Royal Montreal Hockey Club / Montreal Royals
Memorial Cup Champions 1949
George Richardson Memorial Trophy Champions 1949
Norman Dahl Memorial Trophy
Eric Appleby, Gordon Armstrong, Matthew Benoit, Robert "Bobby" Bleau, Fred "Skippy" Burchell, Mike Darling, Victor Fildes, Robert Frampton, John "Bert" Hirschfeld, Gordon Knutson, Neale Langill, Peter Larocque, Tommy Manastersky, Dickie Moore, William "Bill" Rattay, Donald Rose, Roland "Rolly" Rousseau
Coach - J. T. Millar
Manager - Frank J. Selke
General Manager - Gus Olgilvie
Junior Manager - R. M. Ferguson
President - Ernie Hamilton
Honorary President - Donat Raymond
Director - William Northey
Director - Walter Wells
Trainer - J. Cadger
Montreal won their 1st Memorial Cup, defeating the Brandon Wheat Kings 4 games to 3, with 1 tied game.
All games were held at Shea's Amphitheatre in Winnipeg, Manitoba and the Wheat City Arena in Brandon, Manitoba.
Game 1: Montreal 3-2 Brandon (in Winnipeg)
Game 2: Brandon 3-2 Montreal (in Brandon)
Game 3: Brandon 3-3 Montreal (in Brandon) (tie)
Game 4: Montreal 1-0 Brandon (in Winnipeg)
Game 5: Montreal 7-4 Brandon (in Brandon)
Game 6: Brandon 2-1 Montreal (in Brandon)
Game 7: Brandon 5-1 Montreal (in Brandon)
Game 8: Montreal 6-4 Brandon (in Winnipeg)
The Royals left Montreal on April 26 and headed for Brandon, knowing full well that Quebec had never been home to a Memorial Cup champion. They were only the second Quebec team in 31 years to advance this far.
"We have something the west has yet to see -- a gang of the fightingest, never-say-die bunch of kids that ever came out of Quebec,” Millar said.
Montreal's top line featured Gordie Knutson, Matt Benoit and Moore, who was nicknamed Chirpy. A second line comprised Herschfeld, Neal Langill and Frampton, with Burchell, Gordie Armstrong and Bill Rattray on the third line. Manastersky, Rousseau, Vic Fildes and Lou Appleby patrolled the blue line in front of Bleau.
The Wheat Kings used Crozier, Bill Allison, Chrystal and Johnny McLean on defence. King, Walt Pawlyshyn and Mac Beaton played on one line, with Alf Francis, Jack McKenzie and Sonmor on another. A third line featured Abbott, Brian Roche and Angus Juckes.
The final, a best-of-seven affair, opened on April 28 at the Winnipeg Amphitheatre. When it began, no one could have known that this would turn into one of the great series in hockey playoff history.
The teams would end up playing eight games in what was to have been a best-of-seven series. One game would end in a tie. Four games would be decided by one goal, two by two goals and the other by four.
Some of the games were carried on CBC Radio, with the legendary Foster Hewitt calling the play. Jim Keilback, whose son Curt would later call the play for games involving the NHL's Winnipeg Jets and Phoenix Coyotes, did the same on Brandon radio station CKX.
There were more than 5,000 fans on hand for the opener, won 3-2 by the Royals.
Burchell and Menoit gave Montreal a 2-0 first-period lead, only to have Brandon tie it in the second on goals by Beaton and Juckes.
Montreal won it in the third when Herschfeld's short shot was deflected past Frederick.
This was a grueling, hard-hitting affair that featured 17 minor penalties and a misconduct. The game was delayed for four minutes in the third period when fans littered the ice with peanuts and programs, and one fan was ejected for throwing a bottle onto the ice in reaction to a penalty that was given to Chrystal.
When it was over the Wheat Kings were concerned about the condition of Abbott. He came into the series on a bum knee and then hurt it more when he crashed into the boards. Mike Duban of Portage la Prairie would dress in Abbott's place for the next game.
The series shifted to Brandon for Game 2 on April 30.
Frederick's brilliant goaltending and two goals from McKenzie sparked Brandon to a 3-2 victory before more than 4,700 fans. The loss ended Montreal's winning streak at 14 games.
Benoit and King exchanged first-period goals, and McKenzie and Rousseau did the same in the second period.
That set the stage for McKenzie to win it midway through the third.
"McKenzie slapped Alf Francis' passout into the Montreal cage,” The Canadian Press reported. "Bleau caught a piece of the wobbling shot but couldn't hold it.”
Prior to Game 3, The Canadian Press reported that Abbott's knee was responding to treatment (although he would miss a second straight game) and that "bookies are finding customers hard to locate . . . Bettors on the contest are few and far between . . . They report money sent to Montreal for even-bets was returned without a taker.”
The third game, played in Brandon before more than 4,800 fans, ended in a 3-3 overtime tie.
Montreal led 1-0 after the first period on a goal by Moore. Brandon then scored three straight in the second period -- King, Juckes and Pawlyshyn finding the range -- only to wilt in the third as Montreal tied it on two goals by Knutson.
