1948 – Port Arthur West End Bruins
It was a powerful Port Arthur West End Bruins team that qualified for the 1948 Memorial Cup final, a best-of-seven series played in Toronto’s Maple Leaf Gardens.
Coached by Ed Lauzon, the Bruins were led by captain Rudy Migay and defenceman Benny Woit, both of whom had spent 1947 with the Memorial Cup-champion Toronto St. Michael’s Majors.
Also in the Port Arthur lineup was flashy Danny Lewicki, an addition from the Fort William Columbus club. And the Bruins featured goaltender Lorne Chabot, one of the best around.
Port Arthur was in the Memorial Cup for the first time in 21 years, having lost to the Owen Sound Greys in 1927.
This time the opposition was the Barrie Flyers of coach Leighton (Hap) Emms. Barrie had never before reached the final.
This series never was really in doubt, as Port Arthur swept it— 10-8, 8-1, 5-4 and 9-8.
The Bruins started on April 24 with Migay scoring three times to win a physical contest in front of 13,075 fans.
“If the guys out west who holler about rough play had seen the game,” wrote Dave Dryburgh of the Regina Leader-Post, “they’d seek a court injunction to halt the series. Barrie has a character named (Ray) Gariepy who makes Moose Jaw’s Jim Bedard look like a Lady Byng Trophy winner. But Mr. Gariepy made one mistake on one of his wild sallies and was flattened like a rug by Port Arthur’s Benny Woit. . . . It was the bodycheck of the decade . . .”
Lewicki and Dave Creighton each scored twice to lead the Bruins to the Game 2 victory.
In Game 3, on April 28, Barrie held a lead on three occasions but couldn’t hold it. The Bruins’ Allan Forslund broke a 4-4 tie at 15:54 of the second period.
After the game, Emms announced that his Flyers wouldn’t play a fourth game without a change of referees. Vic Lindquist and Ken Mullins handled the first three games.
“If they don’t give us different referees, we won’t show up,” Emms said. “They can suspend me or do anything they want, but we won’t play.”
The next day, Canadian Amateur Hockey Association president Al Pickard of Regina announced: “The fourth game will go on as scheduled . . . and with the same referees.”
Dryburgh wrote: “It doesn’t matter if (Emms) does drop out because he won’t win the cup anyway. But why he should insult the referees is beyond us. They’ve been extremely lenient with his Flyers who play in such robust fashion that it is evident they gave the rule book only a cursory glance.”
The Bruins won the title on May 1, beating the Flyers on Lewicki’s second goal at 8:37 of overtime before 13,053 fans. Creighton helped out with four goals and two assists.
“It was a tough game to win and a tougher one to lose,” Lauzon said. “I figure I should really head for the showers. I’m soaking wet.”
1948 Port Arthur West End Bruins:
Fred Baccari, Barton Bradley, Lorne Chabot, Alfie Childs, Dave Creighton, Pete Durham, Bobby Fero, Bert Fonso, Allan Forslund, Art Harris, Bill Johnson, Danny Lewicki, Rudy Migay, Norval Olsen, Benny Woit, Robbie Wrightsell, Jerry Zager, E.C. Whalen (manager), Ed Lauzon (coach).
NHL: Of the 1948 Bruins to play in the NHL, Lewicki won the Stanley Cup with the 1951 Toronto Maple Leafs and Woit would hoist the Stanley Cup three times with the Detroit Red Wings in 1952, 1954, and 1955.