September 16, 2015

Looking At The NHL's First Games

Yesterday we looked at NHL plans to commemorate the 100th anniversary of opening night in NHL history - December 19th, 1917.

Let's take a closer look at the two games played on that night.

Habs Down Ottawas

On that night the visiting Montreal Canadiens downed the Ottawa Senators 7 to 4. The Habs great goal scorer Joe Malone scored five goals (and added an assist). He scored the first goal in Montreal Canadiens NHL history (remember, the Montreal Canadiens pre-date the NHL) and score the first hat trick in NHL history.

The game was played at The Arena, also known as Dey's Arena, home of the Senators from 1909 through 1923. The reported attendance for the game was 6,000, though normal seating capacity was 4,500.

The game was a virtual who's who of hockey history.

Playing for Montreal was Georges Vezina in net, with Malone, Newsy Lalonde, Didier Pitre, Bad Joe Hall and Bert Corbeau as starters. Subs included Jack Laviolette, Louis Berlinquette and Billy Coutu.

Ottawa featured the great Clint Benedict in net, with Rusty Crawford and Eddie Gerard on defense and Cy Denneny, Georges Boucher and Eddie Lowrey up front. Subs included Morley Bruce, Jack Darragh and Hamby Shore.

Shore and Darragh did not start the game due to a salary dispute. Apparently they and the Senators came to a resolution by the second period as both suited up and entered the game.

The ice was said to be "sticky" by newspaper reports, favoring the hard hitting Canadiens rather than the usually speedy Senators in a cleanly played affair.

Wanderers Defeat Torontos

Also playing that night were the soon-to-be defunct Montreal Wanderers who downed the visiting Toronto Arenas 10-9 in Montreal. Wanderers' defenseman Dave Ritchie scored the first goal in NHL history. Montreal's Harry Hyland (5 goals) and Toronto's Reg Noble (4 goals) equaled Malone's first night hat trick.

Only 700 fans were in attendance to witness this game. This despite military men and their families were invited to the game for free of charge.

The Wanderers had Ted Lindsay's father Bert Lindsay in net, with Ritchie and Phil Stevens on defense and Hyland, Billy Bell and Jack MacDonald up front. Subbing on this night were Jack macDonald, Gerry Geran and George O'Grady.

Toronto had Sammy Hebert in net with Ken Randall and Harry Cameron on the back end and Noble, Corb Denneny, and Alf Skinner. Harry Meeking, Jack Coughlin and Arthur Brooks subbed.

Brooks actually relieved Herbert in nets during the game, becoming the first relief goaltender in NHL history.

Toronto was obviously not happy with either goalie. They signed Harry "Hap" Holmes soon after the game.

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