Friday, February 12, 2010

Baltimore Hockey History: We've Got You Covered

In the last installment, I did mention the fact of the lack of coverage for the first game; giving it a paragraph at most in terms of describing the game. Even when it came to coverage the first game at the North Avenue Rink, there was little description of the the game between Johns Hopkins University and Baltimore Athletic Club. Luckily, there was at least one of the early games documented in Baltimore's hockey infancy that actually gave a solid description of the early game.

This took place on January 31st, 1896; one day before the first college hockey game between JHU and Yale University. Yale decided to take on a warm-up game when they got into Baltimore against the Baltimore Athletic Club. This column was in the February 1st edition of The Baltimore Sun on page 7 in the "World of Sport" category of the paper. Whoever did this must have been the inspiration for Dickie Dunn in "Slap Shot" because they captured the spirit of the thing in this column.

Under the headline, the quick-pull of the score and feeling of the game between Yale and BAC was more description about the game than the past features they did on it.
The Final Score 3 to 2-- The Home Boys a Little Upset by the Dash and Aggressiveness of the Blue-Stockinged Visitors, Who Start the Puck Off With a Rush Each Time.
From that point on, it's setting the tone of the game and really showing they were actually going to paint the picture for the people who weren't there. The tone set is something that will draw the reader into the whole thing.
Yale's blue-stockinged hockey players lowered their head in defeat before the Baltimore Athletic Club team. The games was played at the North Avenue Arena before a large and enthusiastic crowd, whose sympathies were beyond doubt with the home team. A small coterie of the friends of Smith, the Yale goalkeeper, who is a Baltimore boy, applauded his team, but their "rooting" availed not as the final score was 3 to 2 in favor of the BAC team.
To me, this was a great start to a column. It set the scene of the game, showed a small caveat of Yale supporter, if only because they had local boy in the line-up, plus it draws a reader into what's going to happen next. It gets you within the game from a spectators standpoint. As we move onto the game, the writer takes you inside to the travels of the Yale team and their captain as well.
The contest was swift and sharp throughout and was so rapid that time was called twice in the second half to let the Yale players regain their wind. The rest were especially for the benefit of Chace, who was not in good health, although all of the Yale players, who were tired with a day's journey on the railroad, benefited from the recesses. Malcolm Chace is the tennis player who is noted as the intercollegiate champion.
You get a brief look into the Yale's captain background, as well as how the Yalies felt after traveling down from Connecticut. The first half description was pretty solid textbook about how the game went, as well as the feel from the crowd. More game-within-the-game feel to it.
Yale played an aggressive game, taking the puck into the BAC territory from the shoot-off. Chace scored the first goal in two minutes from the time play began, going through the line of interference with a good exhibition of dodging.

The puck see-sawed between the two goals with neither side gaining much advantage until Yale's players rushed the puck close to the BAC goal. In a nervous effort to defend the goal, Jenkins, of Baltimore, accidentally pushed the puck through the post, the fluke counting the second goal for Yale.

BAC rooters were afraid this nervousness on the part of the home team would lose them the game. Corning made some unfortunate fumbles and Bisnau ran over the puck in his anxiety to gain its possession for his team. The players rallied, however, carried it into Yale territory and C. Harrison scored the first goal for BAC after a good run. The first half ended with Chace in possession of the puck and headed for the BAC goal.
With that, you get all the highlights of the first half, with a solid showing of each goals. They focus on Chace, the guy they spoke upon in the start, for Yale and give a great recollection and feel about the fans in the arena when it came to watching the game. Even the first paragraph was more than what was put into print about the game rather than the prior entries I've shot up here. Plus, it shows how much the BAC team was a little slippery in their play against a higher caliber team, like Yale seemed to be.

We move to the second half now, with the scene set for drama, as we have BAC being nervous and Yale looking like they're in complete control of the game thus far.
Yale started the second half with another rush into BAC territory, but lost the puck after a few minutes of sharp playing. T. Harrison made a run two-thirds the length of the rink, skillfully dodging and evading the interference directed at him and scored the second goal for BAC and tying the score.

Again Yale rushed the puck into BAC territory, but Jenkins stopped it, as it would have passed between his feet for a goal, and saved his team. Parmly took the puck from the scrimmage about the goal post, ran the length of the rink and passed it skillfully to Bisnau, who shot the winning goal. The game ended with T. Harrison making another long run for the Yale goal just as the whistle sounded.
While it wasn't as much as the first half, it gave away the description of the BAC comeback. Though it's the final part which showed how much complaining was starting from the early on. Maybe it's because they are Ivy Leaguers and not used to the old-school Baltimore ways, but it seemed amusing to me. Yet, they were able to give it as good as they got it.
Yale protested several times against the stick checking of the BAC team, but Referee Shearer was unable to rule against this playing, as it was so quickly done as to seem accidental. A number of Yale players measured their length on the ice or were twisted around by having a hockey stick accidentally thrust between their feet. They were not above retaliating by letting a stick slip from their hands in front of a flying BAC player.
Now, that's how you do it. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. The Yalies were ready to defend themselves if they couldn't get it from the refs. Kind of like how it's done today-- almost like policing themselves in as much of a way they could.

There was actually a solid amount of coverage to the hockey games, but it didn't seem to happen often. We saw that the games mostly took a back-seat to the other skating news in the area and the opening of the first indoor rink in the US, but there are times where the game took center stage and got the appropriate coverage it deserved.

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