Fred Page Cup history Part One: who is Fred Page?

(Photo: Mike Carrocetto)
(Photo: Mike Carrocetto)

 

Last season marked the 20th anniversary of the Fred Page Cup, a distinguished trophy given out to the best team of a four team tournament. Making up the tournament quad would be the respective season champions from Ontario’s Central Canada Hockey League, Quebec’s Junior AAA Hockey League, the Maritime’s Junior Hockey League and the team whose city has won hosting capabilities. The winner moves on the Royal Bank Cup, Canada’s national Junior “A” championship.

Most of us who follow junior hockey have heard of the tournament. Some have even taken part in some aspect be it spectator, volunteer or player. Some have read about it in the newspaper. The question is though, do you know how the Fred Page Cup came to be? Do you even know who Fred Page is? Well, grab a cold pop and sit back while Marchy tells you the tale.

Frederick Page was born September 29, 1915 in Port Arthur and at the time, Port Arthur was a city in Northern Ontario. In January of 1970, Port Arthur, the town of Fort William, and a couple of nearby townships, joined forces to become what we know as Thunder Bay.

Fred_pageEven though Page was trapped further north than most, he didn’t let his unique location get in the way of his love for hockey. Furthermore, there was no shortage of the game in the area. Page’s first championship trophy came in 1935 under the wing of the Port Arthur Juniors who claimed the title for the Thunder Bay Amateur Hockey Association. After an early choice to retire from the game as a player in 1939, Page turned his hand to refereeing and coaching. For the next 15 years, he switched back and forth from coaching and referring in the Fort William Minor Hockey Association and refereeing in the aforementioned Thunder Bay league.

His skills as an official caught the eye of national attention. Page received and accepted an invitation to keep control of games in the 1958 Memorial and Allen Cup playoffs.

The 50’s and 60’s got even busier for Page. The early 1960’s saw him make the move out west to British Columbia and turn his focus to the administration part of the game. He was executive staff and sometimes president of various leagues in the area. He also began work nationally with the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association and coordinated Canadian team entries into European tournaments. That job grew into the 1970’s as Page continued to negotiate teams and tournaments between the two continents. It grew so much that Page was elected to represent Canada in the International Ice Hockey Federation.

Page helped organize World Championships and helped grow hockey internationally during the 1968 Winter Olympics in Grenoble, France. He was also the chairman for the hockey competition for the 1972 games in Sapporo, Japan. Back home, Page showed no signs of slowing down as he helped form the Pacific Coast Junior Hockey League in 1973 which eventually merged with the British Columbia Junior Hockey League in 1997 and is now the league that we know today. Their league championship is also named in his honour.

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Fred Page played a pretty important role in our country for not only in development of hockey but in branding and awareness. His contribution throughout the entire country for junior and amateur hockey spans over seven decades. For his monumental efforts, Page was elected in the Hockey Hall of Fame as a honourary member in 1993. Fred Page died in 1997. His selfless efforts to the game we love will never be forgotten. We will keep Page’s memory alive as long as there’s kids playing hockey.

The 2015 Fred Page Cup will take play in Cornwall, Ontario. The Central Canada Hockey League’s Cornwall Colts are eager to hit the ice and represent the host city and keep the Fred Page flame burning.

Sprague Cleghorn and the Cornwall Cougars

Sprague_CleghornA name like Sprague Cleghorn is bound to be stuck in your mind. A bit of a forerunner for what it means to have a “hockey name”. Older hockey fans will remember Cleghorn as one of the toughest men to lace up the skates. In fact rumors are that Evelyn Byng, the wife of Lord Byng who was the twelfth Governor General of Canada, donated the Lady Byng Trophy to the NHL in 1924 on account of being repulsed with Cleghorn’s play.

Born and bred out of Montreal, Quebec, Cleghorn was a four time Stanley Cup champion having won two with the Montreal Canadiens and two with the Ottawa Senators. During the beginning of establishing the National Hockey League, Cleghorn was charged twice with on ice infractions that evidently led to his legacy. One such incident caused him to take a bad tumble to the ice and break his ankle. Upon returning back home to Montreal, he fell on the slippery sidewalks and broke the other one. If that’s not karma, I don’t know what is.

