Seattle

In looking at the Seattle rosters for the few seasons surrounding 1948, we come upon one Phil "Red" McAtee (below) who played 61 games for Seattle in 1950/51. McAtee also played 15 games for them in 46/47, a year before the date on listed with the archived photo.
In looking at the Canuck player photo records for 1946/47, there really are no players who match the guy driving the net, however Scotty McPherson was still with them in 50/51, scoring another 21 goals. I am much more confident that the photo shows McAtee in net and McPherson attempting to score, during the 1950/51 season. McAtee, from Stratford, Ontario had just completed two seasons with the AHL's Springfield Indians under the iron fist of Eddie Shore and was perhaps looking for a respite on the West Coast. 
As far as any of the other players in the photo, there is one that may be identifiable. The Seattle defenceman directly in the middle of the photo, facing almost face-on into the camera appears to be one Bill Boorman of Spruce Grove, Alberta. If those high cheekbones and long nose aren't a match, then I don't know what is.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Wayne Gretzky...Phenom or Phony?

I recently picked up this hockey magazine from November 1978 for two reasons; a Maple Leaf (Tiger Williams) is pictured on the cover, and there's an article about a young Wayne Gretzky inside.
Written by Shirley Fischler, wife of Stan and a renowned hockey writer herself. 
Fischler describes the 17-year old Gretzky as having "fresh good looks" in "well-worn khaki jeans, denim t-shirt and Philadelphia Phillies baseball cap". Gretzky is quoted,"I let my agent, Gus (Badali), carry the money. I just want enough cash to pay my expenses."He also states, "In my life, girls always came third, after hockey and school."
What I really like are the fairly rare photos of Gretz in a pre-season photo-shoot wearing the Indianapolis Racers jersey. He of course played a mere 8 games for Indy, collecting 6 points. The trade to Edmonton on November 2, 1978 happened likely as this magazine was hitting the newsstands. The rest is history. I'd say the 17-year old "fresh" kid was certainly a phenom instead of a phony. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

