The Trail Smoke Eaters on their 1938-39 European tour set in the annuals of international hockey what is likely to stand for a great many years. They were true ambassadors to the world, and displayed a brand of hockey that saw excellent stickhandling, and superb passing; and with very little body contact.
Everywhere on the Continent, the Smoke Eaters found themselves surrounded by enthusiastic crowds, who literally mobbed them in autograph-seeking fervor, after every appearance. Easily the most colourful team to ever play abroad, the Canadian champions were immensely popular, and their success with foreign fans was tremendous--and at times amazing. What a contrast to the Canadian teams touring Europe the last twenty or so years! Today, they need police protection in most European cities.
It was generally agreed that their inspiring play did more to promote the game throughout the nine countries they visited, than the efforts of any other single organisation.
The Smoke Eaters made only a couple of changes from their Allan Cup team, and made the gruelling trip with only 13 players. Coach Elmer Piper left the club for a similiar post with the Turner Valley Oilers of the Alberta Senior League, after only spending one season with the Smokies. His position was taken over by Ab Cronie, who doubled as a playing-coach. Captain Dave Duchak also passed up the trip by accepting a job as the playing-coach of the Calgary Stampeders. Art Forrest, a native Trail product, returned after a stint with a hockey team in London, England, and filled in for Duchak. Forrest's trip was short cut, for while the Smoke Eaters were playing a two game exhibition game series in Lethbridge against the Maple Leafs, on the first leg of their Trans-Canada tour, he was rushed to the hospital for an appendectomy. Benny Hayes, a slick forward with the Lethbridge Maple Leafs, was picked up by the Trail club, and proved himself a valuable member.
The Smoke Eaters only managed one exhibition at home, before starting their 15,000 mile trip, and that was an easy 8-1 victory over the newly formed Trail Blazers. Injuries played a big factor in the Smoke Eaters poor showing across Canada, and they only managed to win eight, tied one game, and lost six in the 15 game series--but they came on strong by winning six of their last seven games in Eastern Canada. They outscored the Canadian teams 65 goals to 41.
The Smoke Eaters embarked from Halifax on 10 December, 1938, and arriving in Scotland, made their first European showing in Glasgow on 17 December, and won the game 4-2. It marked the beginning of a 55 game schedule, in which they won 53 games, tied one, and lost one. From the time the Smoke Eaters left Trail, until they returned with the World Championship, they played a total of 71 games--they won 62, lost seven and were held to two draws. Trail scored a total of 374 goals, and were scored on 177 times; their average game scored was 5.3 goals scored and the against average 1.5--a remarkable record which will probably never be equallled.
The ten day World Championship Tournament started on February 3, 1939, and was held in Basel and Zurich; two of the greatest little cities perched in the picturesque Swiss Alps. Before the tournament ended on February 12th, the Trail Smoke Eaters had won the hearts of all the Swiss fans, and went about the business of winning the championship in methodical style. Trail sailed through the tournament without a single defeat, and won eight straight games. In fact, they were only scored on once, by Czechoslovakia. The Czechoslovaks proved the toughest team to pass, as the low score indicated. The Smokies met the Czechs in the third round of the tourney, and skated to a convincing 4-1 triumph.
Here's the way the Trail Smoke Eaters marked up their victories: First round they beat the Netherlands 8-0 and Poland 4-0. In the second round they shut out Britain 4-0, and defeated Germany 9-0. In the third and final round they shut out Switzerland 7-0, before 16,000 fans, and continued their brilliant play by stopping Czechoslovakia 4-1, and blanking the United States 4-0. In the eight game finals the Smoke Eaters garnered 42 goals, with Bunny Dame pacing the team with nine goals. Bunny was followed by Joe Benoit and Jimmy Morris, seven; Dick Kowcinak, six; Johnny McCreedy four; Ab Cronie, three; Mel Snowden and Mickey Brennen, two each; and Tom Johnston a singleton. Cronie was the leading player in the assist department with nine; followed by McCreedy with seven. Joe Benoit was the overall point leader with 13.
Duke Scodellaro received real praise for his outstanding goaltending, and the European fans said, "They never saw his equal." Duke had a powerhouse defence playing in front of him: in Jimmy Haight, Tom Johnston and Mel Snowden. Joe Benoit, Ab Cronie and Bunny Dame were Trail's number one line; the Smoke Eaters other forward line consisted of McCreedy, Kowcinak and Brennen. Benny Hayes was used as the utility forward; Buck Buchanan (a former North Battleford Beavers) was the backup goalie to Duke Scodellaro. Buchanan turned in a number of sparkling performances.
O.H. Nelson, President of the Smoke Eaters, made the overseas tour, and acted a manager--and proved himself a most popular man.
The Smoke Eaters certainly advertised the city of Trail. Throughout Europe and by not wearing the customary Canadian white uniform, the club decided to go with their famous, and colourful, orange and black jerseys. Sports writers all over the country were intrigued by the symbols of the Smoke Eater name, and the stacks belching out a stream of smoke, high above the CM&S (Cominco Mining & Smelting) Smelter.
