Posts Tagged ‘Vancouver Millionaires’

Victoria Cougars: the last non-NHL team to win the Stanley Cup

January 29, 2017

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VICTORIA COUGARS: 1925 STANLEY CUP CHAMPIONS

(PHOTO CREDITS: HOCKEY GODS)

In 1925, the Victoria Cougars of the Western Canada Hockey League (WCHL) defeated the Montreal Canadiens of the National Hockey League (NHL) to win the Stanley Cup.  This was the last time that a non-NHL team would win the Stanley Cup.  The Cougars, while playing in the Western Hockey League (WHL) the next year, played in the Stanley Cup but lost to the Montreal Maroons.

The Cougars’ Stanley Cup win in 1925 was also the last time that a team based west of Chicago would win the Stanley Cup until the Edmonton Oilers won the Cup in 1984.

The 1925 Stanley Cup — The 1924-25 season was the eighth season of the NHL. The NHL regular season champion, the Hamilton Tigers, did not participate in the playoffs due to a palyer pay dispute with the teams’ owner. The third seed Montreal Canadiens won a playoff against the second seed Toronto St. Patricks.  In the Stanley Cup, Victoria won the first two games (5-2 and 3-1), Toronto won the third game (4-2) and Victoria won the fourth game (6-1).

The Cougars finished the 1924-25 WCHL season in third place.  However, the Cougars beat the Saskatoon Sheiks in a two-game / total goal series by a combined score of 6-4 and then upset the Calgary Tigers in a two-game / total goal series by a combined score of 3-1 to advance as the WCHL representative to the Stanley Cup playoffs.

All four games of the 1925 Stanley Cup were played on the West Coast.  Games one, three and four were played at the 4,200 seat Patrick Arena in Victoria. Game two was played at the 10,550 seat  Denman Arena in Vancouver.

Cougars goaltender Hap Holmes recorded a 2.0 goal-against average for the series. Jack Walker led Victoria with four goals and Frank Fredrickson scored three goals.  Overall, eight different players combined for the Cougars’ 16 goals.

Victoria players Frank Fredrickson and Haldor Halderson became the first players to win both an Olympic gold medal and the Stanley Cup.  Fredrickson and Halderson had been members of the Winnipeg Falcons, which won the gold medal at the 1920 Olympic games at Antwerp.  (The United States won the silver medal and Czechoslovakia won the bronze medal.)  Other players for the gold medal Falcons were Robert “Bobby” Benson, Jacob Walter “Wally” Byron, Kristmundur “Chris” Fridfinnson, Magnus “Mike” Goodman, Konrad “Konnie” Johannesson and Allen “Huck” Woodman.  The honorary team manager was William Hewitt (inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1947), who was the sports editor of the Montreal Herald and the Toronto Star. The Canadian team beat Czechoslovakia in the quarterfinals (15-0), beat the United States in the semifinals (2-0) and beat Sweden in the finals (12-1).

Robert Lefebvre, in an article published at SB Nation, discussed the innovative coaching of Victoria’s manager, Lester Patrick:

“Montreal, as did most of the NHL teams, still used its six best players for the majority of the game, substituting them as they each tired. Cougars manager Lester Patrick, perhaps hockey’s greatest visionary, employed two lines in constant rotation during games. His reasoning was that even fresh second tier players had more to give energy wise over the course of a game that the tired players the opposition would counter with.”

Source: Robert Lefebvre, 1924-25 NHL Season: The Montreal Forum and Two New Rivalries Are Born (Sept. 22, 2008).

In describing Victoria’s enthusiasm during the 1925 Stanley Cup, an article written for the Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame stated:

“In 1924/25, Victoria fans were in hockey heaven for 10 days. They knew they would be seeing some colorful eastern hockey players like Howie Morenz, Auriel Joliat and Georges Vezina in action against the hometown Cougars. There was a ticket frenzy as fans lined up the night before and by morning a line extended down to Government Street. . . . After referee Mickey Ion blew the final whistle [at the end of game four] there was delirium in the arena. At last the Stanley Cup had come to Victoria.”

Montreal’s Howie Morenz and Georges Vezina were inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1945 and Aurele Joliat was inducted into the Hall in 1947.

The 1926 Stanley Cup — The Montreal Maroons of the NHL beat the defending Stanley Cup Victoria Cougars three games to one in the best of five game series.  Montreal won games one and two (3-0 and 3-0), Victoria won game three (3-2) and Montreal won game four (2-0). All four games were played at Montreal Forum. Montreal’s team featured three future Hockey Hall of Fame players: goaltender Clint Benedict (1965 inductee), Nels Stewart 1952 inductee) and Punch Broadbent (1962 inductee).

The Cougars finished the 1925-26 WHL regular season in third place but eventually upset the Edmonton Eskimos in the WHL championship by a combined score of 5-3 to reach the Stanley Cup Finals. The Maroons finished the NHL regular season in second place but after beating the third seed Pittsburgh Pirates and the first place Ottawa Senators they won the right to play Victoria for the Stanley Cup.

