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PRO HOCKEY’S GOLDEN ERA

Leader Post
May 15, 1955. p.31

Professional hockey’s stay in Saskatchewan did not total 10 years, but in at least two, and possibly three, of those years, westerners enjoyed a brand of hockey that the oldtime followers still rave about. The golden era was the early 1920’s.

Dick Irvin, George Hay, Bill Cook, Herb Gardiner, Red Dutton, Rusty Crawford, Eddie Oatman, Bill Binney, Barney Stanley, Duke Keats, Art Gagne, Newsie Lalonde, Joe Matte, Bob Trapp, Charlie Reid, Harry Oliver, Ty and Jack Arbor, Bullet Joe Simpson, Abbie Newell, Helgie Bostrom, Bobby Benson, Baldy Winkler ... all the greats in hockey played some of their finest games in Regina, Saskatoon, Edmonton and Calgary.

Pro hockey made its debut in Regina in the 1921-22 season. It was undoubtedly the best year. The late West Champ’s Caps roared into Stanley Cup semi-finals and came within a game of competing for pro hockey’s biggest prize.

It was a lineup gathered from senior ranks, the bulwark from Regina Vics and Moose Jaw Maple Leafs of the previous season. Bill Laird was in goal. Others included Percy (Puss) Trab, Amby Moran, Irvin (who came form Winnipeg), Freddie Wilson, Hay, Spunk Sparrow, Carl Battell, Ernie Anderson, Charlie McVeigh and Bill Adams.

Adams’ brother Jack, was the big gun of Vancouver Maroons in that day and today is general manager of Detroit Red Wings.

In the first year, Caps won 17 and tied three of 30 games to finish first. They went on to defeat Edmonton Eskimos, 3-2, in a memorable total-goal-series to qualify to meet Vancouver in the Stanley Cup semi-final. Eskimos’ lineup included the great Duke Keats, Bill Tobin, Simpson and Gagne.

Caps defeated Maroons 2-1 at the coast but, at the stadium in Regina, dropped a 4-0 decision when Art Duncan scored three times before almost 7,000 fans and Lloyd Cook added another. The game was played with abut an inch of water covering the ice surface.

In the five-game series for the Stanley Cup, Vancouver lost the deciding game 5-1 to Toronto St. Patrick’s as the Great Babe Dye scored four of the goals.

The following year the four prairie teams played interlocking games with three coast teams--Seattle Mets, Vancouver and Lester/Patricks’s Victoria Cougars. In the 1923-24 season, however, Seattle, dropped out.

In 1923, Champ obtained Barney Stanley as coach of the Caps but the team was rocked by dissension and Sparrow was suspended by the owner midway in the season. Regina finished second that year, behind Edmonton, and bowed to Eskimos in the playoffs.

Fans still recall that great play-off. Esks won the first 1-0 when Gagne scored from Keats at Edmonton. At Regina, however, Caps won 3-2 in regulation time but after 30 minutes of gruelling overtime, Keats sidelined Regina on a penalty shot awarded when Traub toppled Ty Arbour at the goalmouth.

In the Stanley Cup final that year Ottawa defeated Esks 1-0 and 2-1.

Calgary’s Tigers prevented Caps from moving out of the league in 1924. Regina’s team had Red McCusker, Abbie Newell, Laudus (Duke) Dutkowski, Traub, Irvin, Hay, Stanley, McVeigh, Davey Davison and Gagne (who came from Edmonton) in the lineup.

Tigers won the west final by two goals. The first game ended in a 2-2 deadlock and goals by Cully Wilson and Crawford provided a 2-0 win in the second match.

The 1925 playoffs saw Saskatchewan’s two entries, Saskatoon, and Regina, beaten by Victoria and Calgary, respectively, in the semi-finals. Lester Patrick’s Cougars later went on to defeat Montreal 3-1 for the Stanley Cup. Gizzy Hart of Weyburn was a star with Victoria.

McCusker, Newell, Shore, Gagne, Dutkowski, Hay Irvin, McVeigh, Loughlin and Morris were in the lineup for Regina.

Regina bowed out of the pro picture in 1926 with Portland, Ore., picking up the franchise. In 1927-28, the three-team Prairie league was formed. It was an all-Saskatchewan affair featuring Regina, Saskatoon and Moose Jaw, but lasted only one season.

Regina’s only other pro appearance was in 1933 when Kenny McKenzie, former Edmonton Esk manager, who today operates at New Westminster, brought in a team. It lasted only half a season.