September 19, 2015

Red Almas

The Detroit Red Wings ran into a lot of injury problems at the worst possible time in 1947.

As the playoffs neared, the Wings were without prized rookie Gordie Howe, out with a shoulder injury though he would return for the playoffs. More imperative, they lost their star goalie Harry Lumley due to a recurrence of a troublesome groin injury.

The Wings summoned red-headed Ralph Almas from the Indianapolis Capitals. The Saskatoon product had posted a strong 33-18-13 record in the AHL, but he was a complete NHL rookie.

Almas played the last game of the regular season with the Wings, dropping a 5-3 decision to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Wings and Leafs met days later in round one of the playoffs, but without Lumley they had little chance. Almas played admirably in four of the five games, winning one and posting a reasonable 2.97 goals against average. Johnny Mowers played one game as well, but he wasn't able to change the Red Wings fate that season. The powerful Leafs bulldozed over the Wings and would go on to win the Stanley Cup.

Almas would return to the minor leagues where he was a workhorse goalie through 1954. He got into two more NHL games - one as an injury replacement for Terry Sawchuk with the Wings, and one more game as a member of the Chicago Blackhawks.

Red Almas goes down as a rare player who played more NHL games in the Stanley Cup playoffs than in the regular season.

Almas later returned to Regina and worked for a mechanical contractor. He passed away in 2001, at the age of 77, after a battle with cancer.

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