Tuesday, April 6, 2010
On this date in 1926, the Montreal Maroons, behind the goaltending of Clint Benedict, shut out the Victoria Cougars 2-0 to win their first Stanley Cup championship.
The Maroons were only playing in their second ever season, having been formed in 1924 and were the team of choice for Montreal's English speaking population.
After a rough first season in which the club went 9-19-2, finishing only ahead of fellow first year team the Boston Bruins.
The addition of leading scorer Nels Stewart, whose 42 points in 36 games led the NHL in scoring, and Babe Siebert (24 points) helped transform the Maroons into a serious contender, as their record improved to 20-11-5, good for second overall in the regular season. The Maroons improved from finishing last in goal scoring their first year with 45, to placing second in the league, just one behind the Bruins and Toronto St. Patricks with 91.
In the first round of the playoffs, the Maroons, captained by Dunc Munro, defeated the third place Pittsburgh Pirates 3-1 and then tied them 3-3 to win their series 6 goals to 4. They advanced to face the first place Ottawa Senators, the club that had dealt Benedict and forward Punch Broadbent to the Maroons in 1924. In a close fought series, the Maroons and Senators skated to a 1-1 tie in the opening game before Benedict shout out Ottawa in Game 2 1-0 to win the O'Brien Trophy as winners of the NHL playoffs to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals.
Their opponents in the finals were the defending Stanley Cup champion Victoria Cougars and winners of the Western Hockey League playoffs. The best-of-five series was played entirely at the Montreal Forum.
Game 1 went the way of the Maroons, as they shut out the Cougars by a score of 3-0. Another 3-0 shutout for Montreal followed in Game 2 as the Maroons went up 2 games to none.
Victoria held off elimination by winning Game 3 with a 3-2 victory but Benedict recorded his third shutout of the series to clinch the Stanley Cup with a 2-0 blanking of the Cougars as the Maroons won the series 3 games to 1. Stewart scored six of Montreal's ten goals in the four game series.
The Stanley Cup Champion 1925-26 Montreal Maroons
The Maroons would play for 14 seasons before succumbing to the financial difficulties of the depression and competing against the Canadiens in the predominantly French Montreal after the 1937-38 season, but not before winning another Stanley Cup in 1935.
Today's featured jersey is a 1925-26 Montreal Maroons Nels Stewart jersey. During their first season the Maroons wore simple sweaters that read "Montreal" on the front, but changed to the block letter "M" with additional striping for the 1925-26 season. These sweaters would remain in use through 1928-29 when the Maroons more than doubled the number of stripes on the sleeves from the classy four to a dizzying nine as well as adding a third waist stripe.
Today's video is a look at the evolution of hockey in Canada and features Clint Benedict wearing the first mask worn by a goaltender in an NHL game. We're curious to know what you think of the video, with it's collection of vintage photographs but choice of modern music for the soundtrack.