Categories Archives: Inaugural Inductees

Burton Russell

Kentville, N.S.

Burton Russell (1934 -)

 

As a young boy growing up in Kentville, N.S. Burton Russell watched and loved sports of all types, especially baseball, having watched the Kentville Wildcats and Middleton teams of the Central League which later joined with the Halifax Defense League to form the celebrated H&D League. That caught Burton’s interest, a man who has published eleven (11) books on various sports and athletes over some forty (40) years. His writings and collection of articles and memorabilia have been a source of information for many over the years and he is often sought out as a credible expert on sport, not only in the province, but throughout the Maritimes.

The retired teacher is a former coach in various sports, having received a NSSAF citation for his contributions, and is a regular attendee at sporting events within the Valley region. Last December 11th, in the midst of receiving an unbelievable number of e-mails, cards, calls and visits from former Kings County Academy students and provincial athletes scattered across the province, he celebrated his 80th birthday. He is currently penning his 12th book.

He is a member of the Sport Hall of Fame at Acadia University, his alma mater, served on the selection committees of the Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame and Acadia University for many years, and has been the statistician for the N.S. Senior Baseball League (NSBBL) for over twenty-seven (27) years in 2015.

According to Burton, among his most memorable moments was twice being named Coach of the Year in the Annapolis Valley High School Hockey League and being the recipient of the prestigious Johnny MacAskill Award. Especially memorable was being named Honorary Chairman of the National Junior Baseball Championship in 2013

In many ways, Burton has become the premiere sports historian for Nova Scotia.

 

 

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    Danny Gallivan

    Sydney, N.S.

    Danny Gallivan (1917-1993)

     

    Born in the Whitney Pier district of Sydney, N.S., Danny Gallivan would be become associated as much with the Montreal Canadiens as any of its players. From 1952 until his retirement in 1984 he was the “voice of the Montreal Canadiens”. He would broadcast over 1,900 regular season and playoff games and call games in sixteen of the Habs’ Stanley Cup championships.

     

    After an arm injury cut short a baseball career with the New York Giants, he graduated from St. Francis Xavier University in 1942. He joined CJFX radio soon after and began broadcasting games in the APC League. He moved to Halifax in 1946 as sports director of CHNS and broadcast the Halifax St. Mary’s junior hockey games. In 1950 he replaced the ailing Doug Smith to call his first Canadiens’ game and became the team’s permanent announcer in 1952.

     

    It was his unique and colourful style for which he became famous: Plante would make “a scintillating save” but often faced “a paucity of shots”; Harvey would “feather a pass to the streaking Rocket”; Ferguson’s ”pugilistic endeavours” would take him to the “box of punition”; Captain Beliveau will “take up the oratorical cudgel of his confreres”; Geoffrion’s “cannonading drive” would sometimes be “nowhere near the net”; Lemaire would “feather a pass” to Lefleur who would “successfully negotiate contact”; Robinson would “tip-toe out of his own zone”; Dryden would make “a save in rapier-like fashion”: Awrey would have the puck caught up in his “paraphernalia”; Savard would beat his man with his “patented spinerama”.

     

    He was selected to the Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame in 1980, the Canadian Sport Hall of Fame in 1989, and received an honorary doctorate from his alma mater in 1985.

     

     

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      Leo Woods

      Halifax, N.S.

      Leo Woods (1918-1974)

      Leo Woods, one of Nova Scotia’s premier ballplayers, had a career that spanned 28 years combined in senior baseball/softball stretching from 1935 to 1963. Fellow players, competitors, fans, sportscasters and sports historians alike often commented: ”Leo was one of the finest baseball/softball performers ever to display his talents in these parts”. Throughout his softball career Leo played mostly Senior “A” calibre ball, while his baseball career spanned 12 years, playing in the Halifax Defense League from 1941 to 1945 and in the highly competitive Halifax and District League from 1946 to 1951, all the while playing against many talented imports from the United States collegiate and minor-pro ranks, many of whom went on to play in the major leagues. During his five years in the H&D, Leo played in three All-Star games and batted in the top 10 three times against a select group of pitchers. He was also in third place as of August 1, 1951 for a fourth time, batting .329, but records were incomplete for the full season.