1941/42 Pacific Coast Senior Hockey Association, Part 7

As the Vancouver Norvans and Nanaimo Clippers finished tied with 29 points in the Coast League standing, two points behind Victoria, they would play each other in the best-of-three Semi-final. Before they could do that however, league President Jack Ryan ordered that they play a two-game total game series to determine the out-right second place finisher. The winner would be granted home ice advantage for the Semifinal. Norvan playing/coach Tip O'Neill figured his squad had "an even chance" of taking second place. He admitted that former NHLer Dave MacKay had added considerable  strength to the Clippers but added, "The fact that Victoria Bapcos beat them proves they are not unbeatable, and we were never worried by Victoria."
Vancouver Feb. 20- Nanaimo Clippers Defeat Norvans in Opening Match, 9-2
"Nanaimo Clippers defeated Vancouver Norvans 9-2 here tonight to go into a seven-goal lead in the two-game total-goal playoff series to decide second place in the Pacific Coast Intermediate Amateur Hockey League standings. The second game will be played in Nanaimo tomorrow night and the series winner will benefit by the extra home game in the best-of-three semifinal to determine who will meet Victoria Bapcos, league winners, in the final."
Dave MacKay and Jackie Mann each scored three goals for the Clippers while Bill Nelson tallied both Norvans markers. The Norvans now had a seemingly insurmountable hole to climb out of. The next night, they proved that in fact it was.
Nanaimo Feb. 21- MacKay's Goal Is Deciding Counter In Narrow Victory
Former Big Leaguer Fires Home Tally Which Gives Clippers 4-3 Win Over Norvans in Second Game of First Playoff Series-Up-Islanders Take Round, 13-5 - Meet in Semifinals
"Both squads will meet in Nanaimo on Monday night in the first game of the semis to determine Victoria Bapcos rival in the final for the Coast title. Second game will be in Vancouver on Tuesday night, with the third game, if necessary, set for Thursday back in Nanaimo.
Norvans had a 2-1 lead early in the 3rd period on two goals from Kenny Barker and one from Red Beattie. Even so, the Clippers lead in the total-goal series was just too large. Onto the semifinals.
Nanaimo Feb. 22- "The win for Clippers proved a costly one as they will probably lose the services of their ace defenceman, Nick Smith, who sustained a serious concussion when viciously charged by Bonneville into the boards back of the Norvan net in the dying minutes of the hectic and bitterly fought battle. The injured player was removed to the dressing room for immediate attention and then ordered to the hospital by the club physician. The incident left a nasty taste in the fans' mouth, and was by far the most uncalled for check dished out on local ice this season."
The Norvans held a 2-1 lead halfway through the 3rd period on 1st period goals by Johnny Ursaki and Red Beattie. Nanaimo potted three markers in the final six minutes of the match with goals from Kilburn, Martinson and Carr.
Vancouver Feb 23-"Vancouver Novans extended the best-of-three Coast League semi-finals here tonight when they outfought Nanaimo Clippers, 4-3, in the second game of the series before 5,000 fans. Play opened fast and a bruising pace was set throughout. The rough-house tactics that developed into a near battle-royal in Nanaimo last night appeared on the verge of reoccurring tonight as tempers flared early in the first period, but officials restored peace before and damage was done." Norvans goals were notched by Red Beattie, Ken Barker, Jack Riley and Norm McQuade. 
Nanaimo Feb 26- "Clippers Speed Into Final Series Against Victoria Bapcos Here on Saturday by Blanking Mainlanders 7-0 The fixture, although  failing to produce much spectacular  hockey, went over well with the fans. Clippers had command of the play for the best part of the game, with Norvans only coming close on four occasions to shattering Goalie Keith Langill's shutout."
So, that was it for the Norvans 1941/42 season. Including the two-game series to determine second place, they essentially lost four games to one against the Nanaimo Clippers. The three middle games were close affairs, but Nanaimo won the first and fifth games by margins of seven goals. 
Nanaimo would win the first game in Victoria by a score of 3-2, then posted a 6-3 win back home on March 2. Two nights later at Willows Arena in Victoria, the Bapcos staved off elimination with a 5-3 victory in a see-saw affair.
The following night, March 6, 1942, Nanaimo Clippers captured the Pacific Coast Amateur Hockey League championship with a 3-1 victory, the same margin they won the series. In a strange occurrence, during the course of the game the teams and 3,400 spectators at the Nanaimo arena were informed over the public address system that the mother of Victoria goalie Laurel Harney was on her death bed. The goaltender set out after the second period trailing 2-1 to get to the Mainland as quickly as possible in order to catch a plane home to Edmonton. Stan Currie replaced Harney in the cage and yielded but one goal on thirteen shots against. It was disclosed later that Mrs. Harney had passed away.
The Clippers began the British Columbia Intermediate Championship against the Vernon Hydrophones in Nanaimo on March 10. They would win the series in two straight by scores of 5-2 and 5-3 and moved on to face Alberta's Luscar Indians. The Clippers continued their roll with wins by scores of 9-4 and 15-8 to move on to face Swift Current Indians in the Western finals. In the second game Clippers' Doug Martinson potted five goals while Jackie Mann and Dave MacKay each had three. The Clippers would go on to become Western Canadian Champions, defeating Swift Current, taking the opener by a score of 6-0 then the second match 5-2.
On April 6, the Clippers concluded their season by taking on the Armed Services All-Stars at Victoria's Willows Arena. The Clippers would lose their first match in a month by a score of 9-6 against the stacked Services Stars.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

