Thursday, March 3, 2011
Born in Montreal in 1898, Joe Ironstone grew up in northern Ontario and began his playing career with the Sudbury Wolves of the Northern Ontario Hockey League (NOHA) in the 1921-22 season, winning 3 and losing 2 in the 6 games in which he played before moving to the Sudbury Legionnaires, where he won 3 out of 3 starts during the regular season prior to going 0-1-1 in a pair of playoff games.
Back with the Wolves for 1922-23, Ironstone went 4-4 in eight games. Records show he was with the Wolves again in 1923-24, but no statistics are shown across multiple sources, perhaps indicating he did not play, perhaps due to an injury. He was signed by the powerful Ottawa Senators of the NHL in 1924-25, but saw no playing time as a backup to Alex Connell, who played in all 30 of the Senators games.
Ironstone became a member of the New York Americans during their debut season and was again a backup goaltender, this time to Jake Forbes. While Forbes played in all 36 of the games on the Americans schedule, Ironstone was able to make his NHL debut with two periods of relief work.
Having played as little as 40 minutes over the previous three seasons, Ironstone was likely more than happy to find himself a member of the Niagara Falls Cataracts (with "cataract" meaning "a large or high waterfall") where he played 23 games in the Canadian Professional Hockey League (CPHL).
He had a busy season in 1927-28, with 14 more games with Niagara Falls. After going 3-6-5, Ironstone he became a member of the Toronto Ravinas of the same league when he was sold by the Cataracts. In 26 games he posted a winning record of 13-10-3 to help the Ravinas get into the playoffs.
It was also during this season that Ironstone played in one game for the Toronto Maple Leafs against the Boston Bruins on this date in 1928 as an injury replacement for goaltender John Roach. Ironstone played well and held the Bruins off the scoreboard for the entire game, earning his only NHL shutout. He was denied the win however, when Boston's Hal Winkler matched him save for save for his 12th shutout of the season as the game ended in a scoreless tie.
The next club to employ Ironstone's services was the London Panthers, for whom he played a career high 42 games on his way to a 16-22-3 record. The 1929-30 season saw Ironstone split time between London, who switched from the CPHL to the International Hockey League (IHL). After 10 games, he was back in the CPHL with the Kitchener Flying Dutchmen, with whom he won 7 and lost 8 games.
Seemingly always on the move, the 1930-31 season was divided between the Marquette Iron Rangers of the Northern Michigan Hockey League, the Guelph Maple Leafs of the Ontario Professional Hockey League and the Syracuse Stars of the IHL.
He did not play the next two seasons, but returned to the ice with the Sudbury Legion once again for the 1933-34 and 1934-35 seasons. His final season in hockey was spent with the Falconbridge Falcons of the NOHA, with whom he completed for the Allan Cup, and also make one appearance for his original team, the Sudbury Wolves, bringing his career full circle.
Ironstone's career NHL stats are the unusual line of 0-0-1 with 1 shutout. He allowed 3 goals during his relief effort in two periods in New York, and combined with his shutout in Toronto, his final goals against average stands at 1.64.
Today's featured jersey is a 1927-28 Toronto Maple Leafs Joe Ironstone jersey from his only appearance for the Maple Leafs, which resulted in a scoreless tie.
The Toronto St. Patricks had only been renamed the Maple Leafs during the previous season when the club was purchased by Conn Smythe. At the time, they changed from the St. Pats green sweaters with a white band across the chest to a plain white sweater with a green maple leaf logo on the chest. For the 1927-28 season, the club changed colors back to blue and white, as they wore during their first two seasons while they were known as the Toronto Arenas.
The simple, stripeless white sweater, worn for games against the New York Rangers, now had a blue maple leaf crest on the front. Their primary jersey was now an attractive blue jersey with multiple arm and body stripes done in the art deco style of the times.
This exact style would remain in use three seasons until a another white stripe was added across the top of the shoulders. That version of this jersey would be used through the 1933-34 season when a reversal of course was taken and the stripes were reduced to a simple pair of narrow white stripes on the arms and waist and a new, simpler leaf crest was introduced, which is nearly identical to the one the Maple Leafs now use today, 75 years later.