      However, Leo’s first and foremost love was softball (called fastball today). At the early age of 17, he began playing senior baseball, alternating between softball and baseball, often playing both games on a single day. Shoestring catches were his trademarks playing baseball, while in softball, at that time, outfielders made catches with their bare hands. In addition to being an excellent fielder, Leo was a superb softball pitcher. At the age of 18, he pitched his first no-hitter against the North End All-Stars; and in 1942, playing against the Navy, he pitched a second-career no hitter. Limited research revealed that Leo also pitched nine more games limiting opponents to 4 hits or less. In 1940, Halifax Shipyards won it’s first Maritime title with Leo pitching a three-hitter in an 11-4 win against Liverpool in Provincial playoffs and a lopsided win against Moncton in the first game for the Maritime title.

      Still, Leo was best known for his hitting ability. While playing in the talent-laden Defense League between 1941 and 1945, Leo combined for an impressive .311 batting average in regular league and playoff action. This league consisted of many Maritime legends and professional-level talent that played for the service-based clubs. Playing in the professional class H&D league, Leo compiled a very respectable .283 average based on 315 hits in 1113 plate appearances between 1945 and 1951. As noted previously, he consistently batted in the top ten of that league.

      Records indicate that Leo Woods was an even better hitter in fastball. In 1940, the Halifax Shipyards won their first Maritime championship, with Leo batting 5 for 11 with a .455 batting average in that series. In the 1942 playoffs, his batting average was .391. In 1946 and 1947, Leo was a member of the Halifax Zwickers* softball team when they won back-to-back Maritime championships. During these playoffs years, Leo batted an average of .397 and .343 respectively. In 1948, with Keith Stags, he won a third consecutive Maritime senior softball title. Again Leo led the way with a .386 batting average in the playoffs. In 1956, at the age of 38, Leo won the Halifax Senior “A” Batting Championship title with a .477 average.

      Throughout his long successful career, Leo played on 18 city championship teams, won 6 Nova Scotia titles, and played on 5 teams that won Maritime softball crowns.

      *The Halifax Zwickers’ team was also among the 19 legacy inductions in 2014. 

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        Ron Turcotte

        Grand Falls, N.B.

        Ron Turcotte aboard Secretariat at Winner’s Post-Parade at Preakness in 1973

         

        Ron Turcotte, OC, began his career in Toronto with E. P. Taylor‘s Windfields Farm in 1959, and he was soon wearing the silks and winning races. As an apprentice jockey he rode Northern Dancer to his first victory and gained gained prominence with his victory aboard Tom Rolfe in the 1965 Preakness Stakes.

        Turcotte began working with Canadian trainer Lucien Laurin at the racetrack in Laurel, Maryland; and in 1972 he rode Riva Ridge to victory in the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes. Ron became internationally famous in 1973 when he rode Secretariat to win the first Triple Crown in 25 years. He was North America’s  leading stakes-winning jockey in 1972 and 1973.

        He became the first jockey to win back-to-back Kentucky Derbys since 1902 and is the only jockey to ever have won five of the six consecutive Triple Crown races. Turcotte’s career ended in 1978 following a fall from his horse, Flag of Leyte Gulf, at the start of a race at Belmont Park that left him a para paraplegic. 

        In 1984 he became the first ever recipient of the Avelino Gomez Memorial Award given annually to the jockey who has made significant contributions to the sport. He was also voted the prestigious George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award that honours a rider whose career and personal conduct exemplifies the very best example of participants in the sport of thoroughbred racing.

        He is the first person from thoroughbred racing ever to be appointed a member of the Order of Canada.

