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On This Date in Sports March 26, 1917: Seattle Stanley

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The Seattle Metropolitans become the first team from the United States to win Stanley Cup. The Metropolitans, champions of the PCHA, defeat the NHA Champion Montreal Canadiens, best of five series, three games to one. The series was played at the Seattle Ice Arena, with Montreal winning the first game and Seattle winning the next three games to win the cup, clinching hockey’s holy grail with a 9-1 win in the finale.

The Stanley Cup, which was created in 1893, became the ultimate challenge between Eastern Hockey and Wester Hockey in 1915, where it was awarded to the winner of a championship series between the champions of the Pacific Coast Hockey Association and National Hockey Association. Teams from the west played a brand of hockey that allowed six skaters on the ice, while the east played the familiar five plus the goalie. NHA rules did not permit passing, while PCHA rules did not allow player substitution. While the NHA did not have an American presence, the PCHA had two major teams below the 49th parallel. The Seattle Metropolitans and the Portland Rosebuds.

The Vancouver Millionaires won the first PCHA-NHA Stanley Cup showdown in 1915, beating the Ottawa Senators, while the Montreal Canadiens won in 1916, beating the Portland Rosebuds. The series was played in the winning team’s arena in both instances. Montreal looking to hold on to the Stanley Cup, had to go West in 1917, playing best-of-five series at the Seattle Ice Arena.

Though the best-of-five series was played entirely in Seattle, the series alternated between PCHA and NHA rules, with games two and four being played under NHA rules, the rules did not seem to matter for the Canadiens coached by George Kennedy in Game 1, winning 8-4 as Didier Pitre scored four goals. The Mets answered with a 6-1 win in Game 2, as Frank Foyston had a hat trick. Game 3 would be the tightest game of the series as the Metropolitans, coached by Pete Muldoon, took an early lead on a goal by Bernie Morris. After that, it became a showdown between goalies Georges Vezina of Montreal and Seattle’s Hap Holmes. In the third period, the Metropolitans pulled away with a goal from Foyston, with Morris scoring twice to complete the hat trick. The Canadiens would score late, as the Metropolitans took control of the series with a 4-1 win.

In Game 4, the Canadiens had the advantage playing under NHA rules as they hoped to force a fifth game. However, it was clear early that it was not to be for Montreal, as Bernie Morris gave the Metropolitans an early lead. It would be just the beginning for Seattle as they dominated the Canadiens on both sides of the ice, eventually building a 7-0 lead. The Mets would win the game 9-1 to capture the Stanley Cup.

The NHA would dissolve and evolve into the National Hockey League, with the Stanley Cup challenge continuing over the next decade. The Montreal Canadiens and Seattle Metropolitans would meet in a Stanley Cup rematch in 1919. The series was tied two games apiece when a powerful flu epidemic caused the cancellation of the final game, claiming the life of Montreal defenseman Joe Hall.

The PCHA would get a challenge from the West Coast Hockey League, with the Victoria Cougars of the WCHL becoming the last team not from the NHL to win the Stanley Cup in 1925, which became the exclusive property the NHL in 1927. The NHL added an expansion team to Seattle in 2021. The Kraken honored the Metropolitans' legacy by raising a banner for the 1917 Stanley Cup Champions, the first team in the United States to win the Stanley Cup.