Cross Canada TourEdit
|Date||Winning Team||Losing Team|
|November 11||Trail 4||Lethbridge Maple Leafs 3|
|November 12||Lethbridge Maple Leafs 6||Trail 2|
|November 14||Trail 6||Calgary Stampeders 2|
|November 15||Trail 3||Edmonton Eskimos 3|
|November 17||Saskatoon Quakers 2||Trail 1|
|November 19||Flin Flon Bombers 5||Trail 4|
|November 20||Flin Flon Bombers 4||Trail 1|
|November 25||Kirkland Lake 2||Trail 1|
|November 28||Trail 9||Oshawa G-Men 5|
|December 1||Trail 7||Ottawa Senators 4|
|December 2||Trail 8||Cornwall Flyers 2|
|December 3||Trail 8||Cornwall Flyers 1|
|December 5||Quebec Aces 3||Trail 2|
|December 7||Trail 9||Saint John Beavers 1|
|December 8||Trail 5||Halifax Wolverines 2|
Dec 17 4-2 Scotland All Stars @ Glasgow Dec 21 4-1 (1:0, 2:1, 1:0) Canadians in Europe @ The Hague Dec 22 4-1 (1:0, 2:0, 1:1) Canadians in Europe @ The Hague Dec 25 5-1 (2:1, 1:0, 2:0) Germany All Stars @ Berlin Dec 26 9-1 (4:0, 3:0, 2:1) Germany All Stars @ Berlin Dec 28 8-0 (5:0, 1:0, 2:0) Germany All Stars @ Hamburg Jan 2 9-1 (2:1, 2:0, 5:0) Germany All Stars @ Cologne Jan 3 2-0 (0:0, 1:0, 1:0) Rhineland All Stars @ Krefeld Jan 4 4-2 (1:0, 3:1, 0:1) Riesersee @ Munich Jan 5 8-0 (2:0, 3.0, 3:0) Riesersee @ Munich Jan 9 6-0 (1:0, 2:0, 3:0) Vienna Jan 10 10-1 (2:0, 1:1, 7:0) Vienna Jan 12 3-0 (1:0, 2:0, 0:0) Czechoslovakia @ Prague Jan 13 2-1 (1:1, 1:0, 0:0) LTC Prague @ Prague Jan 15 10-1 (4:0, 1:0, 5:1) Dab Katowice Jan 16 5-2 (4:1, 1:1, 0:0) Poland All Stars @ Katowice Jan 18 4-1 (1:0, 2:1, 1:0) LTC Prague @ Prague Jan 19 9-1 (4:0, 1:1, 4:0) Prague Jan 21 7-0 (1:0, 5:0, 1:0) Germany All Stars @ Garmisch-Partenkirchen Jan 22 7-2 (1:1, 2:1, 4:0) Germany All Stars @ Garmisch-Partenkirchen Jan 24 5-4 (1:1, 1:0, 3:3) Canadians in Europe @ Haag Jan 25 10-1 (2:1, 3:0, 5:0) Canadians in Europe @ Amsterdam Jan 27 14-1 (3:0, 4:1, 7:0) Brussels Etoile du Nord @ Brussel Jan 29 7-0 Antwerp Brado Feb 3 8-0 (1:0, 4:0, 3:0) Netherlands @ Basel (Wch) Feb 5 4-0 (2:0, 1:0, 1:0) Poland @ Basel (Wch) Feb 7 4-0 (0:0, 0:0, 4:0) Great Britain @ Zürich (Wch) Feb 8 2-1 (0:1, 0:0, 2:0) Czechoslovakia @ Basel (Wch) Feb 9 9-0 (2:0, 5:0, 2:0) Germany @ Zürich (Wch) Feb 10 7-0 (2:0, 4:0, 1:0) Switzerland @ Basel (Wch) Feb 11 4-0 (0:0, 1:0, 3:0) Czechoslovakia @ Basel (Wch) Feb 12 4-0 (3:0, 1:0, 0:0) United States @ Basel (Wch) Feb 14 8-0 (1:0, 5:0, 2:0) Switzerland B @ Neuchatel Feb 15 3-2 (1:1, 1:1, 1:0) SC Berne Feb 16 6-1 (2:1, 4:0, 0:0) Zurich Hockey Club Feb 17 3-2 (1:0, 1:1, 1:1) EHC Arosa @ Arosa Feb 18 11-0 (2:0, 5:0, 4:0) St. Moritz Feb 19 2-0 (0:0, 1:0, 1:0) HC Davos @ Davos Feb 22 5-1 (0:1, 3:0, 2:0) United States @ The Hague Feb 23 3-1 Canadians in Europe @ Amsterdam Feb 24 2-1 United States @ Tilborg Feb 27 5-1 (3:0, 0:0, 2:1) United States @ Brussels Feb 28 3-0 United States @ Antwerp Mar 7 4-0 (2:0, 1:0, 1:0) England All Stars @ London Mar 8 5-2 England All Stars @ London Mar 9 10-6 England All Stars @ London Mar 11 5-3 (0:0, 2:2, 3:1) England All Stars @ London Mar 14 2-2 Harringay Combines @ London Mar 16 1-4 Wembley Combines @ London Mar 18 2-1 Earls Court Rangers @ London Mar 20 5-0 Scotland All Stars @ Kincardy Mar 22 4-2 Scotland All Stars @ Ayr Mar 24 3-2 Scotland All Stars @ Falkirk