Charles H. Scherza
Born: February 15, 1923 (Brandon, Manitoba)
Died: March 16, 2014 (Pawtucket, Rhode Island)
Member: Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame
Chuck Scherza joined the Boston Bruins at age 20 at the start of the 1943-44, a time when NHL rosters were thinned by players doing war service. After just nine games, the centre was sold to the rival New York Rangers, a team desperate for talent.
A hard-nosed bruiser, the 5-foot-10, 190-pound forward was a welcome addition to the Rangers, who lost most of their stars to the armed forces. The Rangers began the season 0-14-1 before recording the first win of the season, 6-4, against the Bruins at Madison Square Garden. Scherza scored twice in the game, but on the second goal his momentum carried him into the goal post. He suffered a collapsed lung and two fractured ribs and spent the night at St. Clare’s Hospital, his season over.
He returned to the Rangers in 1944-45, but managed to score just twice in 22 games and spent much of the season with the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League.
His career NHL totals included six goals and six assists in 36 games.
Born in Brandon, Man., Scherza grew up listening to Foster Hewitt broadcasts on the family radio. He joined the Regina Abbots junior team at age 18. He skated with the Oshawa (Ont.) Generals the following season, scoring seven goals in 11 Memorial Cup playoff games as the Generals lost the trophy to the Winnipeg Rangers in six games.
After two partial seasons in the NHL, Scherza joined the Providence Reds before the start of the 1945-46 season. He led the AHL in penalty minutes with 81. The centre spent a decade with the Reds, helping them win the Calder Cup championship trophy in 1949. He also served as captain for five seasons.
The centre set several league marks in his time in Providence, including fastest two goals (six seconds) as well as an ironman streak (309 games). (The fastest two goals was bested in 1952 when Norm Corcoran of Hershey scored twice in five seconds, while Bill Needham surpassed the consecutives games streak in 1961.) Scherza’s most productive season came in 1947-48, when he scored 18 goals while registering 65 assists.
After a season with the Trois-Rivieres Lions of the Quebec Hockey League, the centre joined the North Bay Trappers. He was a playing coach in his third season with the Trappers when a stick wielded by a player with the Kitchener-Waterloo Dutchmnan struck him in the face. His left eye was removed in an operation, ending his playing career. The Trappers, a senior team, then flew to Providence for an exhibition game against Scherza’s old team, raising about $4,000 for the stricken player.
Scherza later worked as a linesman in the AHL. He was also employed by a distribution company. He leaves a daughter, three sons, nine grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren. He was predeceased by a son and by his wife, the former Anne Szuszwal.