        Turcotte lives in his home town of Grand Falls, New Brunswick, Canada, with his wife Gaëtane and their four daughters. He is an advocate for the disabled and helps to raise funds for disability programs, and is intimately involved with the Permanently Disabled Jockey Fund (PDJF). A well-known survivor of an on-track accident, Turcotte makes appearances at racetracks to raise funds and awareness of the assistance the PDJF provides to fellow injured riders.

        Ron Turcotte was hospitalized on March 9, 2015 following a single-vehicle accident in New Brunswick. The van he was driving flipped after hitting a snow bank with he and a friend both injured in the accident; with Turcotte sustaining fractures to both legs. He had hoped to speak on behalf disabled jockeys this coming May in Lousiville, KY and attend the Induction ceremony for the Maritime Sports Hall of Fame in June. We hope for a speedy recovery and attendance at those events will be possible.

        In the 2010 Disney movie Secretariat, Ron Turcotte’s role as Secretariat‘s jockey is played by Otto Thorwarth, a real life jockey himself. A National Film Board of Canada documentary feature film on Ron Turcotte’s life and career, Secretariat’s Jockey, Ron Turcotte, had its world premiere in Louisville, Kentucky in May 2013. There is also a book about his life by Bill Heller, The Will to Win: Ron Turcotte’s Ride to Glory (1992), Fifth House Publishers ISBN 9781895618082

        He was voted into the New Brunswick Sports Hall of Fame in 1974; inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1979.  He was also inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame the following year in 1980.

         

         

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          Willie O’Ree

          Fredericton, N.B.

          Born Willie Eldon O’Ree, CM, ONB (October 15, 1935, in Fredericton, New Brunswick) is a former professional ice hockey player, perhaps best known for being the first black player in the National Hockey League. O’Ree played for the Boston Bruins. He is often  referred to as the “Jackie Robinson of ice hockey” due to breaking the black colour barrier in the sport, and has stated publicly that he had met Jackie Robinson twice in his younger years. Although a great deal has been made of being the first black in the NHL, in reality he is best known for “… [his] friendship and compassion. Proud and not afraid to show it, his self-confidence only serves to reveal his humility.”

          Midway through his second minor-league season with the Quebec Aces, O’Ree was called up to the Boston Bruins of the NHL to replace an injured player. O’Ree was 95% blind in his right eye due to being hit there by an errant puck two years earlier, which normally would have precluded him from playing in the NHL. However, O’Ree managed to keep it a secret, and made his NHL debut with the Bruins on January 18, 1958, against the Montreal Canadiens, becoming the first black player in league history, appearing in two games that year, and returned in 1961 to play 43 games, playing with Boston centreman Don McKenney and right wing Jerry Toppazzini.  He scored 4 goals and 10 assists in 1961.

          His professional career, which spanned 23 years, took him from Fredericton to Quebec, Kingston, Ottawa, Los Angeles, San Diego, and New Haven retiring in 1979. He has worked for the NHL, both as an ambassador and in the development of youth, and is still working for the NHL in his 80th year.

          O’Ree played over 800 games in the Western Hockey League (WHL) between 1961 and 1974, scoring thirty or more goals five times, with a high of 38 in both 1964–65 and 1968–69. His best year was 1968-69 when he tallied 79 points (38-41) in 70 games. Most of O’Ree’s playing time was with the WHL’s Los Angeles Blades and San Diego Gulls. The latter team retired his number, now hanging from the rafters at the San Diego Sports Arena. O’Ree continued to play in the minor pro leagues until the age of 43. However, his contribution to hockey went well beyond his playing days, working in hockey promotion, youth development and cross-cultural understanding.

          In 1984, he was inducted into the New Brunswick Sport Hall of Fame; in 2008 into the San Diego Hall of Champions, and was honoured by the San Diego State University for his work in “diversity and cross-cultural understanding. That same year the City of Fredericton named the new sports complex after Willie O’Ree. In 2011, he was named to the Hockey Legacy Board by the Boston Sports Museum.

          In 2005, he was inducted into the Order of New Brunswick (ONB); and five years later into the Order of Canada (CM).

