Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Canucks Turn 40

There was an interesting feature on TSN's pre-game show last week prior to the Vancouver Canucks playing in Chicago. Jim Robson, the former play by play voice of the Canucks for 30 years, presented his all-time Canucks team. Players from way back were combined with more recent Canucks to form the nucleus of the all-Robson team.

All the talk relating to the vast history of the team made me want more and more. I was overcome with "Canucks fever". The only remedy for this condition was to load a tape into the VCR, and watch a vintage Canucks game. The date was November 7, 1970 with Vancouver hosting the Toronto Maple Leafs. It was the Leafs first visit to the Pacific Coliseum for a regular season game. The Canucks were playing their first game at 5:00pm local time. Also, it was "Yukon Night" at the Coliseum. Captain Orland Kurtenbach was presented with a husky dog, and the musical accompaniment provided by the organist was "How much is that dogie in the window".

The Hockey Night In Canada crew was a blend of east and west. The game call was handled by Mr. Robson and he was joined by Jack Dennett. The intermission participants were Ted Reynolds, Babe Pratt and Bill Good. The second intermission highlight was a filmed story on the history of hockey in British Columbia. It was narrated by Dennett and paid tribute to the Patrick brothers - Frank and Lester. Contained within the piece was a fascinating interview with Fred "Cyclone" Taylor.

There was an intriguing match-up in goal with Charlie Hodge of the Canucks facing his former teammate in Montreal, Jacques Plante. This only lasted until the second period when Plante left due to a knee injury.

Coach Hal Laycoe's line-up had a nice mix of rookies and veterans - Andre Boudrias between Rosaire Paiement and Paul Popiel; Orland Kurtenbach between Murrary Hall and Wayne Maki; Mike Corrigan between Danny Johnson and Jim Wiste. Laycoe had forward Ray Cullen playing the point when Vancouver had the man-advantage. Len Lunde helped on the penalty killing unit. Not playing because of injury was Ed Hatoum. The defensive pairings were Dale Tallon and Barry Wilkins; Pat Quinn and Gary Doak; Darryl Sly and Marc Reaume.

All 15,569 in attendance eagerly awaited referee Lloyd Gilmour's drop of the puck to start the game. In the crowd were 55 newspaper carriers from Edmonton who won a subscription contest. A sign in the crowd read "Leafs Must Fall".

The opening goal was scored by the Leafs Jimmy Harrison. Kurtenbach tied it up for Vancouver, but Gary Monahan scored in the final minute, giving Toronto the 2-1 lead going into the first intermission.

The second period was a physical battle with fisticuffs between Leaf Billy MacMillan and Gary Doak. During the same stoppage in play, Rosaire Paiement and Monahan engaged in combat. The hit of the night belonged to Marc Reaume who clocked Toronto winger Guy Trottier with a thunderous open-ice hit. Similar to the previous period, a goal was scored in the final minute of the second frame. Prized rookie, Dale Tallon, scored at 19:14 to even things up at 2-2.

This set the stage for a thrilling third period. A scramble in front of the Leafs net led to the game winning goal by Vancouver. Murray Hall scored on netminder Bruce Gamble when he banged in a rebound off a Kurtenbach shot.

Newspaper headline heralds Canucks victory over the Leafs
The first star of the game was Dale Tallon ("As selected by Hockey Night In Canada"), followed by Orland Kurtenbach and Billy MacMillan. The Canucks performed much better than their expansion counterparts that Saturday evening. In Montreal, the Buffalo Sabres were bombed 11-2 by the Canadiens.

After a good dose of retro Vancouver hockey, my "Canucks Fever" subsided. Hearing those wonderful names from the past being called by Jim Robson could cure any ailment.

Happy 40th, Vancouver Canucks!

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