Tuesday, December 17, 2013
On this date in 1924 goaltenders Jake Forbes of the Hamilton Tigers and Alex Connell of the Ottawa Sentators battled to the first scoreless tie in NHL history, which came in the eighth season of the NHL.
Forbes had begun his NHL career in 1919 with the Toronto St. Pats with five games in his first season. Forbes played in 20 the following year, going 13-7 and when he refused to accept Toronto's contract offer for 1921-22, he was suspended for the the entire season, missing out on the St. Pats Stanley Cup championship, and was later sold to the Hamilton Tigers.
Forbes played three seasons in Hamilton, improving from 6 wins to 9 and finally 19 to lead the league in wins during the Tigers final season. For 1925-26, the Hamilton franchise was purchased by the New York Americans and Forbes played two and a half seasons with the Americans before being loaned to the Providence Reds and later the Niagara Falls Cataracts.
He would spend the next eight years divided between the Canadian-American Hockey League (with New Haven, Springfield and the Bronx) and the International Hockey League (with Windsor, Syracuse, London and Rochester) with occasional fill in duty with the Americans (9 games over four seasons) and the Philadelphia Quakers for two games in 1930-31.
For the rookie Connell, the scoreless tie against Hamilton was the first shutout of his career. After playing five seasons in the Ottawa City Hockey League, Connell was signed by the Senators of the NHL for the 1924-25 season. He would appear in 30 games his first season and post seven shutouts in all. The following season of 1925-26, Connell won 24 games in 36 stars, with 15 shutouts, a career high. In 1926-27, Connell won 30 games, 13 by shutout, in 44 appearances. The Senators would defeat the Montreal Canadiens and then defeat the Boston Bruins in their best-of-five series by the unusual line of 2 wins, no losses and a pair of ties earning Connell his first Stanley Cup.
Ottawa Senator Alex Connell
During the 1927-28 season, Connell set the NHL record for the longest shutout streak of 461:29 by recording six consecutive shutouts. The streak began on January 28th when he held the Montreal Canadiens to single goal in a 2-1 Senators win. The Toronto Maple Leafs then fell 4-0 to Connell and the Senators, who then prevailed 1-0 in overtime over the Montreal Maroons. The New York Rangers battled the Senators to a pair of scoreless ties on February 7th and 9th and the Senators offense again failed to support Connell on the 16th when they tied the Pittsburgh Pirates 0-0. The Canadiens failed to solve Connell while the Senators managed to find the net for the first time in four games to secure a 1-0 win. The streak ended when during Ottawa's 3-2 win over the Chicago Black Hawks on February 22nd. During the final five games of the six consecutive shutouts, the Senators only managed two goals themselves. Connell would finish the season by matching his career high of 15 shutouts.
At least he thought his season was finished. While watching Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals between the Maroons and the Rangers, Lorne Chabot of New York was injured and Rangers coach Lester Patrick wanted Connell to come out of the stands to replace Chabot. The Maroons coach Eddie Gerard refused to grant permission for Connell to play, forcing Patrick to famously man the crease himself.
Connell played three more seasons with the Senators prior to being loaned to the Detroit Falcons for the 1931-32 season, as the Senators franchise did not play that season due to financial difficulties. Connell rejoined the Senators for 1932-33 and was named team captain, but would only see action in 15 games compared to the 48 he played for the Falcons the previous season and he retired for the first time at the end of the year.
Alex Connell during his one season with the Detroit Falcons
In 1933-34, the "retired" Connell did see action in a single game when he was loaned to the New York Americans as an injury replacement. He was given a new life for 1934-35 when he was traded to the Maroons and played in 48 games, winning 24, the second highest total of his career. The Maroons then defeated the Chicago Black Hawks one goal to none in their two-game, total-goal quarterfinal series. The Rangers then fell five goals to four to advance the Maroons to the Stanley Cup Finals. Connell and the Maroons then swept the Maple Leafs in three straight games to win the second Stanley Cup of Connell's career.
Stanley Cup champion Alex Connell of the Montreal Maroons
He retired again following the Maroons championship season and was out of hockey for a year but returned to the ice once again to play the 1936-37 season with the Maroons before finally retiring for good this time.
His final totals were 417 games played with a record of 193-156-67 with 81 shutouts and an impressive career goals against average of just 1.91.
Connell was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1958.
Today's featured jersey is a 1930-31 Ottawa Senators Alex Connell jersey. The Senators familiar barberpole style jerseys underwent a change in in 1929 with the addition of the "O" crest for the first time. The next season the shoulder yoke would be white for just the one season before the struggling Senators sat out the 1931-32 season. When they returned to the NHL, they reverted to the previous style where the stripes repeated all the way to the top of the jerseys for their final two seasons in Ottawa before relocating to St. Louis in 1934-35.