The WHL dissolved after the Cougars were beaten by the Maroons in 1926.  Many of the players from the Cougars relocated to Detroit to play on a new NHL team: the Detroit Cougars. (The Detroit Cougars became the Detroit Falcons in 1930 and became the Detroit Red Wings in 1932.)

After the WHL folded following the 2015-16 season the Stanley Cup was thereafter only played between NHL teams.

1924-25 team members — The members of the 1924-25 Victoria Cougars were John “Jocko” Anderson, Wallace “Wally” Elmer, Frank “The Flash” Foyston (inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1958), Gordon “Gord” Fraser, Sigurour Franklin “Frank” Frederickson (inducted into the Hall in 1958), Haldor (Harold) “Slim” Halderson, Harold “Gizzy” Hart, Harry “Happy” Holmes (the netminder, inducted into the Hall in 1972), Clement “Clem” Loughlin, Harry “Hurricane Howie” Meeking and John “Jack” Walker (inducted into the Hall in 1960). The head coach was Lester “Les, The Silver Fox” Patrick (inducted into the Hall in 1947). The team was inducted into the British Columbia Sports Hall of Fame in 1977.  The team was inducted into the Victoria Sports Hall of Fame in 1997.

1925-26 team members — The members of the 1925-26 Victoria Cougars were Sigurour Frankling “Frank” Fredrickson, John “Jack” Walker, Russell Oatman, Clement “Clem” Loughlin, Harold “Gizzy” Hart, Frank “The Flash” Foyston (inducted into the Hall in 1958), John “Jocko” Anderson, Haldor (Harold) “Slim” Halderson, Harry “Hurricane Howie” Meeking, Gordon “Gord” Fraser and Harry”Happy” Holmes.  The head coach was Lester (Les, The Silver Fox” Patrick.

Lester Patrick coached hockey from 1920-1944.  He was also known as “Hockey’s Silver Fox.” A short biography of Coach Patrick written in a magazine article by Mary Ellen Green stated:

“Born in Drummondville, Que. in 1883, Lester “Silver Fox” Patrick won two Stanley Cups with the Montreal Wanderers before moving to the Kootenays with his family, where he played for Nelson. In 1912, he became the owner, manager and defenceman of the Victoria Senators, which became the Victoria Aristocrats in 1913, before the team was sold to Spokane when the Patrick Arena was taken over by the Canadian military for use during wartime. A new team formed in 1918 and changed its name to the Cougars in 1922. Some of the most notable players to suit up for Victoria included goaltenders Hap Holmes and Hec Fowler, Frank Fredrickson, Harry Meeking, Jack Waler, Clem Loughlin and Frank Foyston. After the  PCHA folded in 1926, Lester moved to the Big Apple to work for the New York Rangers. At the age of 44, he was the oldest goalie to ever play in the Stanley Cup finals when, in 1928 as the general manager and coach of the New York Rangers, he stepped into the game to replace an injured goalie. The Rangers won in overtime.”

Source: Mary Ellen Green, When Victoria won the Stanley Cup (Monday Magazine — March 2o, 2013).

Lester Patrick (1883-1960) was the head coach of the New York Rangers from the 1926-27 season to the 1938-39 season.  The Rangers won the Stanley Cup in 1928 and 1933. His Rangers team lost in the Stanley Cup Finals in 1929, 1932 and 1937.  Lester Patrick’s record with the Rangers was 281-216-107.  He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1947. He won six Stanley Cups as a player, coach and manager. He is buried in Victoria.

Lester Patrick’s brother, Francis “Frank” Patrick (1885-1960) was a professional hockey player and coach. The Patricks have been dubbed as “Hockey’s Royal Family.”  Frank Patrick was induced into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1950 and was inducted into the British Columbia Sports Hall of Fame in 1968.  He coached the Vancouver Millionaires from the 1911-12 season to the 1918-19 season, the Vancouver Maroons during the 1924-25 and 1925-26 seasons, the Vancouver Lions during the 1929-30 season and the Boston Bruins during the 1934-35 and 1935-36 seasons.  The Vancouver Millionaires won the Stanley Cup in 1915. The Millionaires lost in the Stanley Cup Finals in 1918.

Hockey historian Craig H. Bowlsby has written a book titled Empire of Ice: The Rise and Fall of the Pacific Coast Hockey Association, 1911-1926 (2012). The book contains an account of the Victoria Aristocrats’ 1913 World Championship and the Victoria Cougars’ Stanley Cup victory over the Montreal Canadiens.  The book also includes the statistics of every PCHA player and scoring summaries of each year of play.  Mr. Bowlsby book is reviewed by Stephen Thompson in The Georgia Straight (Jan. 17, 2013) and by Joe Pelletier in a blog article titled A History of the Pacific Coast Hockey Association (Jan. 23, 2013).  Accessed at:  http://www.greatesthockeylegends.com/2012/11/a-history-of-pacific-coast-hockey.html.

Mr. Bowlsby is also the author of The History of British Columbia Hockey from 1895 to 1911. The book is reviewed by Wayne Norton in the Autumn 2014 edition of BC Studies — The British Columbian Quarterly.

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LESTER PATRICK — HOCKEY’S SILVER FOX

(PHOTO CREDIT: HOCKEY GODS)