Early in the 1908 season, the Montreal Wanderers were forced to play the Ottawa Victorias in a two-game, total-goal series. The Victorias had finished third in the FAHL the previous season, but were named champions when the Montagnards and Cornwall both withdrew from the league. Despite missing numerous players from the previous season and not truly winning the championship, the Trustees allowed the challenge to stand. Ernie Russell would score 10 goals during the two games for the Wanderers as they easily handled their opposition by scores of 9-3 and 13-1.
Three days after defending their ECAHA championship, the Wanderers would face the Manitoba Hockey League champion, Winnipeg Maple Leafs; again in a two-game, total-goal series. Again the Wanderers dominated the opposition and for the first time in Stanley Cup play, every player for the winning team scored a goal (excluding the goaltender) as they skated to a 11-5 victory in game one. Montreal defended their title with an uninspired 9-3 win during game two.
What proved to be the Wanderers biggest challenge of the season, came from the Toronto Maple Leafs of the newly former Ontario Professional Hockey League. The one-game sudden death match-up was a seesaw affair that had the score tied on four separate occasions. The Wanderers would prevail, 6-4, on two late goals by Ernie Johnson and Bruce Stuart (who replaced an injured Ernie Russell).
Prior to the beginning of the 1908-09 season, the Cup Trustees accepted a challenge from the Alberta Hockey League champion Edmonton Eskimos, who had defeated the Manitoba Hockey League champions the previous spring. The Eskimos traveled East, bringing an all-time high of six ringers to play against the champions. Harry Smith led the way for the Wanderers, scoring five times during an easy 7-3 victory. Two Edmonton players were put back in the Eskimos lineup for game two and proved to be the difference, as the group recording five of Edmonton's seven goals during a 7-6 victory. Although a win, it wasn't quite enough and the Wanderers claimed a 13-10 total goals victory to defend the title.
Click here to view larger image.