Friday, October 7, 2011

Bring in the New!

Last night, the National Hockey League rung in the new season with a trio of games on the docket.

The Boston Bruins continued their Stanley Cup celebrations, then played host to the Flyers. Playing the role of party spoilers, Philadelphia squeaked out a 2-1 decision over Boston.

Out west, Stanley Cup finalists, Vancouver, battled the Pittsburgh Penguins. Trailing in the third period, the Canucks drew even with Pittsburgh, but fell in the shootout.

At the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, the Maple Leafs and Canadiens added another chapter to their historic rivalry. The Leafs, hoping for a quick start to begin the season, shutout Montreal 2-0 with James Reimer blocking all shots directed at the Leaf goal.

The stage was set for Maple Leaf fans to party prior to the home opener
The event was held in Maple Leaf Square beside the ACC
The huge outdoor screen showed Leaf highlights
A popular attraction was the Leafs mobile truck which showed the history of the Leaf jersey
The 1967 sweater which serves as the third jersey in 2011-12

In 1942, Montreal and Toronto helped open the initial campaign of the Original Six era.

On the evening of October 31, 1942 Toronto and the New York Rangers met in Maple Leaf Gardens. While fans looked forward to a new hockey season, they couldn't be blamed if their attention was elsewhere.

The headlines in papers across the country kept them aware of events relating to fighting taking place in World War Two. This situation dominated the news. As the Leafs and Rangers were about to collide, troops in Egypt were in a struggle with their German counterparts.

Hockey was not immune when it came to supplying men for active duty. With a number of regular players in the service, roster positions were being filled by new faces.

For their opening contest in Toronto, New York's squad included a complete line composed of new youngsters. This combination included two 19 year-old players, Bill Goode and Lin Bend. The final spot was secured by 18 year-old Joe Bell. All three were members of the Memorial Cup champion  Portage La Prairie Terriers.

In goal, the Rangers went with rookie Steve Buzinski. He was signed by the Rangers as a replacement for Sugar Jim Henry who was on active duty.

Toronto, who were defending Stanley Cup champs, struck early against Buzinski. By the end of period one, the Leafs held a 3-0 advantage. Following the second period, New York trailed by a score of 4-2. The Leafs added 3 more tallies in the final frame and coasted to a 7-2 victory. 

The Leafs young players made a major contribution to the winning effort. Gaye Stewart, Dud Poile and Shep Mayer combined for 3 goals and 4 assists.

In Montreal, there was a similar story. Between the Habs and Bruins, four players were making their first appearance in the National Hockey League. New to the Bruins roster were Bill Shill, Don Gallinger and Jack Schmidt.

Although there was only one rookie to crack the Canadiens line-up, he turned out to be a significant find. The player in question was Maurice "Rocket" Richard. And it didn't take him long to become involved in the scoring. The first goal was scored in the first-minute of play by Tony Demers. Assisting on the goal was Richard.

The Bruins and Canadiens entered period two knotted at a goal apiece. Montreal took over in the second period building-up a 3-1 lead. The Habs limited Boston to one goal in the third, thus winning the contest 3-2.

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