1941/42 Pacific Coast Senior Hockey Association, Part 6

Ex-NHLer Jack Riley
The addition of Jack Riley, who had recently been reinstated as an amateur, continued to pay off for the Vancouver Norvans Shipyard squad;The Vancouver Sun headline blared;"NORVANS ALONE ON TOP, Jack Riley Spearhead Of Shipyard Offense Before 4000 at Forum." The Daily Colonist exclaimed, "Norvans Register Over Clippers to Take First Berth Vancouver Hockey Squad, Paced by Jack Riley, Scores 7-3 Victory Over Nanaimo in Coast Ice League - Breaks First-Place Tie With Victoria Bapcos - Second Period Rough." The headline and byline said it all, The Daily Colonist went on to describe the rough match; "Jack Riley, recently reinstated pro, paced Norvans with two goals while Frank Pietrosky, Ken Barker, Johnny Ursaki, Bill Nelson and Norm McQuade supplied the others. Jackie Mann was the only Nanaimo scorer, netting all three of his team's goals." The Vancouver Sun wrote; "Sticks were high and so were Nanaimo tempers...there was a spot of incidental entertainment as Jimmy Kilburn, Nanaimo's chunky defenseman, and Pete Bonneville came to fighting. Most of the action in this scrap, however, centred around a promenade fan who reached over and clouted Kilburn during the scuffle."
Tickets available for the Feb. 6 match
Three nights later, in Victoria, the Norvans were delivered a very rude wake-up call. The Vancouver Sun posted the headline;"BAPCOS SWAMP CHEEKY NORVAN ICEMEN". The Daily Colonist described the debacle thusly, "Piling up the season's largest score, Victoria Bapcos last night snowed the Vancouver Norvans under an avalanche of goals for a 15-2 victory in a puckchasing fixture played before another packed house at Willows Arena. The locals flashed championship form and turned in what was by far their best team effort since the lifting of the curtain on the Coast's new hockey setup. They outskated the Norvans, backchecked them to death and turned in a grand all-round performance that left the Mainland sextette entirely out in the cold...even with Tio O'Neill and Jack Riley on the line-up the visitors had little to offer in the way of opposition to the speedy, fast-breaking paintmen...they ripped the Norvan's defence wide open and skated right in on top of young Tommy Horne, Vancouver goalie, for telling markers, and there was nothing Mr. Horne could do about it. Every member of the Victoria team picked up scoring points, with Bus Algar pacing the attack with a quartette of goals (and two helpers). The Bapcos looked like champions, and the sound whipping they administered the Norvans will probably throw a scare into the other clubs in the circuit." The Sun added further post-game analysis;"Don't blame (Norvan goalie) Tommy Horne for last night's debacle. After Victoria got a few goals up the Norvan rearguard forgot all about defense-which is not much of a trick for them at any time. In the Norvans dressing room after the game the boys were hot,  but Johnny Ursaki philosophically said, 'Well, this will probably bring us down to earth again'. When Norm McQuade said,'We shoulda missed the boat,' Ken Barker came back with,'Should of, we did!'".
Even defenders Sutherland and McIntyre chipped in goals in the rout of the Norvans
Back home at the Forum on Feb. 9, 1942, the Norvans answered the demolishing they took at the hands of Victoria by administering one of their own. They trounced Mainland rivals New Westminster by a score of 14-3 to jump back into top spot in the Coast league and clinch a playoff spot in the process; "Norvans Run Wild Against Spitfires To Score 14-3 Win Norvans were predominant throughout and went through to score almost at will, almost duplicating the 15-2 beating they absorbed from Victoria Bapcos last Friday at Victoria. Pete Bonneville paced Norvans with four goals and Ken Barker, Norm McQuade and Bill Nelson each contributed two."
The victory assured that the Norvans would not finish in fourth spot, therefore clinching a playoff berth even though they had a -12 goal scoring differential overall.
The Norvans however would continue their pendulum-like performance between good and bad the following night in New West as the Spitfires bested them by a score of 8-4. The Vancouver Sun reported on the affair; "New Westminster Spitfires made their 14-3 beating of Monday night in Vancouver look like a was one of those loose games where players are left dangling like sheep all over the ice, especially Norvan players who didn't seem able to keep up. Jack Riley, Red Beattie and Tip O'Neill, the purified trio, looked like three other guys just out for the ride. Riley couldn't get his smooth passes away; O'Neill didn't seem very anxious to strain himself, and Beattie was ganged up on early." The result concluded Norvans regular schedule after collecting 29 points in 28 games. 
As the Norvans waited for the other teams to complete their schedule over the next few days, they would play a highly anticipated exhibition match. Since the new year, there was talk of the Victoria Navy hockey team playing an exhibition game against one of the Coast League teams. The Navy boys were dominating the military circuit on the Island and had eyes on a run at the Allan Cup. They were indeed a quality team, as they bested the Norvans 3-0 on Feb. 13, 1942 at a packed Vancouver 
Feb. 14, 1942 Nanaimo vs Victoria
 Nanaimo defeated Victoria in their next match to tie them for top spot in the league. Victoria would beat New West in their final game of the season, which gave the Bapcos first place in the final standings. This set up a semi-final matchup between Norvans and Nanaimo for the right to play Victoria in the final.
The Clippers late surge was partly attributed to the addition of ex-NHL defender Dave MacKay who had spent the previous season with Chicago. He would play the final four games for Nanaimo before leading the way in the playoffs. 
Final standings for the Coast league in 1941/42

