Team photo courtesy: Galt Museum and Archives

Contact: Trevor Esau at

How to Read the Site:

We have tried to capture the story of the Lethbridge Maple Leafs and provide a site to post stories, documents, links and photos of their incredible journey to the Championship.

To read their great story from the beginning, scroll to the bottom of the site to part 1 and work your way up through the 34 parts (You may have to click on “older posts” at the bottom to get to part 1). Each part is in chronological order and describes a part of the journey and many contain photos (We continue to add new photos to these posts as we get them).

After part 34 we are posting current related activities, stories and photos from the Galt Museum & Archives, Lethbridge Hurricanes, City of Lethbridge and private collections, as they become available. If you have a photo or story contribution for the site we would be happy to post it.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Leafs Tour Rolls on, Next: France, Italy and Switzerland, Part 19

The Maple Leafs players were finding their game and playing excellent hockey. Other teams often had Canadians and recruits from other countries playing for them.

Back in Paris, a crowd of 15000 packed into the beautiful arena to watch the Leafs play the Americans. The Leafs were flying, skating and passing well. They trounced the Americans 11-1! Billy Gibson and Lou Siray had 3 goals and 2 assists each. The French liked the Canadian style of play! Many movie cameras were filming parts of the game and the game had been televised.

In Italy the game had a short interuption: "`At our first hockey game in Milan Bill Chandler received a telegram in-between periods that he had become a father. Both teams mauled him in congratulations and the crowd gave him a terrific hand when it was announced that he was 'lil pappa'. " (P. 72) The Leafs won 10-3. The "pony line" of Siray, Knibbs and Milroy were playing great in the last 4 games and a key to the Leaf resurgence. Dick Gray was playing with a badly bruised hand but doctors said it was not fractured. They play against a different style in Italy with a very rough game in Milan. They won 2-1. The Leafs left Italy on Feb 2, 1951 for Switzerland.

In Switzerland they were met with everything from harsh weather conditions to magnificent arenas. Games in the smaller venues were often added to the schedule as people wanted to see the Canadian team.  Just when they thought they had seen everything, they played in one rink that  had grandstands constructed out of snow and 2,500 watched an easy 12 – 1 Leaf win.

In another game, they had melting ice condition but continued the game as they didn’t  want to disappoint the 2,500 fans. On the ice they had to run not skate as the blades dug in. They stumbled around, and took golf shots but went on to a  12-1 victory.

At the beautiful new 15,000 indoor rink in Zurich they won 11-2 in front of a full house  and  finally felt like they were playing up to expectations. They then won 15- 0 against a good club in Zurich for their first shut-out. Playing daily had them in excellent physical and game condition.

The next game had them in a rink with plexiglass boards so spectators could see pucks at all times. 9,000  rabid ,frenzied fans jammed in the arena and cheered wildly. The Leafs narrowly won 2-0 for their second shutout in a row and of the tour. Their goaltending was getting continually stronger.

Another game in a small town , not initially on the schedule but added, was called after 20 minutes due to melting ice. Billy Gibson crawled to centre ice – dangerous and humourous at the same time!

One game they played was at 6,000 feet and they had trouble catching their breath due to the high altitude. They were down 2-0 after the first period but made adjustments and went on to a 7-2 win.

The last game in Switzerland was at a magnificent rink, filled to capacity.
Figure skating exhibitions were featured in-between periods. They won.

The Lethbridge Maple Leafs left  Switzerland having  played 31 games in 43 days with an overall  record 23 -5-1 and 2 exhibition games.

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