Monthly Archives: November 2012

NHL zebras go to camp

Originally published in the Toronto Star, September 14, 2011.

Players aren’t the only ones preparing for a new hockey season.

The NHL’s on-ice officials have gathered in Thornbury, 20 kilometres west of Collingwood, for a training camp that will get them ready – and which also serves as their annual staff meeting.

This camp is the only opportunity supervisors such as NHL director of officiating Terry Gregson will have to brief the officials on new developments, such as rule changes. A significant example is Rule 48, which has been revised to outlaw all targeted hits to the head, rather than just hits from the blind side.

“We have to go over the standard of enforcement that we want to put into place for the season,” he said. “We have to discuss the parameters that are going to be followed, how we want it called. I’ve just empowered the guys that, when they see contact with the head, react to it.” Continue reading

Owen Sound’s first Memorial Cup

Originally published in the Toronto Star, May 26, 2011.

It was early morning on March 29, 1924, when 5,000 people packed the street in front of the local newspaper building, waiting for a wire service dispatch from Winnipeg.

When the dispatch arrived, the information was posted on a sheet held up for all to see. The crowd burst into a wild cheer as it became clear – the Owen Sound Greys had won the Memorial Cup.

Leone (Bunny) Keeling, 16, had a vested interest in the news. Her older brother, Melville (Butch) Keeling, was a star player on the Greys. That season, he scored an astounding 62 goals in 26 games, including 37 in 15 playoff contests.

That girl is now 103 years old. And as another Owen Sound team tries to capture the same championship – a title the city has not won since 1927 – Bunny Clark remembers the glorious days when her brother helped carry their hometown to the top of the junior hockey world.

“We were so proud of them,” she said. “They were the best in Canada, weren’t they?” Continue reading

When Collingwood ruled the OHA

Originally published in OHA Blueline magazine in the spring of 2011.

For a brief time in the early 1950s, the town of Collingwood stood atop the Ontario hockey world.

The dynasty was short-lived, but it brought unprecedented glory to the community – six OHA championships in a four-year span, including four in a row by its Junior C team.

Collingwood had always been a noted hockey town and was known for its solid intermediate program that had won five OHA intermediate titles between 1910 and 1920, and the Intermediate A crown in 1939.

As the 1940s came to an end, the town’s minor hockey system was also beginning to bear fruit, with a juvenile team that went to the provincial final in 1948. The Cubs fell short, but they bounced back and went undefeated in 1948-49, capturing the OMHA Juvenile B championship in dominating fashion. Continue reading

Hat trick Rieck

Originally published in OHA Blueline magazine in the spring of 2010.

It’s just a coincidence that Tom Rieck’s surname rhymes with “hat trick.”

Although the Kitchener native enjoyed a six-season junior hockey career that culminated with a Centennial Cup championship in 1978, his lasting achievement as a player is one that happened very early in that career, took almost no time at all to accomplish and waited 35 years to come to the fore.

It was February 4, 1974, when Rieck, at age 16, scored the fastest hat trick in Ontario hockey history during a Junior B game between his Kitchener Ranger B’s and the Brantford Diamond Kings. The B’s won the contest 17-4. Continue reading

Jack Gross – war hero and Belgian knight

Originally published in the Owen Sound Sun Times, November 20, 2008.

It turns out Paul Gross isn’t the only member of his family who can tell war stories about Belgium.

Gross has received a great deal of attention and acclaim for his recent film “Passchendaele.” He wrote, directed, co-produced and starred in the movie, inspired by his maternal grandfather’s experiences in the First World War.

But Jack Gross, the filmmaker’s uncle, was also in Belgium at wartime. It was a different war and his duties were somewhat different, but a lasting impression was made on the young soldier who was later honoured by Belgium for his bravery at the Battle of the Scheldt.

“I shouldn’t even be here to tell the story today,” Gross, 89, said in an interview at his Port Elgin home.

It’s a story he has kept largely to himself since it happened, in the fall of 1944. Continue reading

Cy Lemon 1930-2008

Originally published in the Owen Sound Sun Times, October 27, 2008.

Cy Lemon will be fondly remembered by many people for the 35 years he spent as a school teacher in Owen Sound and Meaford.

His competitive lacrosse career spanned about the same length of time, and he’ll be equally remembered for his love of that and many other sports.

Mr. Lemon, a member of the Owen Sound Sports Hall of Fame and of the Ontario and Canadian Lacrosse Halls of Fame, died on Friday at the Owen Sound hospital after suffering a heart attack. He was 78.

“He was a lot of fun, and he taught a lot of life lessons as a teacher and as a coach,” his son Brian said in an interview. “He had his own personality and his own style of how he would do things, and he treated everyone fairly.” Continue reading