Journalism professor Randy Boswell has resolved the longstanding uncertainty about where the NHL’s first game was played and who scored the first NHL goal.

The tell-tale advertisement from Montreal's Le Canada, indicating an 8:15 p.m. start time for the NHL's first game on Dec. 19, 1917.

The tell-tale advertisement from Montreal’s Le Canada, indicating an 8:15 p.m. start time for the NHL’s first game on Dec. 19, 1917.

Hockey historians had been stumped on the question because the NHL was launched on the night of Dec. 19, 1917 with two games — one in Ottawa and one in Montreal.

The game in Ottawa between the hometown club and the Montreal Canadiens started at 8:30 p.m. But the start time of the Montreal game between Toronto and the host Montreal Wanderers had remained unknown until Boswell found a game-day advertisement in a digitized version of Le Canada — a Montreal daily that disappeared decades ago — indicating an 8:15 p.m. start time.

The discovery not only clinched Montreal’s claim to the first NHL puck-drop, it also confirmed that the league’s first goal was scored by Wanderers defenceman Dave Ritchie, not Canadiens star Joe Malone, who opened the scoring in Ottawa.

Boswell’s story about the discovery, including an endorsement of his findings from the Society for International Hockey Research, was published April 16 by CBC News.

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