Return to article indexBy Reyn DavisFree Press Staff Writer
Chris (Pepe) Bordeleau, a little guy in a big town, made a lot of noise with his long stick Thursday night to send Winnipeg Jets off the tarmack in a blaze of glory.
Precision-quick and aided by two linemates, Bill (Sudsy) Sutherland and Norm Beaudin, ex-Black Hawk Bordeleau scored four goals, assisted on another and blew a breakaway as the Jets defeated New York Raiders before approximately 6,300 fans witnessing the debut of the World Hockey Association in Gotham City.
With the Jets' trump card, Bobby Hull, watching from the seats and defenceman Bob Woytowich listening at home on the radio, the silk-smooth Winnipeg club nibbled away until their first WHA victory was comfortably lodged in their stomachs.
Never were the Jets behind, but the Raiders twice reduced three-goal deficits to spreads of only one in what could be described as a tense, highly-entertaining struggle.
If the Jets had been overcome, the Raiders today might well be toasted as the great new hockey club. But they lost and sullen New Yorkers reserved blasting or boosting the Raiders until the weekend at least.
Tonight, the Jets skate onto Minnesota ice to be the guests of the St.Paul-based Fighting Saints, victors over Winnipeg in two pre-season games.
Then it's back to Winnipeg about noon Saturday for a good night's sleep, a peek at the kids, then back to the arena for the Jets' home opener Sunday night at 7:30.
Bordeleau's outstanding performance Thursday could hardly over-shadow the efforts of his own teammates.
The defence, reduced to only four men with Woytowich's unresolved court battle, stood its ground although New Yorkers did not seem to notice in the frustration of watching waves of Raiders break up just over the Winnipeg blue-line.
And Ernie Wakely was miserly in the Winnipeg net. Every goal the Raiders scored followed a concerted, well-organized ganging attack. All but one of New York's goals was scored while the Raiders enjoyed a man advantage.
While big Duke Asmundson pinched himself before the game to satisfy himself this was not a dream but reality in living flesh, the Raiders were pinching themselves for allowing the Jets to get off to a quick 3-0 lead.
Bordeleau scored two in the first period as the Jets settled for a 3-1 lead, but New York closed the gap slightly in the second, reducing Winnipeg's lead to 4-3.
The Raiders still had a chance to tie the game and force sudden-death overtime when Bordeleau put the dreamers to bed with Winnipeg's final goal a second before the buzzer sounded.
Following the game, Bordeleau could not help but boast a bit about the Jets.
"They (the Raiders) were sloppy," said Bordeleau to a crowd of journalists. "These things happen, but I don't think that'll ever happen to us. We're much more disciplined."
Pepe might have been right ... at least this night. The Jets, all 18 of them on the ice, weaved pass patterns that would make a seamstress blush. It has to be that way this season. The Jets are too small to run over anybody, but they certainly seem to know how to go around them.
Ab McDonald, whose wife gave birth to their fifth child, a daughter, early Thursday morning, celebrated by scoring the Jets' first goal in WHA competition.
It was only fitting that the 36-year-old captain of the Jets should notch the goal. Danny Johnson dug the puck out of the net for the McDonalds' showcase at home.
Asmundson scored the other Winnipeg goal after Bordeleau outwrestled New York goalie Gary Kurt, who vacated his net to chase the puck in a corner.
"It was a freebie," explained Asmundson.
Ron Ward, playing centre and happy again after bolting Vancouver Canucks, scored two goals for New York. Bobby Sheehan, hair spilling down to his shoulders, scored the other two.
Sheehan, an American-born player, struck an instant rapport with his New York fans who loved his explosive skating, hard shot and flamboyance.
Sheehan appears to be the Raiders' first candidate for celebrity status in New York.
Brian Cadle made only four or five appearances on the ice for the Jets, but his first, naturally, made some news.
His awkward style attracted New York defenceman Hal Willis who dealt Cadle with a high stick. Cadle answered with one of his own, and Willis answered with another. Referee Bob Sloan, who happened to be watching, sent Willis off to serve two minors and Cadle one.
Willis was serving the second half of his four-minute sentence when McDonald, receiving a two-way pass from Johnson and Jean-Guy Gratton picked it out of the air for the game's first goal.
Bordeleau scored his goals, jamming the puck behind Kurt after Sutherland had fed him a pass through the crease, slapping a wobbly shot heading over the net that Kurt bobbled into his goal; capping Beaudin's short pass from behind the net that Sutherland slipped behind his back to a wide open side, and, of course, winning the late, late faceoff to the left of the New York goal, then walking in to whip a wrist-shot along the ice between Kurt and the post.
All in all, it was a night to be remembered. The Jets will be back, but you can win the New York opening of a new league only once.SummaryWinnipeg 6, New York 4First Period
- 1. Winnipeg, McDonald (Gratton, Zanussi) 8:14; 2. Winnipeg, C. Bordeleau (Sutherland, Ash) 13:20; 3. Winnipeg, C. Bordeleau (Beaudin) 16:55; 4. New York, Ward (Block, Bradley) 17:20.Penalties
- Willis NY (double minor) 5:23, Cadle W 5:23, Cadle W 17:51.Second Period
- 5. Winnipeg, Asmundson (Bordeleau) 14:34; 6. New York, Sheehan (Ward, Block) 16:44; 7. New York, Ward (Sheehan, Reichmuth) 9:51.Penalties
- Rivers NY 2:04, Rivers NY 6:00, Johnson W 9:26, Morenz NY 12:48, Rousseau W 14:46, Ash W 18:26.Third Period
- 8. Winnipeg, Bordeleau (Sutherland, Beaudin) 4:30; 9. New York, Sheehan (Block, Ferguson) 14:23; 10. Winnipeg, Bordeleau 19:59.Penalties
- Cuddie W 6:00; Winnipeg bench (too many men on the ice, served by Gratton) 8:12; Hornung W 13:11; Douglas NY 15:16.
Goal - Winnipeg, Wakely; New York, Kurt.
Attendance - 6,273.