           

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            Forbes Kennedy

            Dorchester, N.B./Charlottetown, P.E.I.

            Forbes Kennedy (1935 – )

             

            Though born in Dorchester, N.B., Forbes Kennedy is considered one of Prince Edward Island’s most famous hockey players, having moved there just weeks after his birth. The diminutive forward (5’8”, 150 lbs.) may have been one the smallest players on the ice at any level, but he played the game like a much bigger man, often being described as gritty, tough…

             

            After a stellar junior career beginning at age 16 with the Halifax St. Mary’s and then with the Montreal Junior Canadiens for a further three years, he made the jump to the NHL. He would play with Chicago, Detroit, Boston, Philadelphia, and Toronto from 1956 to 1969.

             

            In 615 games, he accumulated 72 goals, 112 assists, for 184 points, and 1,052 penalty minutes. Upon retirement he returned to Charlottetown, and began a coaching career that took him from Halifax with the Junior Canadian’s in the Maritime Junior Hockey League to the Carolina’s and Virginia, to Newfoundland and back to Charlottetown again.

             

            On January 16, 2012, Kennedy was honoured by the Summerside Western Capitals of the Maritime Junior Hockey League with a “Forbes Kennedy Night” and he was presented with a plaque in recognition his service to the team that he coached from 2004 to 2007.

             

            He was inducted into the P.E.I Sports Hall of Fame in 1968.

             

             

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              Philip “Skit” Ferguson

              Reserve Mines/Dartmouth, N.S.

              Philip “Skit” Ferguson (1925  – )

               

              At a time when baseball was king in the province of Nova Scotia and American collegiate players dominated the local scene, a lefthander from Reserve Mines, C.B. more than held his own with the very best. Philip “Skit” Ferguson led the Truro Bearcats to the Halifax and District League championship in 1946 winning eighteen games while losing just one (18-1). To add to his achievement on the mound he also won the batting title, hitting .468, while easily winning the league MVP award.

               

              In his career with the Dominion Hawks, Halifax Shipyards, and the Truro Bearcats he accumulated a record of 51 wins and 5 losses. One of the greatest testaments to his ability and endurance is the fact that he never left a game that he started.

               

              Despite offers from three major league baseball teams, he decided to attend St. Francis Xavier University to obtain an engineering degree.

               

              On the ice he led the X-Men to an undefeated season in his graduating year, 1945-46, scoring 22 goals, along with 20 assists.

               

              He was inducted into the St. F. X. University Hall of Fame in 1979 and the Nova Scotia Sports Hall of Fame in 1980.

               

               

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                Yvon Durelle

                Baie Ste. Anne, N.B

                Yvon Durelle, born Oct 14, 1929, was known as the Fighting Fisherman, and was one of the Maritimes’ most courageous and colourful athletes. A native of Baie Ste. Anne, New Brunswick, Durelle split his time between fishing, working on lighthouses and light-heavyweight championship boxing, beginning in 1947. With twelve siblings living in close quarters (7 biological siblings and 4 adopted brothers and sisters), as well as the rough and tumble life in Baie Ste. Anne, he had plenty of ‘brawling’ practice in his early years. His great natural talent and toughness caught the attention of Moncton promoter Chris Shaban, who became Durelle’s manager and trainer and launched him into the professional boxing circuit, becoming the Canadian light-heavyweight champion by 1953. He lost that title later that year but regained it in July, 1954 and successfully defended it on two occasions, retiring with that title.

                By May 30, 1957, Durelle had developed sufficient prowess and skills to allow him to challenge for the British Empire light-heavyweight title defeating Gordon Wallace by knock-out in the second round. After this victory, Yvon was matched against Archie Moore for the world light-heavyweight championship. On December 10, 1958, in a fight that had all of Canada – and much of the world – on the edge of its seat, he came very close to capturing that title. He had the Moore down three times in the first round, and four times in the fight. He was himself knocked down three times, and finally counted out the fourth time in the eleventh round. Though he failed to claim the crown, this fight went down in Canadian boxing history as perhaps the best bouts of the half-century.

