The Port Arthur Seniors showed great promise even before their regular season began. Not only were they the defending Allan Cup champions, but they won the Sportsmen’s Patriotic Association Cup in a preseason tournament against some of the top amateur teams in Ontario and Quebec.
The Seniors’ playoff tenure began in the face of great adversity from their perpetual rivals, Fort William. Throughout the regular season, the teams had been evenly matched, their meetings having resulted in 7 wins for Port Arthur and 5 for Fort William.
When the playoff series began in Port Arthur, neither side would give an inch. The match ended a 2-2 tie, and both sides readied themselves for a tense best-of-three series. Moving to Fort William the following game did nothing to alter the deadlock, and a 1-1 tie was the result.
The pressure was enormous for the final game, and only caused the teams to tighten up their defensive game even further. At the end of three periods, no score was reported, so the teams headed into overtime. One overtime period passed without a goal, so they moved into a second. These last twenty minutes were the most chaotic of all, and a total of 40 shots on goal were registered by both sides. Although he tallied a heroic 60 saves during the game, “Doc” Langtry of Fort William was finally beaten when Danny Cox came up with a pinpoint shot from left wing that deflected off of his pads and into the net. The Ports still had to play a tight defensive for six and a half more minutes, though, and nerves were beginning to fray. Lorne Chabot was forced to make 24 saves in this period alone, exactly half of his 48 save total in this stunning goalie duel. However, when the bell rang, the score remained 1-0 for Port Arthur, so it would be the Seniors who went on to defend their Allan Cup title.
After this dramatic playoff series, the Regina Vics came to Port Arthur to contend for the Western championship. In the first game, the Seniors showed total dominance, scoring four goals in the first period and carrying that lead through to the end for a 6-3 victory. Regina came back swinging in the following match, and was able to beat Port Arthur by 2-1. The series was points-based, however, so the Seniors took the Western title because of their high score in the first game.
This left the University of Toronto Varsity team as the final contenders to the title, the same team that had battled it out with Port Arthur in the previous year’s final. Heading to Montreal, the Port Arthur team showed great ability in their first game against the Varsity squad. They came out hard and fast, and were able to net a clean goal in the first period. Knowing that they had the advantage, they played the defensive for the remainder of the game, taking only occasional rushes to the net. They did play enough of an offensive game to knock Toronto’s goaltender unconscious with a shot to the temple however, so he was relieved by a junior player who did well for the squad. The rest of the game passed with no further goals, and Port Arthur gained the advantage in the series with their 1-0 win.
The following game was an upset for Port Arthur. The Seniors were over-confident going into the game, and found their Varsity opponents much harder to handle than in the previous game. The game was tied 1-1 at the end of the third period, and Toronto was determined going into overtime. They quickly scored a goal that was contested by the Port Arthur team, as it was unclear whether it deflected off the post or bounced off of the back of the net. The referee was adamant, and the one goal deficit deflated the Seniors, who suffered another goal before overtime was out.
The following game was staged in Toronto, due to some maneuvering by the Varsity management. Despite facing the home crowd, not to mention Toronto referees, the Ports staged an impressive rally during the decisive game. Things looked bleak during the first period; the lighting in the rink was hindering Chabot’s performance, and he let in three goals before the end of the period. However, as soon as the third goal hit home, the Seniors’ passion was ignited, and then the real fight began. Alex Gray and Bill Brydge charged to the net and Brydge scored on a rebound. Port Arthur planned their attack going into the following period, and netted another goal after a determined effort. Then, in a brilliant combination play, Danny Cox set up Alex Gray for the 3-3 tie, and Port Arthur kept their Allan Cup hopes alive.
The final game of the series would prove to be the most dramatic of all. Varsity scored two goals in the first period, leaving Port Arthur with a two goal deficit that they were unable to shake during the second period. Heading into the third period two points down, the Seniors were determined to score, but were held off until only three minutes remained. Then, in an urgent rush, Albert Pudas and Bill Brydge struck up a winning combination play and Pudas laid one in. Only moments later, Art Chapman scored another with the help of Danny Cox, and the Ports headed into overtime with incredible momentum. However, Toronto was headstrong, and held them off for the whole of the twenty minute overtime. Port Arthur finally got their chance in the second period of overtime, when Alex Gray intercepted a pass and shot it over to Danny Cox, who navigated through Toronto’s defence to the net. In a poor position to shoot, he sent it back to Gray, who shot it into the right side of the net to win the title for Port Arthur 3-2.
The Port Arthur team was welcomed home by thousands of cheering fans, and the players were paraded through the city. To this day, the Port Arthur Seniors are one of only five teams to ever successfully defend an Allan Cup title. One of the other teams to do so were the Thunder Bay Twins, who carried on the Seniors’ tradition of excellence in senior hockey by winning 4 Allan Cup titles, making PortArthur/Thunder Bay the most decorated community in Allan Cup history.
Back Row left to right:
Ed Carpenter (Coach), J.J. Hickey(Secretary), E. Sutton (trainer), A.G. Poundsford(President)
Front Row left to right:
E.C.'Ted' Whalen, Albert Pudas, Alex Gray, Bill Brydge, Lorne Chabot, Gordon Wilson, Wilf L'Heureux, Art Chapman, Danny Cox
Inducted into the Northwestern Ontario Sports Hall of Fame, September 25, 1982