How To End A Season – by C. Scott Holland
One of the most interesting conclusions to a Jr. B hockey season had to have fallen upon the London Nationals on Feb. 27, 1962 when they played at Sarnia. The game goes down in the books as one of the very few contests ever played in Western Jr. B hockey history which was never actually completed but its results stood as an official final.
It’s never easy finishing a campaign and not making the playoffs. As one NHL (Toronto Maple Leafs) scout who was at that particular contest between the Nats and Legionnaires said, “It’s fantastic to have turnaway crowds to see a last place team play!” The same scout couldn’t figure out how a team that had scored 190 goals in 36 games missed the playoffs. (5.28 goals for per game)
Sarnia had beaten London for the sixth and final playoff spot and in that last regular season encounter between the two clubs topped the Nats 11-5.
As if losing wasn’t enough imagine the sold-out crowd’s indignation at having the game halted at 17:39 of the third by refs Leo Houlihan and Pete Glabb when both teams swarmed onto the ice and engaged in a wild melee of punching fists and wrestling.
The game began with Sarnia rattling off five straight goals starting at the 53 second mark and ending nine minutes into the contest before London countered with three of their own.
Of great interest to London fans was the fact that Art Paquette picked up only one point in his battle for the scoring title with St. Marys’ Carl Hymers to give him a three point edge.
The game had been chippy and rough with tempers often exploding and both sides traded markers in the second to give Sarnia a 6-4 edge heading into the third.
The turmoil began when Sarnia’s Bob and Mike L’Heureux along with teammates Hank Brand squared off with John Eby, Butch Bouchard and Gilles St. Jacques of the Nationals. Even the goaltenders Rocky Marshall (London) and Joe DeRush (Sarnia) traded some licks. No sooner had the refs halted one scrap when another would break out. Finally after several minutes of continued fighting, the officials decided to halt the game and declared Sarnia the winner.
No serious injuries stemmed from the brawl.
In the first period London’s Art Paquette was handed a 10 minute misconduct for abusive language. Gene Lucusciak (Sarnia) and Butch Bouchard received 10 minute sentences in the final minute of play of the second. At 15:46 of the third London defenseman George Anderson received a game misconduct.
Just about a minute prior to the outbreak of the bench-clearing brawl, London tabbed their last goal after Sarnia had potted another five consecutive times. Legionnaires’ centre Ray Germaine collected three goals and added three assists in the offensive barrage.
London finished the 1961/62 campaign with 10 wins, 25 losses and a tied game. Future Western Jr. B Sarnia coach Ron Carroll was a member of the Sarnia team.
(photo credit – sarniasports.com)
C. Scott Holland is an accomplished author, a former Western Jr. B Hockey League statistician and is recognized as the West Conference’s and GOJHL’s historian. A lifelong resident of Leamington Scott was a journalist for the now defunct Leamington Post for 26 years and currently writes for the Southpoint Sun. Among the books he has authored are: 75 Years: A History of the Leamington and Erie Shores Golf Course; A Century In The Making – History of Heinz Canada 1909-2009; Leamington Flyers 1992/93-2011/12 Platinum Anniversary Special Program; the Western Jr. B Record Book 2003/04 and 2005/05 editions; as well as updates of both the West Conference and GOJHL Record Books. He was been a member of he Leamington Jr. Flyers hockey club for the last 27 years and served many years as a board member, statistician, press box announcer, and scorekeeper among other duties. He has been named the West Conference Volunteer of Year and a Windsor-Essex Sportsperson of Year award.