Members of the New York Rangers are posing with the Stanley Cup, which they won by defeating the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-2 in Toronto, on April 13, 1940. Standing in the center is Rangers coach and manager Lester Patrick, in front of him is Frank Caulder, president of the National Hockey League.
(Originally published by the Daily News on Sunday, April 14, 1940; written by Gene Ward)
Toronto, April 13. – Two minutes seven seconds after the start of sudden-death overtime here tonight Bryan Hextall, a farm boy from Saskatchewan, won the Stanley Cup for New York’s Rangers. He took Phil Watson’s relay, drilled it past goalie Turk Broda of the Maple Leafs and climaxed one of the greatest single game come-backs in the history of the chase for Lord Stanley’s pewterware. The final score was 3-2 but it doesn’t tell the story.
Just listen to this, you folks back there in Gotham – our Rangers were down 2-0 going into the final chukker and 14,894 fans had counted ’em out and were mentally digging ducats for a seventh game on Tuesday.
Then these dead tired Blue Shirts tapped some hidden well of energy. Forgotten were aching legs, deadened by the long play-offs. With startling suddenness the confident Leafs were tossed into confusion and the Rangers began to ride the icy plains. They became the driving, relentless force which battered Boston’s Bruins. At 8:08 of that third period Neil Colville took Alex Shibicky’s pass, shook off Red Horner and laced a sizzling angle shot into the corner.
One minute 54 seconds later Alf (Rookie) Pike feinted Broda out of position after Clint Smith’s set up pass, and delivered the tying goal.
Into the extra period the battle rolled. But now nothing could stop the Rangers. Just as the crowd was settling down after intermission the winning play unfolded.
Dutch Hiller flashed down the side-boards as Gordie Drillon and Jack Church collided and fell at the Blue line. Phil Watson had the disk at this point and gave it to Dutch, then got it back.
Hextall’s Pay-off Goal.
The stage was set. Hextall was skimming in from right wing and Watson sent the pay-off pass skimming over to him at precisely the right moment. Hex wasted no time in firing, giving the Rangers their first Stanley Cup victory since 1933 and their third in history (1928-33-40). His shot was high, clean and hard, leaving no room for doubt.
But it was strictly an O. Henry ending to what started out as a decisive Maple Leaf triumph. When the Drillon-Apps-Davidson line came on for its second turn in the opening chapter it shoved the Leafs in front at 6:52. Syl Apps took Bob Davidson’s pass, outskated Ott Heller and Babe Pratt and beat Dave Kerr with a low sizzler.
Through the remaining minutes of that period and through the second Apps flew as only he can fly. So did Drillon. The Leafs “money” line had come into its own at last and the crowd was feverish with excitement.
At 4:51 of the middle period a sloppy play by Kilby Macdonald led to another Leaf goal. The Don Metz-Red Heron-Sweeney Schriner line was on the ice, with Nick Metz having just relieved Heron. Schriner stick-handled away from Clint Smith behind his own cage and spun up the rink.
His pass to Nick Metz seemingly was covered by Macdonald deep in Blue Shirt territory, but the Ranger winger got careless and Nick reached around him to slap the disk past an amazed Kerr.
At the 10 minute mark it was almost 3-0 as Drillon went in Kerr from a breakaway play. Again Drillon surged inside and this time Apps got a piece of the rebound. But Kerr was working like a well-oiled jumping jack now. The Rangers were on the road back.
Broda was doing a tremendous job in the Leaf nets during the early minutes of the third period, but he couldn’t last under the barrage laid down by the bombing Blue Shirts.
Neil scored at 8:08, spinning his shot from the red penalty spot at Broda’s left. Next Mac Colville and Schriner were given thumb by Referee Bill Stewart for slashing and the Rangers, playing four-man hockey as only they can play it, cashed in with the tying goal.
Alf Pike winged it after taking Clint Smith’s passout from the corner. He received the disk from Broda’s right, feinted once and let go with a high one to the center of cording. The time on that one was 10:02 and in the space of one minute 54 seconds the Rangers had put the ball game right back where it started from.
At 17:14 Watson, Hextall, Hiller, Coulter and Muzz Patrick ganged up for a mass attack on Broda. Watson was wide open for a shot and was fed the disk by Hextall.
Big Pile Up.
Broda flopped and there was a big pile-up, with the goalie on the bottom. The red light flashed, but Stewart ruled it “no goal” because Hextall was sitting on Broda in the crease.
So it was a nice stroke of poetic justice that Hex was the goal getter who came through with the big money poke in overtime. Eleven of the Rangers (the rest go home directly from here) Lester Patrick, Frankie Boucher, newspapermen and, most important, the Stanley Cup, will leave here tomorrow at 8 A.M. for New York, arriving tomorrow night.
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