                Durelle’s reputation as a tough and determined boxer was well earned. Credited with an iron constitution, he once fought Floyd Patterson with a broken his hand that occurred during a bout some six days earlier. Although advised to postpone, Durelle refused, as he had promised he’d be there and had Patterson by decision in eight rounds.

                Though he was a fearsome force in the ring, Durelle had a kind and gentle personality and was affectionately referred to as Doux, French for soft. Durelle’s last big fight was against George Chuvalo in 1959 for the Canadian heavyweight title. With the beginnings of leg problems, he lost, and promptly announced his retirement. It was also a fight that perhaps Yvon did not have his heart in, as that was shortly after some thirty-five (35) Baie Sainte Anne fishermen lost their lives when a rogue wave struck the village pier. He made a brief comeback in 1963 before finally retiring to his home province.

                Yvon was married on June 27, 1951 to his loving wife, Therese (Martin), and they had four children, Geneva (LaPierrre), Yvon, Jr. (called Bo), Paul  and Francine (Kipling). Three live in New Brunswick, but Francine currently resides in Winnipeg with her husband and two children. Geneva became a nurse and helped as their parents aged. Yvon died in 2007 being cared for by Therese, who passed away herself  in 2011. Francine describes her father as a character who enjoyed playing jokes, cards games and his dogs, but could be serious when need be. He also discouraged his sons from taking up fighting.

                In 105 professional bouts, Durelle won 44 by knockout and 38 by decision. He lost ten by decision, three on foul, and was knocked out nine times. Based on this record, Yvon Durelle was enshrined in the Canadian Boxing Hall of Fame in 1989. He is also a member of the New Brunswick Sports Hall of Fame (1971) and the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame (1975).

                 

                Some interesting links for Yvon Durelle  (several are in French; some involve genealogy and other have video links included):

                http://yvondurelle.com/

                http://archives.radio-canada.ca/emissions/90-http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.virtualmuseum.ca%2Fsgc-cms%2Fhistoires_de_chez_nous-community_memories%2Fpm_v2.php%3Fid%3Dexhibit_home%26fl%3D0%26lg%3DEnglish%26ex%3D00000675&h=sAQHHbbuD 

                https://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nfb.ca%2Ffilm%2Fdurelle&h=uAQFoQp8c

                http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.sportshall.ca%2Fstories.html%3FproID%3D344%26catID%3Dall&h=2AQGjLZjt

                 

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                  The Charlottetown Islanders, hockey, 1981,1984

                  Front Row (left to right):

                  Bobby MacGuigan, Wilf MacDonald, Laurie Downe, Gerard Smith, Yves Belanger, George Brown, Jamie Kennedy, Jackie Devine (Trainer), Roy Wilson ( Trainer and Equipment Manager)

                  Middle Row (left to right):

                  Angie Carrol (Coach), Shane Carr, Kevin Murphy, Peter Williams, Mike Ready, Paul Gormley, Mike Devine, Gary Trainor,Rory Beck, Wayne Squarbriggs, Mike MacKinnon (Manager and Owner)

                  Back Row (left to right):

                  Gerry Mccarron, Mike Kennedy, Kenny Campbell, Ron Carragher, Brian Ostroski, Don MacKay

                   

                  Charlottetown Islanders, 1981 and 1984

                  The Charlottetown Islanders of 1981 accomplished what no other previous provincial team had done in the very successful and distinguished history of hockey in Prince Edward Island. They became the first Island team to win a national championship, winning the Hardy Cup, emblematic of Intermediate A hockey supremacy in Canada. And the team did it in style, going undefeated in the playoffs against the Campbellton Tigers, the Fredericton Capitals, Timmons North Stars, and the Winnipeg Northend Flyers.

                  With 12 players from the ’81 team on its roster the 1984 Charlottetown Islanders won the Hardy Cup once again, this time on home ice against the Moose Jaw Generals.

