Custom Search

Does anyone remember Bruce Gamble’s mid-'60s shutout streak?

I remember when I was maybe 12 years old in the mid-1960s, that the Maple Leafs had injury problems in goal (Johnny Bower and Terry Sawchuk were getting old at the time) and brought in Bruce Gamble to play a number of games.

Gamble (pictured above in late-1960s game-action at the Gardens in a wonderful Harold Barkley photo) went on to play off and on with Toronto until he was traded in the Bernie Parent-Mike Walton deal part-way through the 1970-’71 season.  In fact, Gamble was the main man between the pipes during the 1968-’69 and 1969-’70 seasons, with Bower playing less and less.

But in the earlier time that I’m referring to, I didn’t know much about Gamble at that point, though I remembered that he had played a bit with the Boston Bruins earlier in that decade.

I’ve posted about Gamble  (ckick on his name to read the earlier story) a bit in the past.  He was a competitive guy who gave everything he had for the Leafs, and played without a mask for most of the time he played with Toronto.  I well remember the time he got split open (forehead) in Boston on a shot by Freddie Stanfield or one of the other big bombers from Boston.

In any event, I recall that he had what seemed like (at least as a youngster) this amazing streak of shutouts, before Montreal ended that abruptly one night.

I just looked it up to see exactly what year it was, and it was indeed 1965-’66, when I was 12.   But does anyone recall how long the streak of shutouts was, exactly?


  1. It was quite the streak.

    Gamble is always an interesting story to me in Leafs histoy.

    His career was going nowhere for a time. In fact, he was out of hockey after 63/64 under the over watchfull eye of Eddie Shore (5-12-3, 3.90 with Springfield).

    So the Leafs rescued him in 65/66, and with Simmons and Cheevers gone, Millar and Perreault in the minors for good, Gamble was the man the Leafs turned to despite a lossing record (21-24-9) with Tulsa (CHL) that year.

    What he did was truly remarkable. Called up by the Leafs in early March, he played against the Habs on the 2nd of that month. That's the game the Leafs tied the Habs and Orlando Kurtenbach bloodied Terry Harper. Good goaltending duel.

    Then the floodgates that the Leafs opponents had come in were suddenly stopped.

    Gamble went out the next day, in Montreal and surprised everyone by shutting out the Habs. Then the Hawks were blanked, and Gamble received a bottle of champagne from CKEY for stopping Bobby Hull from getting goal #51.

    The Bruins sort of stopped the streak when McKenzie scored @ 16:18 of the second period of a March 6th game, but the Leafs won 5-3 anyway.

    Then Gamble continued his mastery of Leaf opponents by shutting out the Wings 1-0 on March 9, 1966 (The Big M scoring the game's only goal) and continuing with still another shutout (6-0) over the Bruins in the very next game.

    Then on March 13, 1966, the Hawks were at home against the Leafs. The day before, Hull had finally potted his 51st goal against the Rangers. For one period, Gamble stopped him (and the rest of the Hawks), but in the second period (11:58 to be exact), Hull fired in goal #52.

    To be fair, Gamble held them in there, and the Leafs even tied it in the third on a goal by Pulford. But then...

    CHI, Hay 16 (Jarrett, Nesterenko) (EV) 8:39

    CHI, Mikita 26 (Wharram, Mohns) (EV) 12:05

    CHI, Hay 17 (Nesterenko, Angotti) (EV) 13:43

    CHI, Esposito 24 (Pilote) (EV) 17:26

    Then a 7-2 loss to Montreal convinced Imlach that the jig is up, for now. Bower returned and Gambled watched helplessly for the next seven games. But then...

    ...came some strange games.

    Against the Rangers, April 2 (Does something wild always happen on April 2nd to the Leafs? Why not the day before?)

    Against the Rangers, Sawchuck and Gamble alternated in goal all game long!

    Can you top that? YES!

    The last game of the season (against Detroit) saw Bower start in goal and then suddenly get hit with the "flu". So Sawchuck took over in the second period, only to give way to Gamble in the third as Bower coached! Imlach had to watch the rest of the game from the stands!

    Brilliant move Punch! What better way to get them ALL ready for the playoffs!

    Through it all, Gamble played so well. Although he appeared in only 10 games he won 5, tied 3 and posted 4 shutouts to tie Glenn Hall for second in the league.

    As for the streak? Lets see.

    Two straight shutouts plus the end of the Habs game till the middle of the Cubs game, 171:54, I think.

    Then, the last 51 seconds of the Boston game, two more shutouts till 11:58 of the second against the Hawks, that's 132:49.

  2. Thanks Scott! I was young at the time and recall that Gamble seemed to have this great string of games, but could not remember all the details. Thanks for filling in the blanks!

  3. Check out the recent book about Bruce called Gamble in Goal available at