Mak­ing his­tory

Long­est hockey game in Cape Bre­ton his­tory was played in 1908

Cape Breton Post - - FRONT PAGE - Paul MacDougall Paul MacDougall is an ed­u­ca­tor and writer. He lives in Syd­ney. His col­umn ap­pears monthly in the Cape Bre­ton Post. Paul can be reached at paul_ macdougall@cbu.ca

It was the long­est hockey game in Cape Bre­ton’s his­tory.

Last March 26, the hockey story all over the news had noth­ing to do with the fact no Cana­dian teams were go­ing to the play­offs.

Rather it was about a game for the Nova Sco­tia girls Pee­wee AA cham­pi­onship. The TASA Ducks of Tan­tallon met the Pic­tou County Se­lects at St. Mar­garet’s Cen­tre in Halifax. Af­ter reg­u­la­tion play the teams were tied at one and lack­ing rules re­gard­ing shootout score set­tling, the eleven and twelve year olds con­tin­ued on for seven more fif­teen-minute pe­ri­ods.

As the pe­ri­ods drew on and the breaks got longer it be­came ev­i­dent the game had to end, goal or not. Five hours and ten pe­ri­ods later the ref­er­ees ended the game and Hockey Nova Sco­tia called the two teams co-cham­pi­ons, a sen­si­ble and de­serv­ing de­ci­sion.

Hockey buffs and his­to­ri­ans be­gan to call this the long­est hockey game in Nova Sco­tia his­tory, per­haps even beyond the boards and bound­aries of the prov­ince’s ice rinks. If the hardy young girls had skated an­other twenty-six min­utes they would have sur­passed the long­est NHL game in his­tory that hap­pened al­most 80 years to the day.

The play­off game, first of five for the Stan­ley Cup, took place on March 24, 1936, and was an epic bat­tle be­tween the Mon­treal Ma­roons and the Red Wings of Detroit end­ing score­less af­ter sixty min­utes. At 116 min­utes into over­time, Detroit’s Hec­tor Kil­rea tore down the chopped to pieces Mon­treal Fo­rum ice try­ing des­per­ately to con­trol the puck as it dodged the ruts, be­fore steer­ing it over to Win­nipeg grain of­fice clerk, Modere “Mud” Bruneteau, who swung at it, send­ing it past net min­der Lorne Chabot for the lone and de­cid­ing goal. No NHL game has gone longer since.

But what about be­fore 1936? Were there longer games then?

In March 1908, old hockey ri­vals Syd­ney and Glace Bay squared off at the Alexandra Rink in Glace Bay. Seven man hockey was played then, there were no ex­tra play­ers catch­ing a breather on the bench and pe­ri­ods went 20 min­utes straight. The rink was packed to the rafters with fans, many of them coal min­ers, be­cause it was Satur­day night and pay-day to boot.

There were three teams in the league that win­ter with North Syd­ney mak­ing the third. The teams all vied for the Cruise Tro­phy, named af­ter well-known Cape Bre­ton Sports­man, A.W. Cruise. He and lo­cal busi­ness­man Mr. MacAdam op­er­ated both the Alexandra Rink and the King’s The­atre in Glace Bay.

The Glace Bay team con­sisted of goalie Big Dan MacNeil, a prom­i­nent physi­cian and former Dal­housie foot­ball player, Billy Par­sons, one time Mar­itime Light­weight box­ing champ, banker Bill Hay, Reg­gie Bre­haut, Bil­lie Wilkie, Joe De­bi­son and Jack MacLeod. Percy Ball minded the twine for Syd­ney with Bert Publi­cover, Ge­orge McSweeny, Har­vey Richard­son, Dr. Gor­don Rich­mond, Jimmy Ken­dall and Jack McKenna pass­ing the puck.

Goal judges Ge­orge Doyle

“Seven man hockey was played then, there were no ex­tra play­ers catch­ing a breather on the bench and pe­ri­ods went 20 min­utes straight. The rink was packed to the rafters with fans, many of them coal min­ers, be­cause it was Satur­day night and pay-day to boot.”

and Stu­art McCaw­ley stood on the ice be­hind the net and raised a hockey stick or broom when­ever a goal was scored. Af­ter 60 min­utes nei­ther judge had been called to ac­tion. Over­time was in or­der.

Af­ter a short break the two teams com­menced their icy duel again. Parry and thrust they did with only short breaks be­tween pe­ri­ods till the clock showed 12:30. They had been at it a solid four hours. So were some in the stands with the oc­ca­sional Satur­day night fisticuffs break­ing out. By then the Zam­boni-less ice had be­gun to go to mush and by all ac­counts the goal judges were near frozen to death.

Town so­lic­i­tor and part­ner in the Glace Bay team W.R. Tobin sug­gested since it was now Sun­day the game be stopped to be con­tin­ued later in the week. The team man­agers agreed and ref­eree Frank ‘Tanker’ MacMullin, who died overseas in the First World War, called the game. It had lasted two hours and fifty min­utes.

For 28 years Cape Bre­ton had the long­est game of hockey on record. The 1936 Mon­treal-Detroit game lasted six min­utes longer and hasn’t been sur­passed since ex­cept for Guin­ness record chal­lenges that don’t count.

As for the Syd­ney-Glace Bay game, it never did get fin­ished. They called it a tie.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

This is Alexandra Rink, Glace Bay, circa 1920. Thanks to Barry Verbeski from the Glace Bay His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety for this.

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