Tag Archives: Orillia Terriers

Cal And Company

This Orillia Terriers were household names, almost like NHL players for young Orillia kids like me. All larger than life big shots in my eyes and with other little hockey fans.

I wonder if they realized that.

The team was packed with great players playing in a great Ontario Senior League in a time when clubs weren’t far off from pro calibre. Almost a minor pro team except no money was involved.

I was just a kid, and they were grown men, really old guys who shaved. They drove trucks and worked in local factories and delivered milk and some dated older sisters of girls I knew. And when they played they burned up the ice surface.

It was fast, rough, tough hockey, and sometimes retired NHLers would show up in various lineups, including Harry Lumley between the pipes in Collingwood, and rugged forward Cal Gardner in Orillia. (top left corner in photo).

I remember watching Gardner play like it was yesterday. I can even visualize now where I was sitting during one game when he was on the ice, which is weird because I’ve often forgotten why I’ve walked from the living room to the kitchen.

But it’s vivid, and it was fun to see a guy in the flesh who had actually played in the NHL against the Rocket and Howe and others but was now an Orillia Terrier, only a few feet away, and who used the same dressing room as I did when I would lace up my little blades.

Gardner played for the Rangers, Toronto, Chicago and Boston before retiring in 1957, was twice an all-star, and joined Orillia after being with the Cleveland Barons of the American Hockey League. His two sons, Dave and Paul both became NHLers too.

He also also had a couple of big connections with the Habs in different ways.

Gardner was on the ice for Toronto when Bill Barilko scored his legendary goal to win the Cup for the Leafs in 1951, and had set up Howie Meeker who missed the net, just before Barilko didn’t miss the net.

And he and Montreal’s Ken Reardon enjoyed a bitter and dangerous feud that lasted years. It began when Gardner was with New York and got his stick up after a shot from the point and clipped Reardon on the lip. Gardner said his stick was up a little. Reardon said it was a blatant cross check to the face.

Whatever it was, it started a bench-clearing brawl and Reardon promised revenge on Gardner, pretty well every time the two met after that.

In 1949, when Gardner was a Leaf, Reardon finally got that revenge at the Forum, when he “accidentally” ran into Gardner and broke his jaw on both sides, causing league prez Clarence Campbell to force Reardon to post a $1000 good behaviour bond. But they continued to rough each other up even after that and the ill-will apparently continued long after both had retired.

Too bad Reardon didn’t latch on to an Ontario Senior team and they could have kept it going, maybe at the good old Orillia Community Centre, with me there to see it. I never minded seeing a little blood and intestines splattered on the ice, as long as it wasn’t mine.

Orillia And Galt Battle Hard

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I saw this picture the other day, and in keeping with sometimes being all over the map and straying from the Habs, I thought it important to show, especially if you’re from the Orillia or Cambridge areas, some good old senior hockey action.

It’s a 1970 Senior A playoff game between the Orillia Terriers and Galt Hornets, and although it looks to me like it might be the Orillia arena, it very well could be in Galt. I have a helmet sort of like the Orillia guy, which now sits on Giant Gaston’s head. (the helmet, not the Orillia guy).

Galt and three other neighboring towns, Hespeler, Preston, and Blair, amalgamated in 1973 and became Cambridge. Hespeler used to make fine hockey sticks, including Hespeler Green Flash, which was my stick of choice. Not that it did any good.

The Galt Hornets were Allan Cup champs for 1968-69 and 1970-71, while Orillia would win it all in 1972-73.

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Don Kelcher Got It Done

Nice, interesting story about Don Kelcher, a member of the Orillia’s 1973 Allan Cup-winning team, Kelcher Big Part of Allan Cup Win, sent to me from two fine Orillians Ron Green and Don McIsaac, although Don lives in Houston, Texas now. His heart’s still in Orillia though.

It seems the Orillia coach Joe Kane (no relation) quit early in that historic season, Kelcher found himself in the role of player-coach, and ended up taking his gang to the promised land.

(Speaking of people named Joe Kane, my father and his two brothers were all named Joe Kane, so they had to go by their middle names to avoid confusion).

Habs’ New Scout Knows Orillia

I’m proud to say that the new Habs pro scout for the NHL Western Division has a huge Orillia connection.

Ethan Moreau played for the Junior B Orillia Terriers during the 1990-91 season, has lived in Orillia off and on for quite some time, and his parents Ab and Ester still live there. Moreau attended Orillia’s ODCVI high school, while I went to Park St., one of the other secondary schools in town, before Moreau was born but I don’t want to get into that.

Gordon Lightfoot and John French also went to ODCVI

ODCVI seemed to always have a huge flock of good looking female students, including Lynn Sinclair, who I once made it to second base with.

Is all this exciting or what? And with this new Orillia/Habs connection, can my stick boy job be far behind?

Less Smiles, More Unpleasantness Please

The fantasy draft is over, the skills competition has wrapped up, we just have to get through what passes for a game, and All-Star weekend will draw to a close.

My prediction for today’s game? Hmm. I’d say Team Chara over Team Alfredsson. Maybe a low-scoring affair - 31 to 24. And later on, Botox salesmen will be present to give players free samples to help them remove wrinkles caused by those lovey-dovey smiles they’ve been wearing.

John Ferguson is punching heaven’s walls right now.

I just wish I could have had a slapshot like these guys when I was a smallish-yet-shifty right winger for Orillia’s Byers Bulldozers bantam and midget squads. When I was in Orillia last year I asked an old teammate Gary Cooper how he managed to have such a great shot back then, and he said he tried to tell us but we wouldn’t listen. He said the secret is for the stick to hit the ice several inches before it touches the puck, something we could see last night when Chara and the boys were whistling them in.

If only I would have listened to Gary Cooper. I could’ve played for the Habs. Or if I would’ve had the misfortune to be chosen by Boston, I could’ve stayed and helped the Orillia Terriers win the Allan Cup. But I didn’t listen to Gary and it’s been a struggle ever since.

And if I may, I’d like to suggest a couple more events for the skills competition. Wouldn’t it be fun to see players stand at one goal line and try to shoot a wrist shot over the glass at the other end? Gordie Howe could do it.

How about bouncing the puck toward the goal from outside the blueline, like JC Tremblay used to do. JC would score two or three goals a year by pulling off this little trickery, and no one else could do it as well. Seems like a bonafide skill to me.

Lets just get the peace and love out of the way and get back to business. The business of the Habs beating Buffalo on Tuesday, making it three in a row, which hasn’t happened since late October, and continue up that wobbly ladder.

And I’ve changed my prediction for today’s game because probably 31-24 is just too ridiculous. I’m saying 19-18. That’s more like it.