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.

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