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

1941/42 Pacific Coast Senior Hockey Association, Part 5

Red Beattie, a veteran of over 300 NHL games with Boston would  score 15 goals in 41/42 tied for the Norvans lead
The four-way tie of all the teams in the Coast League was short-lived. On January 5, 1942 a league ruling changed up the look of the standings; "NANAIMO-Commisioners of the Pacific Coast Intermediate Hockey League, in a special meeting here yesterday, upheld the protest of Victoria Bapcos against use by Nanaimo Clippers of three allegedly inelligible players in a December 20 game and ruled that he game in question be replayed on a date to be set later by the clubs involved. Victoria had protested Nanaimo’s use in a game at Nanaimo, December 20 of Red Carr, Jack Mann  and Fergy McPherson, despite the fact the three had been given match penalties in a game the previous night at Victoria which Nanaimo won 2-1. Clarence Campbell, former N.H.L. referee now at Victoria taking an officers’ training course with the militia, will be appointed to handle Victoria games as soon as the league receives official application from him."Future NHL President, Clarence Campbell makes an appearance in the brief history of the Pacific Coast Senior Hockey Association, taking over the officiating duties of games in Victoria.
Norvans shook off their first loss in five by battling New Westminster to back-to-back ties on Jan. 6 and 7, the second of the two coming on a goal in the last seconds of play; "NEW WESTMINSTER-Vancouver Norvans came roaring back from behind a three goal defecit here tonight to hold New Westminster Spitfires to a 4-4 overtime tie in a Pacific Coast Intermediate Amateur Hockey League game.The inter-city rivals fought the past two nights for the league leadership, but drew on both occasions. Each team now has seventeen points. Spitfires ran up a 4-1 lead after eleven minutes of play in the final period, but Norvans’ rally brought two goals in less than one minute. Ken Barker fired Norvans’ second goal at the twelve-minute mark and fifty-four seconds later supplied a neat pass for Red Beattie, who cut the lead to one goal at 4-3. The teams fought hammer and tongs during the remaining seven minutes and Norvans topped off their rally by knotting the count with a goal by Norm McQuade with a mere fifteen seconds remaining to play, sending the game into overtime. They failed to break the deadlock in the extra frame."
Norm McQuade with the Wembley Monarchs in 1936/37
Norm McQuade, who was 32-years old at the time would tally six goals and thirteen points for the Norvans in 41/42. He had previously played in the Memorial Cup, four Allan Cups and also won a Silver medal representing Great Britain in the 1937 World Championships.
The next week, the standings cinched up tight once again;  "VANCOUVER-Nanaimo Clippers beat Vancouver Norvans, 6-3 here tonight in a game that wound up in a near-riot, and left all four teams of the Pacific Coast Intermediate Hockey League tied up. With one minute left to play, Art Schuman and Hoppy Hoppus tangled near the Nanaimo net and before they could be separated, ‘Red’ Carr joined in. All three were sent off for ‘rest of the game’ penalties."
Despite their far improved play of the last month, the Norvans would find themselves in the basement of the Coast loop once again by Jan. 20 with a tough home loss to Victoria; "VANCOUVER-Displaying effective ruggedness, Victoria Bapcos forged into a two-point lead in the Pacific Coast Intermediate Hockey League standings here tonight when they disposed of Vancouver Norvans’ 2-1, breaking a three-way tie for leading honors."
The league held an organizational meeting two days later and the matter of playoff qualification rules was raised by none other than Harry Jones, manager of the Vancouver Forum, home of the Norvans. "With the fixture list rapidly drawing to a close, Hary Jones, has appealed to the league to have all the clubs participate in the series. Anybody can see through Mr. Jones’ latest move. Norvans are in the cellar spot at present and there is a possibility that they will be the club which will be left on the sidelines when play-off time comes around. Mr. Jones doesn’t want to see that Forum idle while Victoria, Nanaimo and New Westminster are collecting from the front offices in the post-season series matches."
The very next evening, the Norvans took matters into their own hands by defeating the first-place Victoria Bapcos in their home rink as described by the Daily Colonist; "Turning in their best performance of the season on Victoria ice, Vancouver Norvans were certainly deserving of victory, their first over the Bapcos at the Willows Arena. Victoria Bapcos, resting at the top of the Pacific Coast Hockey Amateur Hockey League standings, looked anything but like the leading club in the circuit last night. They were outplayed and out skated by the cellar-occupant Norvans and, but for the work of Laurel Harney, their cool, clever net custodian, would have taken a much worse setback. The Vancouver first-string line of Ursaki, Beattie and Bonneville turned in good exhibitions for the visitors, with the clever 'Red' Beattie setting the pace and making most of the openings."
