By Sam Cortes, Communications Coordinator
Stop the presses, everyone! The Elmwood Millionaires have done it. They have won the Memorial Cup, the most prestigious amateur club trophy in all of Canada!
This is what the papers probably should have written back in 1931 when the Millionaires staked their claim as Canada’s best. With their backs against the wall, they persevered and made a run to the finals in the unlikeliest of ways.
If there was another meaning to the phrase “shot heard ‘round the world”, it would be the play that helped the Millionaires make it to the Memorial Cup final. We are talking about a shot that goes in and people start wondering if pigs can fly.
It all started back in 1930/1931, before the grandest of events would unfold. A bunch of Elmwood boys in Winnipeg banded together for another season of hockey. Looking at their uniforms, they were far from millionaires. Sure, they had matching jerseys, but that’s about it.
To even sniff a chance at the Memorial Cup, the Millionaires would have to get past the Regina Pats. They were the 1930 defending Memorial Cup champs and were considered, at the time, the best team in Canada. They were said to be even better in 1931 than the one that swept their way to the championship the prior season.
The Elmwood Millionaires vs the Regina Pats
The Elmwood Millionaires first faced the Regina Pats in the 1931 Abbot Cup final. This was the Western Championship, with the winner going on to play in the Memorial Cup final.
It was a two-game format, with the team that produced the most goals moved on. In the first game, Elmwood had a tough task. Regina’s starting goalie was coming off 6 shutouts in a row leading into this affair.
Elmwood would give it their best effort, but goaltender Kenny Campbell would keep his streak alive, blanking the Millionaires and leading his team to a 1-0 win.
Game 2 was a different story though. Trailing 1-0 going into the third period, the Millionaires solved the Regina goalie and scored twice, sending the game into overtime with the series tied.
In the first overtime, it looked like all was lost. After conceding a goal earlier on, the Millionaires pressed on for the equalizer.
Out of sheer desperation, with 15 seconds left on the clock, defenseman Kitson Massey flipped a shot from his side of centre that floated into the Amphitheatre lights. In a miraculous turn of events, Regina’s goalie could not see it and once again, the game was tied!
See, pigs really do fly! In double-overtime, Spunk Duncanson scored the only goal, giving the Millionaires a 4-2 win, ensuring an unlikely, but emphatic win in the series! It was now off to the best of 3 Memorial Cup Final.
The Memorial Cup Finals
The Finals were played at Arena Gardens in Toronto against the Ottawa Primroses. They were a good team, but not considered to be a juggernaut like the Regina Pats.
In this best of three series, Elmwood got the nerves out of their system after game one, losing the opener 2-0. The second game went the Millionaires’ way as they won a nail biter 2-1.
There was some controversy, though, leading into the third and deciding game. For some reason, game three’s location was changed by the authorities to the Auditorium in Ottawa, which had a capacity of 9,000 fans.
With more adversity thrust onto their shoulders, the Millionaires seemed to relish in this moment. They disappointed the hometown crowd and skated away with a resounding 3-0 win and claimed the Memorial Cup, becoming the best amateur club in the country. Sure, some said that the Millionaires had a lot of luck go their way, but others also said, great teams make their own luck!