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Charlie Hodge helped make NHL All-Star history

In 1967, Canadiens goalie was part of tandem that combined for game's only shutout

by Dave Stubbs @Dave_Stubbs / Columnist

LOS ANGELES -- The late Charlie Hodge was a part of NHL All-Star Game history 50 years ago this month, but it wasn't until 2006 that he even realized it.

Hodge and Gary Bauman were two of four goaltenders for the Montreal Canadiens in the NHL's final season before expansion, sharing the net with veteran Gump Worsley and rookie Rogie Vachon.

With Vachon in the minors, still two months from making his League debut, and Worsley recovering from a surgically repaired knee, Canadiens coach Toe Blake turned to Hodge and Bauman for the 20th NHL All-Star Game on Jan. 18, 1967.

Before a Montreal Forum crowd of 14,284, Hodge made 14 saves in the first period and nine in the third, and Bauman stopped all 10 shots he saw in the second, fending off three All-Star power plays. They combined to help the defending Stanley Cup-champion Canadiens to a 3-0 victory against a stacked team coached by Sid Abel of the Detroit Red Wings.

It would be the first, and still the only, three-period, 60-minute shutout in All-Star Game history, a fact Hodge knew only upon reading the obituary of Bauman, who lost his battle with cancer in 2006.

The pair's historic shutout came in the NHL's first midseason All-Star Game. Before that, the game had been played just before the start of the regular season and was an often highly competitive match between a team of All-Stars and the defending Stanley Cup champion.

Hodge had played more than 200 NHL games, had his name engraved on the Stanley Cup six times and earned the Vezina Trophy twice; once individually, the other shared with Worsley. Bauman, meanwhile, had made his NHL debut four nights earlier.

It would be the final All-Star Game played before the NHL expanded from six to 12 teams for the 1967-68 season, and was beamed "live and in living color," one newspaper reported, to the United States on a network of some 70 independent stations cobbled together by Madison Square Garden-RKO General Sports Production. In Canada, the Wednesday night game from the Montreal Forum was telecast on CTV.

The game itself wound up being almost a sidebar to the enormous business news of the day, with the NHL's Board of Governors announcing the fine print of expansion and a U.S. television deal with CBS. Six new teams were to pay fees of $2 million each to join the League; the network was to pay $3.6 million over three years to carry a number of regular-season Sunday afternoon games, the Stanley Cup Playoffs and the All-Star Game.

Further, a players' union was taking shape; the imminent arrival of the NHL Players Association would soon change the face of hockey.

With Worsley out and legendary captain Jean Beliveau sidelined with an eye injury, the Canadiens would have four future Hall of Famers in their lineup -- defenseman Jacques Laperriere and forwards Yvan Cournoyer, Henri Richard and Dick Duff -- to face an All-Star team that featured a dozen.

"With this roster," Abel joked before the game, "I've got a pretty good chance."

And he should have, until he ran into two sizzling goaltenders who shared the Canadiens net and an opportunistic home team that took 30 shots, putting two pucks past Glenn Hall and another behind Ed Giacomin, two future Hall of Fame goaltenders.

John Ferguson scored two goals and Henri Richard scored the other for Montreal. Richard was named the first star, probably because Ferguson had earned one of the game's three minor penalties for slugging All-Star Norm Ullman.

It was the third and final All-Star Game for Hodge, who was claimed by the new Oakland Seals in the NHL Expansion Draft four months later.

Hodge had shared the net with Hall in his first All-Star Game, in 1964 against Cup-champion Toronto. The All-Stars' first goal in their 3-2 loss at Maple Leaf Gardens: Beliveau, assisted by linemates Gordie Howe and Bobby Hull.

Hodge registered another first that night: He was tagged for two minutes by referee John Ashley for having intentionally frozen the puck; it was the first time in All-Star Game history a goalie had been penalized.

His second, at the Forum in 1965, was notable for the bizarre goalie rotation used by Toe Blake: Hodge and Worsley were switched roughly every five minutes by their coach during the Canadiens' 5-2 loss.

In three All-Star Games, Hodge had a goals-against average of 3.60. Good luck figuring out his save percentage with the 1965 revolving-door rotation with Worsley.

"What I mostly recall about the game in my day was its intensity," said Hodge, who died last April 16 at age 82 after a lengthy illness. "The players who didn't win the Cup were ticked off about it all summer, and the Cup champion was determined to win.

"It was still an exhibition game, but there was a little more to it than there is now. The pride today is probably a little more of an individual thing. Back then, it was for the team."

Hodge said he took no special pride in the milestone shutout he shared with Bauman, whose 20 minutes in goal that night would be his only All-Star Game action. He just shrugged off his starring role in hockey history, a wonderful curmudgeon to his final breath.

They put boards over the Forum ice at the final siren in 1967, assembling a banked track to welcome its second All-Star team in as many nights.

Twenty-four hours later, the world champion San Francisco Bay Bombers would take on the International Roller Derby League All-Stars, and this one wouldn't be a shutout. The Bombers fell 29-28 in double overtime on a point scored by Ronnie Robinson, a future Roller Derby Hall of Famer and son of a boxing legend named Sugar Ray.

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