Pete Bonneville, pictured with the Halifax Crescents in 1945/46
Cornwall, Ontario native, Pete Bonneville ended up topping the Norvans with 15 goals and 33 points while playing all 28 games in 1941/42. He finished eighth in the league point scoring ladder. Norvans coach, Tip O'Neil was asked by the Daily Colonist after the win in Victoria about this chances for the league title; "Well, from now on watch that club of mine go. I see where you stated that the Norvans may be the team which will be left out in the cold. I have a good hockey club which is under-estimated by a lot of people, especially those in Victoria and Nanaimo, but when playoff time comes around they will know we are still in the league. Although I am cleared by the National Hockey League officials, I will not be playing this year, but Jack Riley will probably be wearing a uniform before very long."
Norvans player/coach Tip O'Neil
The fine play of the Norvans failed to carryover the next night as they travelled to Nanaimo; "Clippers Come From Behind to Trim Vancouver Norvans, 7-3, to Take Second Position in Coast Hockey League - Shipbuilders Lead 3-0 at One Stage Going into the final period trailing by two goals, Clippers turned on the heat right from the whistle. The final frame was marked by scenes of the wildest uproar with penalties being handed out with ways as tempers crept higher and higher. For two periods Norvans had much the better of the play and looked to have the game well in hand up to the final period, when Clippers suddenly came to life with a vengeance." Perhaps a cause for the sudden turnaround of the Norvans fortune was explained by Joe Delahunty in the Daily Colonist; "Goalie Tommy Horne was going great in the Vancouver net at Nanaimo until a rabid Up-Island fan tossed a lighted cigarette down the back of his sweater. The spectator got lost in the crowd before the police could locate him."
Two days later, the Norvans were back on home ice at the Forum and once again put forward a fine effort against Victoria; "Bapcos Defeated By Vancouver in Close Match, 3-2 Displaying a well-balanced team, Vancouver Norvans came from behind here tonight to down Victoria Bapcos, 3-2."
As the month of January wound down, the League standings tightened up once again with Norvans and Nanaimo producing big wins on Jan. 30 causing a three-way tie at 23 points with them and Victoria. The Norvans 6-4 win over New West was bolstered by the addition of former NHL-er Jack Riley.
Jack Riley shown with Montreal in 1934
"Vancouver Novans outfought New Westminster Spitfires and emerged with a 6-4 victory in a fast, wide-open Pacific Coast Intermediate Amateur Hockey League game here tonight. Jack Riley, former Vancouver Lions player of the now defunct Pacific Coast Professional League who received word today of his amateur reinstatement, bolstered Norvans and had a steadying effect." Riley contributed immediately, with two helpers on goals by Ken Barker. Riley had played full NHL seasons with Montreal in 33/34 and 34/35, producing 17 points and 15 points in each campaign. In 1940/41 he topped the PCHL with 40 assists for the Vancouver Lions. In addition to Riley, player/coach O'Neill had been officially reinstated as an amateur but he was unsure of whether or not he'd actually suit up for his Norvans. "The decision was handed out by President George Dudley. Both would have received their amateur cards a long time ago but for the stubbornness of Guy Patrick, former manager of the professional Vancouver Lions. Patrick wanted them to play with the Tulsa Oilers this season, but Riley and O'Neill turned him down flat." A West coast legend ended up being a large influencer in the two players being reinstated, Fred 'Cyclone' Taylor helping to pull the strings back east, Vancouver Sun told, "Cyclone Taylor is back from his annual trip East. Cyclone had a talk with the powers that be in his inimitable, sincere way, and Tip O'Neill and Jack Riley were declared free agents, free to get amateur cards to play for Norvans. The Coast is fortunate, having a respected hockey immortal like Taylor and the amateur league which is going so well might do well to invite him into their executive."
Normans beat New West 6-4 at The Forum, Jan. 30, 1942
The following night the teams re-matched with Victoria exacting revenge on Nanaimo and the Norvans dismantling the Spitfires once again in New Westminster; "Displaying a well-balanced team, Norvans had command of most of the play and Goalie Tom Horne turned in a brilliant performance and registered his first shutout of the season. Johnny Ursaki scored two of Norvans' goals and Pete Bonneville and Jack Riley got the other two."

Next up, will the addition of NHL-er Jack Riley continue to pay dividends?

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