EMAIL mj.morris@live.ca


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Chapleau Senior Bantams became part of NOPHA, 'biggest hockey league in the world' winning Division A championship in 1967-68 season

Whenever I returned home to Chapleau  while at university and later as a daily newspaper reporter in the  1960s, one of my regular stops for a visit to catch up on local  hockey news was the home of L.D. 'Don' and Olive M. Card, both of whom were involved with the Chapleau Minor Hockey Association for many years.

When I was a kid in the 1950s, Don and Garth "Tee" Chambers were the main minor hockey coaches while also playing in the town league and for the Intermediate Huskies. 

Olive (Schroeder) Card served as secretary-treasurer of the minor hockey association for more than 20 years, and was known as 'Mrs. Minor Hockey', a title she richly deserved for her years of dedication to minor hockey. She also became a member of Chapleau Township council, the second woman after Mrs. F.M. Hands, to be elected. Olive was deputy reeve for several years.


Olive and Don would share news on up and coming hockey players and how teams were doing. 

I learned about the players who would eventually become the 1966-67 Chapleau Junior 'B' Huskies, who under the guidance of Lorne Riley and Keith 'Buddy' Swanson, would win the International Junior 'B' Hockey League and Northern Ontario Hockey Association championships in  1966-67, their first year in the league. Except for John Loyst, the goaltender who came from Timmins, all the players were graduates of Chapleau minor hockey.

But Olive and Don would tell me over coffee in their kitchen about another group of players who were destined to make a very significant mark in the annals of Chapleau hockey history -- the players on the Senior Bantams between 1965 and 1968, first coached by David Mizuguchi who became the manager, and was succeeded by David Futhey.

Little did I know when I first heard about the Bantams across a kitchen table talking Chapleau hockey while visiting my mother Muriel E. (Hunt) Morris, family and friends, how huge a role many of these players would play in my life in years to come. When I first heard great things about them I was living in Saskatchewan working as a reporter, later editor at the Star-Phoenix in Saskatoon.

In fact, their success between 1965 and 1968 before many of them went on to play for the Junior 'B' Huskies has only struck me in the past year or so after being back in touch with David Mizuguchi on Facebook. 

It all started in the 1965-66 season, just as the Chapleau Memorial Community Arena was getting artificial ice, and the team went to a hockey tournament in Lasarre, Quebec. They emerged as the Division B champions with David Mizuguchi as coach. They repeated this success in 1966-67 with David again as coach --- a year of champions for Chapleau hockey with the Junior 'B' Huskies winning too. 

However, it was in the 1967-1968 hockey season, the last for most of them as Bantams, that they really excelled. They were moved into Division A at the Lasarre tournament but won the title and they also won the Northern Ontario Playground Hockey Association (NOPHA)  'A' championship in the Bantam category with David Mizuguchi as manager, David Futhey as coach and Doug Prusky who was now overage as trainer.

Chapleau minor hockey had a long history with the NOPHA founded in 1951 by Sam Jacks shortly after he became the first recreation director in North Bay. After the NOPHA was founded, the Manitoba Ensign reported in a story from North Bay that it was the "biggest hockey league in the world" and was supported by communities throughout Northern Ontario.

 In the early 1950s I was on a Chapleau Bantam team in the NOPHA  that played in Sudbury, making the trip on one occasion in our own railway car on the CPR singing 'Heart of My Heart' over and over and over again.

As I really had no future as a hockey player despite my love of the game, Tee, Don and Olive were instrumental in having me attend an NOPHA referees school in North Bay, and as a result, I refereed my first out of town games in North Bay and Sudbury. Mr. Jacks conducted the referees school.

In 2012 Lasarre will celebrate the 49th anniversary of its Bantam hockey tournament.

In  1969 when I started teaching at Chapleau High School, the Bantams were now the Juniors, attending the school, and over the next few years many of them would be in my classes. I came to know them well, and we also met at the Chapleau Memorial Community Arena on weekends where I would be refereeing games.

As I have been looking backward a bit while thinking about, and doing this piece, it struck me that many of these players defined Chapleau hockey for about 20 years, and deserve a vote of thanks for their contribution to many great hockey nights in Chapleau --- and on the road too. And yes, after playing their minor hockey and junior hockey for their home town, along with some from the championship Junior 'B' Huskies, and the others who joined us, they became part of the Intermediate 'A' Huskies for five years --- and that is a story for another day. Thanks guys!  

Thanks to David Mizuguchi too.My email is mj.morris@live.ca


Anonymous said...

Nice informative article of the Chapleau Minor Hockey Teams and the Chapleau Junior "B" Huskies. I was unaware of the (NOPHA)until now.I thought the Northern Ontario Hockey Association looked after all the business for the teams in the Northern Ontario area. In 1967-68 That one Junior " B" League in Northern Ontario at the time was called the International Junior "B" League which played under an Northern Ontario made constitution made up of the basically same rules as that of the Ontario Hockey Association- with some limits and boundaries they endorsed as being of geographical concern to them and their areas.I believe that portion of the province at the time included teams from Wawa-Chapleau-Bruce Mines-(Later moved to Thessalon,)- Sault, Ontario and Sault, Michigan. These teams provided the only "show" in town on most week-end nights during the hockey season. Thanks for the articles and to the contributors for providing this info. Reg. Fitzpatrick- Bracebridge, Ontario

Anonymous said...

...Whenever some of the train crews from Chapleau would come into the "old" station at Franz during switching movements or while waiting trains times for the BUDD CAR- The Franz "Coffee" Stand always provided an avenue to rehash old Hockey Stories between some of the Wawa and Chapleau rivalries in the past days of the teams. A lot of the lads on the C.P. and some of the Algoma Central Railway crew members at the time I was there from 1977-1992.Being a late arrival on the hockey scene to the area myself ( 1967) it was always interesting to listen to some older guys talk about the earlier times when they played in the natural ice arenas in both towns- and some of the innovative ways they use to travel between centres for schedules games before Highway 101 was completed betwen the two towns.I wish sometimes I would have written a book about the experiences i often heard about. There was never a "dull" moment especially when the Budd Car was ahead of its' leaving schedule at Franz back in those days!! Reg. Fitzpatrick- Bracebridge, Ontario

Michael J Morris

Michael J Morris
MJ with Buckwheat (1989-2009) Photo by Leo Ouimet


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