Excitement Builds - 1913 Stanley Cup Challenge
As the date of the first game was coming close, excitement began to increase. The Sydney Steel plant became a hotbed for gambling on the games, with the supporters betting on the score of the game rather than the outcome, not wanting to bet against their beloved Millionaires. Those who were not opposed to betting on the outcome had the odds at three to one in Quebec's favor. When the players were questioned about their chances against the powerful Quebec team, they answered with what appears to be a scripted response of "we will do our very best, what more can a man do". A group of fans left Sydney on Wednesday, March the 5th to meet up with the Millionaires as they left Halifax and headed west toward Quebec in their private car. Even the papers in Ontario were getting word from the east of the excitement being generated by a Nova Scotia team getting a shot at the Stanley Cup. The Ottawa Citizen stated that "if Sydney should win the cup tonight, the challengers would need a machine gun, the MacNamaras and a battery of infantry to get it away from the Nova Scotia burg." The MacNamara brothers were two very large defensive players known for their style of rugged play.
The Upper Canadian press were eagerly awaiting the Millionaires and their reputation had proceeded them. The Ottawa Free Press stated that "the Maritime Champions who play Quebec for the cup are there with the wallop" most likely referring to the reputation of the Sydney club's rough play that had graced several Upper Canadian newspapers. The papers were also giving Sydney a fair chance of competing with the power-house defending Stanley Cup champ Bulldogs. The Millionaires arrived in the city on March 6th with what the Quebec Daily Telegraph described as a "large number of supporters". Directly from the train, the Millionaires headed to the St. Louis Hotel in historic Quebec city and settled into their rooms. After resting up in the morning, the team was given some practice time at the Quebec Arena in the afternoon. The excitement to play for the Stanley Cup was heightened by the fact that the Stanley Cup was on display along with the NHA championship O'Brien trophy in the window of the Holt Renfrew Company just a few short blocks from their hotel.
On March 8th, the city of Sydney was buzzing with the anticipation of the first game of the two game series. The Western Union reports were scheduled to be arriving from the game to various destinations around the city. Crowds would be gathering at local establishments such as Kennedy's Cigar store to get updates on the game as it was played. The Millionaire fans knew that their team was in tough, playing against future Hockey Hall of Famers Joe Hall, Joe Malone, Tommy Smith, Rusty Crawford and goalie Paddy Moran. The Quebec Bulldogs had easily won the National Hockey Association championship capturing the O'Brien Cup with a record of 16 and 4 and were looking to retain the Stanley Cup for the second straight season.