(Image of Cleghorn brothers via Wikimedia Commons)
The Cleghorn brothers may not have been twins, but they were a matching set. Sprague, the defenseman, was born in 1890 and Odie, the center/right wing, in 1891. They both joined the NHL in 1918 and played with the league for ten seasons – though Odie only played in 182 games to Sprague’s 259. Odie played with the Montreal Canadiens from the start, while Sprague’s path to the Canadiens was more complicated. After playing with the Ottawa Senators for his first two seasons, the NHL tried to reassign Sprague so that he eventually played most of the 1920-21 season with the Toronto St. Patricks. Although he then signed with Ottawa again as a free agent, the NHL again transferred his rights to the Hamilton Tigers, and Sprague again refused to report. He was sold to Montreal, where he became captain of the Canadiens.
Both Cleghorn brothers played for Montreal on January 14, 1922 before a crowd of 4,000 at the Mount Royal Arena. The visiting Tigers could not seem to stop them. At four minutes into the game, Sprague took the puck and skated up the ice alone for the first goal. Although he repeated his play a minute later, instead of scoring, he followed “the puck around the net, he passed to Odie, who scored.” Their goals were followed by a Hamilton goal and a third Montreal goal.
Then, only 40 seconds into the second frame, Sprague scored again by “caging a shot which he took from his own hard rebound from the boards.” The Tigers scored again before, what the Montreal Gazette called, the “most spectacular piece of hockey of the night.” Sprague took “a loose puck from centre ice through the entire Hamilton team to score.” Odie again followed his brother’s lead by scoring the next goal. Both teams scored one last time that period.
The Cleghorn boys did not slow down in the final period. For the third time that game, Sprague opened the scoring – even sooner than before. And for the third time, Odie followed up his brother’s goal with one of his own, which was assisted by Sprague. After another Hamilton goal, Odie took up “a loose puck, shot, easily beating [Tigers goalie] Lockhart.” The Tigers finished the game with two more goals, but the damage by the Cleghorn brothers had already been done.
Montreal won 10-6. Each Cleghorn brother had four goals, and Sprague had two assists on top of that. It was only the second of a career total of two hat tricks for Sprague and the seventh of nine for Odie. This was the first time brothers playing on the same NHL team scored four goals each in the same game.
The Cleghorn brothers remained with the Canadiens until they had won the Stanley Cup in 1924 and 1925. Odie had already won with them back in 1919, and Sprague won with Ottawa in 1920. From 1925 to 1928, Sprague played for the Boston Bruins while Odie played for the Pittsburgh Pirates. As a forward, Odie had more goals (94 to Sprague’s 83), but Sprague had more assists (60 to Odie’s 35). In the end, Sprague’s additional 77 games only amounted to 14 extra points over Odie. Still, Sprague was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1958, two years after the brothers died within days of each other. As the Montreal Gazette proclaimed in the recap of the four-goals-each game, “Sprague Cleghorn was Outstanding Figure of Game,” and “rivaling Sprague for individual honors” was Odie Cleghorn.
- “Hamilton Proved Easy for Locals in N.H.L. Fixture,” Montreal Gazette, 16 Jan. 1922, p. 16.