                  Both teams were enshrined in the P.E.I. Sports Hall of Fame in 2013, ensuring their deserved place in the Island’s proud sport history.

                  While the team has been selected for inclusion in the Maritime Sports Hall of Fame based on the stellar performance of the two Hardy Cup teams above, the nomination is really for the entire franchise, which began early in the 20th Century, from the team that won the semi-pro Maritime Major Hockey title in 1950-51, lost the finals in the ACSHL in 1954-55; won two Hardy Cups in the 1980s and the Alan Cup in 1991, to today’s representative in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. There have been a few name changes over the years, but it has been this franchise that has endured and kept PEI hockey well established within the Canadian hockey landscape.

                   

                   

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                    The Halifax Kingfishers, hockey, 1961-1962

                    * Kingfisher’s Roster:

                    Goal: Terry Matthews

                    Defence: Bernie Bishop, Dave Cunningham, John Dean, Howie Fish, Dennis Gates

                    Forwards: Don Bauld, David Boyd, Ray Kaizer, Willie Moore, Keith Blenkhorn, Ron Hanna, Joey MacNeil, John Roach, Richard Redden, Win Wright

                    Coach: John (Pud)Roach, Sr.;    Manager: Al Hollingsworth

                    Added players for Memorial Cup playoffs against Ottawa:

                    Lyle Carter (Goal), Lloyd Gallant (D), George Croucher (F), Alfie Flannagan (F), Oscar Gaudet (F)

                     

                    Halifax Kingfishers Hockey Team (1961-62)

                    The Maritimes, and Nova Scotia in particular, had a vibrant Junior A program with several leagues and independent teams from the 1930s through the war years until the later 1950s to the very beginning of the 1960s when both enthusiasm and resources/finances became scarce… and competition declined.

                    This was true virtually everywhere in this province, as competitive leagues had formerly flourished in Cape Breton, in the Annapolis Valley, and in Halifax, along with other mainland teams in the Truro-Pictou-Antigonish corridor, but by the late fifties into 1961-62 this had began to crumble. By 1960-61, when the Dartmouth Marine Union Junior team defeated the Halifax team (both independents), hockey was down to three teams on the mainland, with only an independent team representing Cape Breton in the provincial playoffs, and three in New Brunswick. By the end of the 50s and at the cusp of the 60s, Junior Hockey in the region was “on the ropes” in this Nova Scotia … and more generally throughout the Maritimes after having as many as 20-25 teams in the three provinces in the early to mid-1950s.

                    It was perhaps at its lowest point in 1961- 62 with only three independent teams in Nova Scotia and only a three in New Brunswick. However, the performance of the Halifax Kingfisher’s independent Junior A team, which put together a very strong cadre of players from the metropolitan region and beyond, including quality players from Windsor, Truro, NB, and PEI to compete for both the Maritime Junior title and Eastern Canadian Memorial Cup. Their performance in the Memorial Cup against the Ottawa Montagnards (a series in which they lost 3 games to 1, but involved three one goal games, two in double overtime) changed the hockey scene in Nova Scotia and the Maritimes dramatically for years after, a situation sustained today.

                    Despite having little appropriate competition, the Kingfishers managed to play exhibition games against junior-juvenile, intermediate, senior and varsity teams wherever they could, including trips to NB and Newfoundland. They played the Trenton Scotias, another NS independent team, for the NS mainland title which was a two-game total goal series, won 8-5 by the Kingfishers. After losing game one 3-2 with superb goaltending by Trenton’s Lyle Carter, they stormed back to win the second 6-2; then handily defeated Glace Bay Miners (14-1; also a two game total goal series) before defeating the Fredericton Capitals 14-5, wining both games of a total goal series for the Maritime Championship, for a 5-1 game record, while winning all three total goal series within the Maritimes for the regional title, that earned them the right to meet the Ottawa-Quebec regional winner. All four games in that series were played at the Halifax Forum and they were classics, drawing full houses for all games, with over 20,000 in total attendance in that medium-sized arena; it was standing room only and little of that as people were literally up in the “rafters” to get a good view. The first two were evenly split as the Halifax Kingfishers and Ottawa Montagnards each won games by single goal margins in double overtime at the Forum. The Saturday game was widely televised by CBC (Halifax), with Don Goodwin doing the play-by-play – the first such event from the Nova Scotia capital. As a result, not only were the local crowds ignited and excited to witness that quality of hockey, but also many tens of thousands beyond metropolitan Halifax who watched the televised game and read the Chronicle-Herald and newswire accounts of those games, which in my view (and many others) changed the face of junior hockey in the region going forward. The final two games, one won by Ottawa by a single goal in overtime, were exciting contests as well. Perhaps with a strong competitive league in Nova Scotia, the Kingfishers would have even been stronger as they played their first-ever four game series in five days.

