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History 'n Hockey: Bridge collapse ends the honeymoon

On this day in Canadian history, in 1938, the Honeymoon Bridge over the Niagara River collapsed. Originally opened in 1897, it spanned 840 feet, making it one of the largest bridges in the world at that time.
The roaring majesty of Niagara Falls. Photo Niagara Tourism
On this day in Canadian history, in 1938, the Honeymoon Bridge over the Niagara River collapsed. Originally opened in 1897, it spanned 840 feet, making it one of the largest bridges in the world at that time.

Despite its beautiful arch, the Honeymoon Bridge had an inherent structural flaw. Its girders were only a few feet above water level. This turned out to be an ongoing problem with the structure, one that ultimately culminated with its demise in 1938.

Toronto Maple Leafs at Tampa Bay Lightning, 7:00PM
2015-16 Season Records: TOR 17-21-9 (8th in the Atlantic); TBL 26-18-4 (2nd in the Atlantic)
Leading Scorers: Leo Komarov (16G, 15A); Nikita Kucherov (20G, 21A)

Tonight’s matchups are the final games before the NHL’s All-Star break. Players who haven’t been selected for this year’s tournament will have five days off before the regular season resumes on Tuesday.

You can imagine that there could be quite a few Leafs hanging around in Florida after the game, opting to soak up some sun during their respite. The lone Toronto player who won’t be able to catch some rays or hit the links will be Leo Komarov. He will be heading to Nashville to serve as the Leafs All-Star representative.

While some snickered when it was announced that Komarov was selected, he has had quite the season and has excelled under new head coach Mike Babcock. As a result, Komarov has found himself in a position to exceed offensively this year. Before November ended, he had already matched his NHL season high in goals, accomplishing the feat in just 23 games. He’s on pace to pot 28 this season, and with James van Riemsdyk on the shelf, Komarov could be in line to lead the club in goal scoring.

Prediction: Lightning by 2

Nashville Predators at Calgary Flames, 9:30PM
2015-16 Season Records: NSH 23-18-8 (6th in the Central); CGY 21-23-3 (6th in the Pacific)
Leading Scorers: Ryan Johansen (9G, 26A); Johnny Gaudreau (20G, 26A)

When the Predators roll into the Scotiabank Saddledome it is usually a high-scoring affair. In their last four meetings in Calgary, the two teams have combined for 35 goals in regulation. Moreover, the last time Nashville picked up a win in southern Alberta — on March 21, 2014 — it was a good old-fashioned barn burner.

In that game, the Predators edged the Flames 6-5 in regulation with neither team registering more than 29 shots on goal — not a great night to have been a goaltender in Calgary.

We can’t necessarily expect another high-flying offensive spectacle, as both the Predators and the Flames are in the middle of the pack when it comes to goals per game, sitting at 2.55 and 2.64 respectively.

So what can we expect? For starters, Calgary will continue to be a problem for visiting teams, they are 14-9-0 at home this season and will have the raucous “C of Red” behind them.

On the other side of the ice, look for Ryan Johansen to continue making his mark with Nashville. Recently acquired from Columbus in a one-for-one trade, he has been faring well with the Predators, picking up 9 points in his first nine games.

Prediction: Flames by 1

Last Minute of Play

Following a bizarre set of weather conditions, which included a five-day thaw in January 1938 and high winds, the Honeymoon Bridge was hit with an onslaught of floating ice. The bridge bore the brunt of this on the Jan. 25, twisting and groaning against the pressure of the ice.

Traffic was suspended and a crowd began gathering to see what would become of the structure. By the afternoon of Jan. 27, the ice had pushed the bridge off of its abutments, sending it crashing into the reservoir below. The bridge was later cut into sections using dynamite and by April 1938, with the onset of spring thaw, all of the steel and wooden wreckage had sunk to the bottom of the Niagara River.

The story of this ill-fated bridge is one that certainly resonates with Northwestern Ontarians at the moment. Earlier this month, part of the Nipigon River bridge split, temporarily cutting the country in half by severing the Trans-Canada Highway.

It’s now believed that there may have been an issue with the bolts that were used to fasten the deck. Traffic continues to be reduced to one lane and repairs are not expected to be completed until the end of February.

The $100-million infrastructure project has been heralded as the province’s first cable-stayed bridge. But with residents and commerce in the northwest paying the price at the moment, it’s safe to say that the honeymoon with the Nipigon River Bridge has been put on hiatus.

Prediction Record: 16-10

Mike Commito is a Canadian historian and avid hockey fan. Follow him on Twitter @mikecommito.


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