Friday, May 10, 2013

Ottawa vs. Montreal - 1923

Looking back on the Sens-Habs series, which ended last night in Montreal, their tribute performance to the WWE in game three stands out for many who took in the action. However, when it comes to unrest and disorder, this contest couldn't hold a candle to a previous tilt between these two historic franchises.

 Back in 1923, the two rivals met to determine an NHL champion, who would advance to play for the Stanley Cup.

Game one of a two game series, where the number of goals were the deciding factor, was played on March 7, 1923, at Montreal's Mount Royal Arena.

"The game ended in a riot when a spectator started to beat up referee Marsh (Lou) as he came off the ice," began a game story in The Globe. "The police rescued the official and the Ottawa players were escorted to their dressing room. The crowd rushed the ice and minor fights started."

And what caused the Montreal fans to go over the edge? "The crowd first became incensed at the officials when Joliat (of Montreal) drew three minor penalties in the opening twenty minutes of play," noted the story. "From then until the finish it was almost a parade to the penalty box."

A total of 12 penalties wre handed out, with Montreal getting 10 and Ottawa only one.

Aurel Joliat

"Coutu was the worst offender, getting a match foul for deliberately striking Dennenay (of Ottawa)over the head just after the latter had tallied the first goal.

Dennenay's goal came in the second frame.

"Near the close of the match Sprague Cleghorn (of Montreal) attacked Hitchman...which resulted in the Ottawa player leaving the ice with a badly cut head."

These infractions put a huge dent in the Canadiens manpower situation. According to the newspaper account, Montreal played shorthanded for 41 of the 60-minutes of regulation. At times they were either down-one-man, or played 4-against-6, and 3-against-6.

As hostilities exploded after the game, only time would bring the disorder to an end. "Attempts to stop the mix-ups by striking up the National Anthem proved futile and the incipient riot died of its own accord."

Although Montreal won game two on March 9th by a 2-1 score, it was Ottawa who headed west to play for the Stanley Cup. They outscored Montreal 2-0 in game one, and their lone marker in game two gave them the series victory.

After defeating Vancouver in a best-of-five series, Ottawa took on the Edmonton Eskimos for Lord Stanley's mug. The visitors from the east defeated Edmonton in game one of their best-of-three showdown by 2-1 margin. On March 31, 1923, Ottawa were crowned Stanley Cup champs when they downed Edmonton 1-0 in game two.

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