The overtime period was scoreless.
Each team had 40 shots on goal and both goaltenders, Frederick and Bleau, continued at the top of their games.
Still, Millar wasn't impressed.
"This Brandon club is the luckiest team I've seen,” he said. "One of these days we'll get a break and it will be all over.”
Millar was referring to Brandon's first goal, by King, which hopped over Bleau's stick.
"When we come back from a two-goal deficit we can take these birds,” Fildes said. "It was a moral victory for us as we've seldom had to come from behind.”
MacKenzie, the Brandon coach, offered: "Well, we didn't lose the game. But I hope this thing is soon over; I can't stand much more of it.”
The series returned to Winnipeg for Game 4 on May 5. Abbott was back in the Brandon lineup but it didn't make much difference as the Royals won 1-0 on a second-period goal by Frampton.
More than 5,000 fans enjoyed every minute of this one. It featured numerous end-to-end rushes and, again, superb goaltending.
"Good Lord, are they all going to be like this?” muttered Millar. "I simply can't go through many more of these.”
As Millar talked, strains of ‘Four Leaf Clover’ could be heard coming from the Montreal dressing room as the Royals needled the Wheat Kings.
Game 5 was played in Brandon (Games 5, 6 and 7 would be played in Brandon) before more than 4,700 fans, many of them in shirtsleeves as temperatures on May 7 climbed to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
For the fifth straight game the Royals scored first. Then they went on to a 7-4 victory and a seemingly commanding series lead.
Knutson and Frampton each scored twice for Montreal, which held period leads of 1-0 and 4-2. Langill, Herschfeld and Moore added one each. King, with two, Beaton and Abbott replied for Brandon.
One of King's goals came on a penalty shot that was awarded after Bleau was given a major for getting involved in a fight inside the Montreal blue line.
"Well, that's better,” Millar said. "Now we're playing hockey.”
King begged to differ.
"We're not beat yet,” he said.
He was right.
Brandon rebounded with a 2-1 victory before more than 4,800 howling fans on May 10.
Juckes opened the scoring at 3:30 of the first period -- the first time in the series Brandon had scored first -- only to have Rattray tie it 1:20 later.
King scored what proved to be the winning goal at 6:25 of the second period.
The star, however, was Frederick. He kicked out 37 shots, seven of them in the game's final two minutes.
There was some excitement in the second period when a couple of fights broke out on the ice and Knutson became involved with a fan near the penalty box. Police arrived, escorted the fan from the premises and peace prevailed.
"Now we're playing hockey and it's about time,” King said.
As for Sonmor, well, he gave all the credit to his having changed numbers -- from 16 to 9. "It's the sweater that did it,” he said.
"We weren't skating and that's the only answer,” Millar stated.
Prior to Game 7, the scalpers were having a field day -- asking $5 for tickets originally priced at $1.75 and $2.
And, on May 12, Brandon forced an eighth game with an amazing 5-1 victory in Game 7 before more than 4,800 fans.
King again led Brandon, this time with a goal and two assists. Francis, Crozier, Abbott and Beaton also scored. Langill scored for Montreal.
Francis scored the lone goal of the first period and Crozier upped Brandon's lead to 2-0 at 10:40 of the second. But Langill's goal at 11:34 of the second period got Montreal back into the game.
However, Brandon struck for three goals in less than three minutes midway in the third to put it away.
"The boys did a wonderful job,” MacKenzie said. "I'm proud of them. We've got 10 first-year juniors on our club and they deserve a world of credit.”
And the series headed for Winnipeg -- the deciding game would be played on neutral ice.
"Well, we've beaten them twice on Winnipeg ice and we can do it again,” Rattray said.
This was the first Memorial Cup final to go eight games. And it would end on May 16, the latest date for a champion to be crowned to that point in time.
And if the teams were to play to a tie -- through three regulation periods and three 10-minute overtime periods -- a ninth game was scheduled for May 18.
But a ninth game wasn't needed.
Brandon led 4-2 three minutes into the third period but couldn't hang on. Montreal scored the game's last four goals and won 6-4 before more than 5,000 fans.
Quebec had its first Memorial Cup champion in the 31 years the trophy had been contested.
Herschfeld scored three times for Montreal, with Frampton adding two and Knutson one. Crozier, Chrystal, McKenzie and Abbott replied for Brandon.
Frampton and Herschfeld gave the Royals a 2-0 lead by the 12:14-mark of the first period. Crozier narrowed the gap before the period ended.
Chrystal tied it at 13:43 of the second and McKenzie put Brandon out front at 14:13. Abbott gave the Wheaties a 4-2 lead at 2:20 of the third.
But that's when Montreal exploded. Knutson scored at 3:53, Herschfeld tied it at 8:29 and Frampton got what proved to be the winner at 11:13.
"Son of a gun! What do you know? This is what we've been dreaming about for years,” yelled Moore as he hoisted the trophy in the Montreal dressing room.
Millar added: "It was a great series and, boy, am I glad we won. And we won from a great club, too. That's all the comment you need from me.”