Monday, January 10, 2011
It was on this date in 1920 that the Montreal Canadiens hosted the Toronto St. Patricks in the first game ever played at the Mount Royal Arena. Construction of the arena was not actually fully completed in time for the game that evening, which caused 1,000 fans to be turned away due to a lack of seating.
The Mount Royal Arena
The arena could hold 6,000 seated fans and another 4,000 standing room patrons. When the Canadiens previous home, the Jubilee Arena, burned down in the summer of 1919, The Mount Royal Arena was hastily constructed and a week after it's opening, parts of a balcony broke prior to a game with the Ottawa Senators causing the Montreal police to limit ticket sales to 6,500.
The arena suffered from not having any mechanical means of ice making and eventually the Canadiens moved to their new home, the Montreal Forum in 1926. The Mount Royal Arena became an auditorium following the departure of the Canadiens and later into a commercial building, which stood for 80 years until it too was destroyed by fire on February 29, 2000.
The 1919-20 Montreal Canadiens
When the fans of the Canadiens entered the brand new arena for the first time in 1920, they were aware that they were there to witness a bit of history with the first game at the new rink, but little did they realize a larger piece of hockey history which would unfold that evening.
The Canadiens entered the game with a 1-3 record, having scored just four goals in their previous three games, one of which was moved from Montreal to Ottawa when the Mount Royal Arena was not ready in time to begin the season. In fact, that night's eventual opening game against the St. Patricks had already been delayed twice due to not having adequate ice.
Didier Pitre opened the scoring with his first goal of the season at exactly 4:00. Newsy Lalonde struck next for Montreal exactly one minute later before adding his seventh goal of the season two minutes after his sixth.
It was Pitre's turn again to put a puck behind the St. Patricks goaltender Ivan "Mike" Mitchell just 40 seconds after Lalonde's second goal.
At the nine minute mark, Pitre completed his hat trick, chasing Mitchell from the Toronto net for good.
Billy Coutu welcomed the new St. Patricks goalie Howard Lockhart to the game with his first goal of the season at 13:30 before Odie Cleghorn extended the Canadiens lead to 7-0 at the 16 minute mark. Mickey Roach got the St. Patricks on the board with the first puck to get by Georges Vezina in goal for Montreal at 16:50. The period ended without any further scoring, leaving the Canadiens with a six goal lead after just 20 minutes of play.
Montreal's Cleghorn got the second period scoring underway four minutes in, his second of the game, followed by Lalonde completing his hat trick a minute and a half later. The St. Patricks fought back with two goals in a minute, Reg Noble scoring at 6:20 and Corbett Denneny at 7:20 to cut the Montreal lead back to 9-3.
Lalonde continued his dominant performance with back to back goals, his fourth and fifth of the game, at 9:00 and 10:30 to push Montreal into double digits on the scoreboard, now at 11.
Toronto closed out the second period scoring when Denneny got his second of the period past Vezina at the 11 minute mark, meaning the two clubs actually went nine full minutes without a goal during the second half of the period!
Cully Wilson got the scoreboard spinning once more just 30 seconds into the third period followed by Bert Corbeau joining the ranks of goal scorers on the night at 1:50.
The star of the evening Lalonde then established an NHL record with his sixth goal of the game 3:50. The St. Patricks Noble scored a pair of goals at 9:50 and 12:20 to join the parade of hat tricks and finally, even mercifully, the Canadiens Cleghorn closed out the scoring when he became the fourth player of the game to register a hat trick with his third goal of the game at 14:50, the ninth of the game against Lockhart, who took the loss.
Vezina got the win in the net for Montreal despite giving up seven goals.
The final score of 14-7 on the memorable opening night of the Mount Royal Arena set an NHL record of 21 combined goals which still stands today. Imagine the reaction of the 1,000 fans who were turned away when they learned of Lalonde's record performance and the new league mark for the greatest number of goals in a game!
It would take the high flying Edmonton Oilers of the 1980's to tie the record 65 years later when they defeated the Chicago Black Hawks 12-9 on December 11, 1985.
Today's featured jersey is a 1918-19 Montreal Canadiens Newsy Lalonde jersey. Lalonde would finish the season with 37 goals in 23 games. He added nine assists for 46 points to come second in the scoring race to Quebec's Joe Malone and his 39 goals and 49 points.
The Canadiens first red sweater with a blue chest stripe appeared in 1912-13 and featured just a "C" in white and was worn only against the Ottawa Senators due to the similarity between the Canadiens striped jerseys and the Senators red, black and white barberpole jerseys.
In 1913 a letter was added inside the "C", but not the familiar "H", but an "A". which would remain in use through 1916.
The "H" would appear for the first time in 1916-17. The logo then went through several subtle color and outline changes, including a red "CH" combination for 1919-20. Photos of the all red Canadiens "CH" logo from the year they helped set the single game scoring record are nearly impossible to find, and only the team collage photo above could be found after an extensive search.
The style of jersey featured today from the 1918-19 season concluded with the Canadiens competing for the rights to the 1919 Stanley Cup against the Seattle Metropolitans. The series was suspended after five games due to the Spanish Flu epidemic, which caused the remainder of the series to be cancelled and sent Lalonde, Coutu, Louis Berlinguette, Jack McDonald, Joe Hall and their manager George Kennedy to the hospital, with Hall dying of pneumonia five days later. Lalonde would fully recover and return to the Canadiens for the following season.
Today's video section shows Lalonde being honored in his hometown in Cornwall, Ontario with the naming of "Newsy Lalonde Way".