The Disappearance Of Bill Barilko: Defining Moments In Leaf History, No. 6

Dave McCarthyCorrespondent IJune 20, 2008

It was 1951. The Maple Leafs were locked in a tight overtime in game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final. At the 2:53 mark of the first overtime period, rising defense star Bill Barilko jumped over the blueline and took a pass from Howie Meeker. He walked in on goal and drilled a shot over the shoulder of Montreal netminder Gerry McNeil, winning the Leafs the 1951 Stanley Cup.

That summer, Barilko and a friend embarked on a fishing trip. It would mark the last time either of them would ever be seen again. Flying over the brush in Northern Ontario, his single engine plane, the Fairchild 24, vanished between Rupert House and Timmins, Ontario.

Despite frantic search efforts, no trace of the wreckage was found until June 7, 1962, 11 years after his disappearance. Less than eight weeks earlier, the Maple Leafs had won their first Stanley Cup since Barilko’s disappearance, bringing an eerie end to a terrible tragedy.