                    Immediately following, in 1962-63, there was the formation of the four-team Twin City Junior League in the Halifax metro region, as well as the resurgence of the Cape Breton Junior League, and teams from Kentville-Windsor, Truro, Pictou County and the Antigonish Bulldogs in Nova Scotia, plus teams from Moncton, Fredericton, the Mirimichi area and Northern New Brunswick, plus Charlottetown, PEI – a total of 24 teams were operational only one year later after those numbers had previously declined to just five! The Maritimes had nearly returned to the hockey heydays of the 40s and 50s, when both junior and senior teams and leagues flourished … and continued to evolve to where they are today, with 19 Major Junior and Junior A teams, plus complete Maritime/provincial Junior B and C leagues as well.

                    While there is always an ebb and flow of teams and fortunes in any sport, this event was perhaps the most dramatic recovery in a truly Canadian sport within this region, which had been in dramatic decline for some half dozen years prior to the Kingfisher’s season. That, many contend, is the great legacy of this team.

                    The team had great players*, good coaching and despite the initial lack of local competition they practiced hard, traveled much, maintained great discipline and tenacity to keep improving despite those odds. They had strength throughout the team, from goal-tending to a solid defence … and a great cadre of upfront skaters; unfortunately more real-time games and a more demanding schedule against other similar teams, and not just exhibition games, may have given them more experience on special teams, as one could see those teams improving as well during the games against Ottawa. Remember, just one more power-play goal scored or one more penalty killed in three games could have given them the Eastern Canadian series win.

                    And if one were to examine the roster* of that 1961-62 team, one would see a large number of individuals, some of whom went on to play hockey in professional leagues; or in the Maritime Senior A league (really semi-pro hockey); to play on top rated Maritime Varsity teams, which became competitive nationally; while others went on to coach and referee in higher level hockey leagues, including high school, varsity, minor, junior and senior hockey leagues, thus giving back to the sport they loved and to the society that allowed them to play this great game during a time of minimal dollars and dwindling sponsorships.

                    After 1962 we had the Twin City League locally in HRM, followed by the Junior Canadians, the Halifax Voyageur (American Hockey League professionals), and later the Twin City League became the Metro-Valley League, which has morphed into other leagues as well as with other names, and is the basis today for the Maritime Junior A League (MJAHL) with twelve current teams (including six from Nova Scotia) … then add to that a Quebec Major Junior Hockey League  (the Q league) that features seven Atlantic teams. Although the latter league draws players, not only from North America, but indeed world-wide in some cases, that brings the region to a current total of 19 high-level junior teams today, from that low of perhaps 5 to 7 between 1960-62, and is on par or better with a number of Maritime Junior A hockey teams of the 1940s-50s again. And there are thriving Junior B and C leagues/teams as well, so perhaps today is yet another Golden Age of hockey in the region akin to that of 60+ years ago; certainly the Halifax Moosehead’s followers would agree with that, but so would the coaches, fans and parents from Pee Wee to Junior regionally.

                    Although the route was not direct or easy, there is little doubt that the successes of the Kingfishers of 1961-62 and the young players and older fans who were inspired by them, was the beginning of the road back to where we are today, still riding a hockey high more than a half century later.

                     

                     

                     

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