Remembering Past Hockey Champions At History Circle

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Remembering past hockey champions at history circle

It was a Cinderella team, one no one expected would win a Maritime Hockey Championship in its first year.

But Summerside’s first junior ‘A’ squad – the Junior Legionnaires – would do just that.

That team, along the Kinsmen Juveniles and the Summerside Aces, will be the focus of the final Hockey Hot Stove League History Circle this Thursday.

George Dalton vividly recalls being part of the inaugural Legionnaires squad and how the young team capped off a storybook season with a Maritime Junior Hockey Championship.

“It was beyond our expectations.”

It was a talented team, with several players moving onto either university or professional hockey, including Donnie Campbell, who played at Memorial University and who is father of Olympic women’s hockey gold medalist Cassie Campbell-Pascall, and Paul MacWilliams, who skated with the Halifax Junior Canadiens.

“It basically had an all-local face,” Dalton said of the 1963-64 Legionnaires.

After winning the Island Junior A Championship the team headed to Moncton.

“We had our tires slashed in the parking lot,” recalled Dalton.

But the Legionnaires had the last laugh, beating Moncton in two straight games.

They took on Sydney in the finals, winning the first game at home before heading to Cape Breton. The reception in Sydney wasn’t much warmer than in Moncton.

“Shovels came over the boards and it got rough,” said Dalton. “I got cut above the eye and cut below the eye and had to leave for stitches.”

With Allen Gaudet’s overtime goal, the Legionnaires beat Sydney 3-2. Sydney’s mayor congratulated the Summerside boys but offered some advice.

“He said we’re having a reception for the winner and the reception is at city hall but please don’t come. We can’t guarantee your safety.”

The Legionnaires went on to win a second consecutive Maritime Junior A Championship the following year, again beating Sydney.

Paul H. Schurman’s Aces also won back-to-back Maritime championships in 1953 and ‘54, both won in sudden death match-ups.

“It was a cold time,” Schurman said of being a hockey spectator. “Going to the rink wasn’t as nice as it is now.”

The former broadcaster, who played centre with the team, said more than 3,000 fans packed into Civic Stadium during the finals.

“We had a good following,” said Schurman. “The prices were right, too, 50 cents to get in and when playoffs started we would raise it 25 cents. People didn’t like that.”

Schurman hopes not only players with these teams come out for the Hockey Hot Stove but the fans and those who supported the teams.

Those with a story, photos or memorabilia to share are invited to attend.

The event starts at 2 p.m. on Thursday at Eptek Art and Culture Centre.

Nancy MacPhee

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