try a back somersault

The Toronto St. Patricks went into Boston in December of 1926 and came away with a 5-3 win and a collection of souvenirs despite one of their own players, Happy Day, scoring a goal on his own net. As a newspaperman watching the game told it: “As mementoes the St. Pats took home 63 pennies, one hard boiled egg and a monkey wrench.”

The St. Pats weren’t very good that year, so from a Boston perspective, the loss counted as a surprise. Not to deprive Toronto of any due on the day: John J. Hallahan of the The Boston Daily Globe wrote that the Bruins were “soundly beaten,” thanks in large part to forward Bill Carson and “the herculean performance” of goaltender John Ross Roach, who stopped 73 of Boston’s shots.

The crowd at the Boston Arena was the smallest of the season so far. Though not, perhaps, the calmest. In the third period Boston’s Carson Cooper took a long shot, which Roach stopped. The rebound fell to Percy Galbraith of the Bruins, who scored  — only to have referee Dr. Eddie O’Leary call it back for offside.

I don’t know the order of what happened next. Did the fans throw their pennies first or was it Boston’s captain Sprague Cleghorn who started it with a punch? He did that: “again displayed his fighting qualities, punching Bill Bailey of the visitors with a left-hand drive.” Eddie Shore — he was there, too — dropped his gloves, then, and the game looked to John Hallahan like it might be over. Though it was only stalled. Cleghorn went to the penalty box — for two minutes. It was ten minutes before the rink attendants got the ice cleared.

The Bruins travelled to Montreal to play their next game, wherein they beat the Maroons, 2-1. Meanwhile, back at home, people were speaking up. The Globe’s John Hallahan was one, decrying “certain players on the Bruins squad who seem to delight in being unnecessarily rough in their efforts to win. Such tactics hurt the game. Hockey, seemingly, has developed into a series of brawls.”

If referees weren’t willing to penalize those players who lost their heads, well, “others should take their place on the ice — men who have backbone.”

Fans should shape up, he said, citing both the St. Pats crowd and those attending a recent Can-Am League game between the Boston Tigers and Quebec, where a chair ended up on the ice:

Boohing [sic] and the like is all right, but throwing of things because something has gone against a favourite is something that must be stopped.

Before the year was out, Boston came home again to host the New York Americans. As the fans filed in to take their seats, ushers handed them small white cards bearing a request from Bruins’ president Charles Adams asking them to keep their pennies, groceries, and tools to themselves.

Hockey players in the heat of the game [he advised] may be excused for occasional loss of self-control, but the fan is not so readily forgiven. If you must throw anything during your excitement, try a back somersault.