Strange But True (Toronto Marlboros)

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Strange But True – Marlboro History

The year was 1905 and the defending OHA Senior Champion Marlboros had earned the right to once again play for the provincial title; this time against the Smiths Falls Bears.

The first game was played at the old Mutual Street Arena in downtown Toronto and the visitors not being used to such a large playing surface were soundly thrashed by the much faster Marlboros by a score of 8-3.

In that game the well known Smiths Falls player named Harry Smith was injured by a heavy check and publicly vowed to get even with the Marlboros in the second game back in Smiths Falls.

That second game became a “war” as both sides spent the better part of two periods inflicting maximum hurt on each other to the point Marlboros only had two players able to start the third period.

One must understand in that era teams would play 7 aside and only a couple extra players were on hand. Strangely enough the rules at the time stated that when a player on one team was injured he was not replaced, but instead the opponent had to take one of their players off the ice to even up the sides.

The on ice official had no idea how to handle the situation as it would have meant a game of two on two and there was no historical precedence for such a quandary.

The man in charge of the series was the OHA Secretary at the time – W.A. Hewitt – who was actually the father of the future and legendary Toronto Maple Leafs announcer Foster Hewitt.

Mr. Hewitt had attempted to get to the game by train but missed the first two periods after being stuck in Peterborough as the train could not navigate through a massive snow storm.

When he finally did arrive at the rink he had to argue his way into the rink as the doormen did not believe he was an OHA official.

Once finally inside he put a stop to the proceedings and in returning to Toronto the next day it was decided that both of the first two games would be thrown out and the series would be decided by a single sudden death game to be played at a neutral site in Peterborough a few days later.

The game drew big interest from a band of traveling Marlboro supporters who having spent the entire train ride to Peterborough partying found themselves shut out of the rink as an ominous “sold out” sign hung over the box office.

Undaunted the Toronto supporters found a hole in the wall out back and proceeded to file onto the ice surface where they refused to move until they were guaranteed standing room perches around the rink.

Once in their perches the supporters were able to cheer their Marlboros onto a convincing 9 – 3 victory in winning their second consecutive provincial title.

Another strange foot note in this season was the fact that the legendary and future hall of famer Fred “Cyclone” Taylor was front and center in a strange conflict involving the Marlboros, but more specifically W.A. Hewitt.

Hewitt who had no direct affiliation with the Marlboro organization had taken it upon himself to invite the rising star Taylor to join the powerful Marlboros just before the season was to begin. Taylor having grown up in small town rural Ontario was a bit intimidated by the big city and politely sent his regrets.

Hewitt and his all powerful OHA cronies promptly suspended Taylor from participating at any level of Ontario hockey forcing the future super star to pack his bags for Northern Michigan where he plied his trade before eventually moving out west to Vancouver where his legend would be further engrained in hockey history.