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Ottawa Victorias – How Jimmy Enright’s boys came to challenge for the Stanley Cup

  1. sr edler
    Around the turn of the twentieth century, during the 1900–01 season, 24-year old James Joseph “Jimmy” Enright assembled a group of local teenage Ottawa boys to form a junior hockey team which would initially go under the name “Enright’s Boarders”. The youngsters trained and played at the Victoria Ice Rink – on Nepean Street near the corner of Bank Street in Ottawa – of which Jimmy Enright was an owner and manager. Their opponents initially were other junior aggregations in and outside of the city of Ottawa.[1]

    The nucleus of the early Enright’s Boarders consisted of defenceman Eddie O’Leary, wingers Art Throop and Alf Young, and centre forward Herbert “Bob” Harrison (also called “Bud” or “Bub”), along with Billy Bradley, George “Piggy” Dalglish, Paddy McLaughlin and George Shouldis, all born in the mid 1880s. In 1901–02 the team changed its name from Enright’s Boarders to the Ottawa Victorias, after the ice rink where they played, and the team would go on to play in purple sweaters with a white stylish “V” for “Victorias” right on the chest.

    [​IMG]
    Enright's Boarders in 1900–01​

    For the 1902–03 the club was joined by diminutive goalkeeper Billy Allen who was more famous as a lightweight boxer. The young off-ice pugilist would guard the Ottawa Victorias goal cage for three years until he got replaced by Billy Bannerman for the 1905–06 season. Prior to 1905 the team played successfully in the Ottawa City Hockey League (winning the championship in 1903–04) before they entered the Junior Canadian Amateur Hockey League in 1904–05 where they continued to prove themselves as a young force to be reckoned with.[2]

    For the 1905–06 season the Ottawa Victorias joined the Federal Amateur Hockey League (FAHL), and the team itself was joined by forward Tommy Smith, formerly of the Ottawa Emmetts. Smith would lead the FAHL in goal scoring in 1905–06 with 20 goals in 8 games before he moved along to the Ottawa Hockey Club of the ECAHA. The next season Smith appeared as a professional with the Pittsburgh Pros of the International Hockey League (IHL). Over the next decade Smith would distinguish himself as one of the better goal scorers in the game – winning the Stanley Cup with the Quebec Bulldogs in 1912 – which eventually earned him a place in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

    Bob Harrison scored 12 FAHL goals for the team in 1905–06, with the Victorias finishing second in the league standing behind Smiths Falls (with Percy LeSueur guarding the goal cage for Smiths Falls). In 1906–07 Harrison improved to 15 goals, establishing himself as the primary goal scorer on the team, with the Victorias finishing third in the standing behind the Montreal Montagnards and the Cornwall Hockey Club. The 1906–07 FAHL season though would become most remembered for an entirely different reason than goals or the overall league standing.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Clockwise from top left: Alf Young, Eddie O'Leary,
    Art Throop and Bob Harrison​

    At the end of the 1906–07 FAHL season, on March 6 in 1907, the Ottawa Victorias and the Cornwall Hockey Club played a game against each other in Cornwall, in a replay of a match on February 15 protested by the Victorias on ground of Cornwall using ineligible players. The Cornwall team had a promising young forward named Owen “Bud” McCourt who had led the FAHL in goal scoring during the season, and who had also freelanced briefly for the Montreal Shamrocks in the ECAHA earlier in the season, the latter exploits in Quebec causing the Victorias to level the protest of ineligibility.

    The game between the two teams (officiated by future NHA president Emmett Quinn) degenerated into a violent stick-swinging exhibition in the second half of the contest, with players on both sides taking stick blows to their heads. Both Art Throop and Alf Young on the Victorias were seriously injured, but the player most impacted by the violence turned out to be Owen “Bud” McCourt of Cornwall. McCourt had gotten himself involved in stick swinging tussles with both Art Throop and Charles ”Chic” Chamberlin, when cover point Charles Masson of the Victorias interfered with the group of players and struck down McCourt with his stick. McCourt initially left the ice after the head blow, but then tried to continue playing for a few minutes before he had to leave the ice again, and soon thereafter he fell unconscious in the dressing room. The following morning McCourt died at Hotel Dieu in Cornwall – where he had been taken for medical care – from his head injuries which revealed a broken blood vessel in the brain.[3]

    “I did not sleep much last night. The picture of poor McCourt being sewed up on the slab
    in the dressing room was with me during the three early hours of the morning”[4]

    – Referee Emmett Quinn on March 7, 1907​

    Charles Masson, who previously had played mostly with the Montreal Hockey Club in the ECAHA, was not a regular player with the Victorias, but he had been called in as a replacement for captain Bob Harrison. Harrison had been unable to participate in the March 6 game against Cornwall because he had missed train connections on his way home from Morrisburg, going right through to Montreal instead.

