Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Forty-Five and Counting

The headline beneath a photo on the front page of the May 3, 1967, Globe and Mail read, "Leafs Defeat Canadiens to win Stanley Cup."

It would be the last time Toronto fans experienced the thrill of rejoicing in a Stanley Cup championship.

On the evening of May 2, 1967, the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Montreal Canadiens 3 to 1, thus winning the Final  four-games to two.

Most of us are aware of Toronto's victory in Maple Leaf Gardens during Canada's centennial year, but how many can recall the last major championship to be won in the historic arena, prior to the Leafs in '67?

In May 1966, the Edmonton Oil Kings and Oshawa Generals took to the Gardens ice to battle for the Memorial Cup championship.

The Oshawa Generals, with Bobby Orr patrolling all zones on the ice, reached the Final by defeating the Shawinigan Bruins and North Bay Trappers. The Edmonton Oil Kings eliminated the Estevan Bruins in the Western Final.

Coached by Bep Guidolin, Oshawa were favoured to capture the Memorial Cup, with a line-up which included Orr, Bill Heindl, Danny O'Shea, Wayne Cashman, Nick Beverly, Bill Wilkins and Ian Young. Orr, who was already under the hockey spotlight for his brilliant play, suffered an injury in game one of the Final. The future Hall of Famer could control the pace of a contest on both defence and offence, thus making his injury a major concern for Oshawa.

L to R - Danny O'Shea, Ian Young, Bobby Orr
With Orr hampered by a groin problem, the Oil Kings were ready to take advantage.

Their roster included Garnet Bailey, Al Hamilton and Bob Falkenberg. On loan from the Estevan Bruins were Jim Harrison, Al Lonsberry and Ted Hodgson.

The Oil Kings took the series in six games, capturing the Memorial Cup on May 15, 1966, before 5,018 spectators in Maple Leaf Gardens. They defeated the Generals by a score of 2 to 1.

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