Esso Hockey since 1936Legends Of Hockey
Esso Hockey since 1936
Holmes, Hap

Holmes, Hap

One of the preeminent netminders of his era, Harry "Hap" Holmes excelled in all five of the top pro leagues from 1912 to 1928. He made an impact in the National Hockey Association, Pacific Coast Hockey Association, Western Canada Hockey League, Western Hockey League and National Hockey League. A sterling playoff performer, Holmes backstopped two Stanley Cup wins in Toronto and one each in Seattle and Victoria. He was the leading goalie six times in the Pacific Coast Hockey Association/Western Canada Hockey League when such rivals as Hugh Lehman and George Hainsworth were still on the ice. In Stanley Cup play, he out-dueled such legends as Georges Vezina and Clint Benedict.

Before turning pro, the native of Aurora, Ontario, played with the Toronto-based Canoe Club, Parkdale Canoe Club and Tecumsehs. He debuted in the NHA with the Toronto Blueshirts in 1912-13 and enjoyed an outstanding sophomore year by leading the league in wins and helping the club become the first Toronto team to win the Stanley Cup.

Early in the 1915-16 season, he joined the Seattle Metropolitans with former Toronto mates Jack Walker and Frank Foyston. Once again Holmes was a part of history when he backstopped the Metropolitans to the first Stanley Cup won by a U.S.-based outfit. Holmes continued his knack of being in the right place at the right time when he was loaned to the Toronto Arenas in January 1918; he helped the club win the Stanley Cup in the inaugural NHL season.

Holmes returned to Seattle for the 1918-19 season and remained for more than five years. In his first year back, he was present during the tragic final series against the Canadiens that was called off due to the global influenza epidemic. The fourth game of the series was arguably his finest performance. Following a scoreless 60 minutes of regulation time and 20 minutes of overtime, referee Mickey Ion declared the game a draw.

Holmes ventured east again with Seattle in 1920 to challenge Ottawa for the Stanley Cup. Despite his brilliance, the westerners lost a close series to the powerhouse Senators. He led the PCHA in shutouts four times and in wins on two occasions. He enjoyed two successful years with the Victoria Cougars from 1924 to 1926, leading the WCHL/WHL in his goals-against average.

In 1924-25, his brilliance led Victoria past the Saskatoon Sheiks in the WCHL playoffs. In the Stanley Cup championship match with the Montreal Canadiens, Holmes starred along with Jack Walker and Frank Frederickson as Victoria became the last non-NHL team to win the Stanley Cup. The heroic netminder became the first goalie to win the Cup with four different franchises. That year he also attained his own personal triumph over Habs netminder Georges Vezina, against whom he'd waged the memorable but undecided battle in the 1919 championship series.

Following the disbanding of the WHL in 1926, players headed to the enlarged NHL. The expansion Detroit Cougars were the benefactors of Holmes' last two years as an active player. He recorded 17 shutouts in two seasons and proved to be a veteran workhorse who helped give the young NHL side some confidence.

He was posthumously elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1972.

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