    Cornwall eventually won the March 6 game against the Victorias 11 goals to 3, but both second placed Cornwall and the first placed Montreal Montagnards resigned from the FAHL after the McCourt incident which meant that the third placed Ottawa Victorias were awarded league championship honors. The violent game on March 6 in Cornwall very much mirrored a similar game from just two years prior in 1905 where Alcide Laurin of Alexandria had been killed in a game against Maxville. Laurin had been struck with a stick blow to the head from Maxville player Allan Loney.[5]

    Charles Masson was brought before court in Cornwall and was charged first with murder and later with manslaughter, but he was subsequently acquitted and found “not guilty” of manslaughter after witnesses at the trial had stated that “Chic” Chamberlin of the Victorias had hit McCourt in the head prior to Masson's blow, which meant that it couldn’t be substantiated which blow had caused McCourt’s death. Jimmy Enright, who still managed the Victorias, also appeared before court and claimed that he didn’t see the blow that caused the death of McCourt.[4][6]

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Owen McCourt and Charles Masson​

    Having been awarded the 1906–07 FAHL championship gave the Victorias the opportunity to challenge for the Stanley Cup the upcoming season, after first going through a playoff opponent. At the onset of the 1907–08 season – on December 27 and 30 – the Victorias defeated Renfrew from the Upper Ottawa Valley Hockey League (UOVHL) 5 goals to 4 over two games (4-1, 1-3) for a chance to square off against the Stanley Cup holders of the Montreal Wanderers of the ECAHA.

    Eddie O’Leary and Art Throop were no longer on the team during the 1907–08 season, having left the Victorias after the previous ill-fated season, but Bob Harrison and Alf Young were still present and they were instead joined by goalkeeper Billy Hague, defensemen Charlie Ross and Melford Milne, and forwards Eddie Roberts and Jack Fraser for the Stanley Cup adventure. At the Montreal Arena on January 9, 1908 the Montreal Wanderers routed the Victorias 9 goals to 3 with Fraser, Roberts and Harrison scoring for the challengers from Ottawa. On the Wanderers Ernie Russell scored 4 of the goals, while Frank “Pud” Glass added a hat-trick and Art Ross two goals.

    For the second game, on January 13, the Victorias brought in Jack Ryan and Harry Manson, and they also borrowed 18-year old forward Eddie Gerard from the Ottawa New Edinburghs. But the trio – replacing Milne, Roberts and Young – couldn’t help the Victorias to overcome the Wanderers, and the Montreal side again skated to an easy victory, 13 goals to 1 (with Manson tallying the lone Ottawa goal), for a final aggregated score of 22 goals to 4. Ernie Russell scored 6 goals for the Wanderers in the second game (for 10 overall) while Ernie “Moose” Johnson scored 4. “Pud” Glass, Art Ross and Cecil Blachford added a goal each for the Stanley Cup champions.

    The Stanley Cup game on January 13, 1908 against the Montreal Wanderers wouldn’t stand as the last opportunity for young Eddie Gerard to win the most coveted prize in hockey, as he would later join the Ottawa Senators in the NHA in the mid 1910s, embarking on a highly distinguished Hockey Hall of Fame career at both left wing and defense. Gerard won three Stanley Cups with the Senators (in 1920, 1921 and 1923), and also one with the Toronto St. Patricks in 1922 while standing in for one game in the 1922 Stanley Cup Finals for injured St. Patricks defenseman Harry Cameron.

    Out of the original Enright’s Boarders, from the 1900–01 season, Art Throop would go on to have the most distinguished career, playing professionally in the WPHL, OPHL, NHA and PCHA between 1907 and 1915 with decent goal scoring upside. Bob Harrison appeared in one game with the Ottawa Hockey Club in the ECAHA in 1907–08, scoring one goal. During the 1908–09 season all of Eddie O’Leary, Bob Harrison and Alf Young played with the green-shirted FAHL version of the Ottawa Senators (a team which also included several old Silver Seven players), finishing second in the standing behind the Renfrew team. It would turn out to be the last high profile hockey destination for all three of them.


    Sources:

    [1] Ottawa Citizen, Nov. 21, 1936
    [2] Ottawa Citizen, Jan. 11, 1908
    [3] Ottawa Citizen, Mar. 7, 1907
    [4] Ottawa Citizen, Mar. 8, 1907
    [5] Ottawa Journal, Feb. 27, 1905
    [6] Ottawa Citizen, Apr. 12, 1907


    Posted on Behind the Boards (SIHR Blog)

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