Victoria Cougars win Stanley Cup
The 1925 Stanley Cup Final saw the Western Canada Hockey League (WCHL) champion Victoria Cougars defeat the National Hockey League (NHL) champion Montreal Canadiens 3 games to 1 in a best-of-five game series.
The Cougars were the last non-NHL team to win the Cup as the WCHL (renamed the Western Hockey League for the 1925–26 season) folded after the 1926 Cup Finals, leaving the trophy entirely to the NHL.
With the demise of the PCHA, the Stanley Cup playoffs reverted back to a single best-of-five series to determine the champion. However, the Cup Finals still annually rotated between the east and the west, and thus all of the games in the 1925 Finals were played at the Patrick Arena in Victoria. The Cougars jumped to a 2–0 series lead with 5–2 and 3–1 victories, but the Canadiens won Game 3, 4–2. In Game 4, Gizzy Hart scored the game-winning goal in Victoria's 6–1 win to clinch the Cup.
Cougars goaltender Hap Holmes recorded a 2.00 goal-against average for the series. Jack Walker led Victoria in goals with 4, while Frank Fredrickson scored 3. Overall, eight different player combining for the Cougars' 16 goals.
In a decade of milestones, the Victoria Cougars of the WCHL won the last Stanley Cup championship by a non-NHL team. They were also just the third west-coast franchise to capture Lord Stanley's trophy. Montreal scored eight goals in the series--all coming from their top line of Howie Morenz, Billy Boucher and Aurele Joliat--but Victoria countered with a more balanced attack with eight different skaters combining for 16 goals and defeated Montreal in four games to win the Cup.
Western league hockey had undergone its share of changes as well in 1924. Prior to the start of the season, the PCHA folded and two of its best teams, the Vancouver Maroons and the Victoria Cougars, joined the WCHL. This meant that after three seasons of having three leagues compete for the Stanley Cup, the final would once again have only two competing teams.The Cougars followed much the same path to the final as did Montreal. They were also a third place finisher, and they topled the Calgary Tigers and Newsy Lalonde's Saskatoon Crescents to earn their way into the final.
CANADIENS LEAVE STANLEY BEHIND
The Canadiens were perhaps a little overconfident as the left for Victoria, and purposely did not bring the Stanley Cup with them, assured it would still be theirs upon their return.
The games were played at the Victoria Arena in this best of five series were the first broadcast on radio, and it was Dr. Clem Davies who called the play by play.
The series began on March 21, and the Canadiens dropped game one by a 5-2 score. In a supersticious move prior to the start of the game, the Cougars players hurried to leave the pre-game warmup first for good luck. The trick worked well for them again in game two, as they put the Canadiens in a hole with a 3-1 win.
INNOVATIVE PATRICK DUPES CANADIENS
Montreal, as did most of the NHL teams, still used its six best players for the majority of the game, substituting them as they each tired. Cougars manager Lester Patrick, perhaps hockey's greatest visionary, employed two lines in constant rotation during games. His reasoning was that even fresh second tier players had more to give energy wise over the course of a game that the tired players the opposition would counter with.
For game three, the Canadiens thought they would pull the Cougars trick of leaving the warmup first. It likely had no bearing on the final score, but the stunt seemed to work, as they Canadiens went on to win 4-2.
The Canadiens backs were again against the wall on March 30, and Victoria handed them a firm 6-1 routing. There would be no Stanley Cup in Montreal this season.