Upon hanging up the skates or the gloves if you will, Cleghorn didn’t get away from the game and instead turned to coaching. He was picked up the lead the Pittsburgh Shamrocks of the International Hockey League in the late 1930’s. Just like the issues of hockey today, Cleghorn was let go after one season due to the accusation of the team not paying him. He sued and won.

After the Pittsburgh debacle, not many teams we’re looking for a beat up tough guy with business sense. Naturally, Cornwall came calling.

P195803SThe Cornwall Cougars were a senior team playing out of the Quebec Provincial Hockey League. The Cougars were in operation for a little under three years and were hardly a powerhouse. Cleghorn first set up in Cornwall running hockey clinics around town when he was appointed as coach. Cornwall was the only Ontario entry as they face off against Quebec squads from Victoriaville, Sherbrooke, Saint Hyacinthe, Lachine and Drummondville.

Cleghorn wasn’t noted for his coaching. After going six games without a win and being shut out by 11 goals, Cleghorn was canned. Soon after the entire team folded and the legacy of the Cornwall Royals would soon come to fruition.

Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1958 but didn’t live to see it happen. Cleghorn was hit by a car two years earlier in his hometown of Montreal and succumbed to his numerous head injuries. Sprague Cleghorn will be forever remembered as one of the few who reaches the Hall for his fists.

Florida Panthers’ Jesse Winchester lands cover of Cornwall Living magazine

(Photo: TeamCornwall)
(Photo: TeamCornwall)

How fitting of the latest edition of Cornwall Living magazine to feature hometown NHLer Jesse Winchester as their cover boy. At a special event held last week at local restaurant Schnitzels’ European Flavours, Winchester himself was on hand along with a variety of local Cornwallites to witness the unveiling.

Cornwall Living showcases the citizens and their accomplishments throughout the region. Plenty of local photographers have their work featured in the magazine along with profiles of local business men and woman, athletes and creative minds. It is a fundamental part of promoting how one can thrive in Ontario’s eastern most city.

Winchester who joined the Florida Panthers last season after a few years with the close by Ottawa Senators, first started his hockey career in nearby Winchester suiting up for the Jr. B Hawks. From there he made the jump to the Junior A. Cornwall Colts for three seasons, ending with 82 points in 54 games in his last season as captain. After a successful collegiate career with Colgate University, Winchester made the big leagues as he joined the black, red and gold of Ottawa.

Winchester is a big role model for young Cornwall hockey players. His performance has not only lead him to the NHL but has led him overseas as he played last year’s lockout season with Jokerit Helsinki of the top league in Finland. He managed to secure himself the title of having the best faceoff percentage in the league.

Cornwall often gets a bad rap. It’s usually from the younger folk but as you grow more mature you realize that Cornwall is a great place to raise a family. It’s strategically placed close to Ottawa and Montreal who in itself provide many opportunities for Cornwallities as well. I was born and raised here. I’ve come to love this little city on the banks of the St. Lawrence River. Your life is what you make of it. Your city is what you make of it.

Even if you leave, chances are you’ll miss this Seaway City.

Choose Cornwall.

To get your free copy of Cornwall Living, head over to request form at the City of Cornwall website.

Massena, New York awarded a team for North Atlantic Professional Hockey League’s inaugural season

naphlThere’s a new hockey league being formed in the region and if you want to get more of a hockey fix this winter, the second team to be involved has been awarded right across the border in Massena, New York. The North Atlantic Professional Hockey League is based out of Massachusetts and hopes to start icing teams this fall. The President of the league, Phil DeFranco, has had plenty of experience with starting up hockey. He has had his hand in starting up junior hockey leagues in his home state and also helped the former league of the Akwesasne Warriors, the Federal Hockey League jump up onto its feet.

The mission statement for the NAPHL is to provide quality and entertaining hockey at an affordable prices for families. With already one team awarded to the city of North Adams, Massachusetts, Massena, NY is a strategic place to enter a team. Former Akwesasne Warriors owner, Darby Oakes will steer head the Massena movement and have come down to three choices for Head Coach and General Manager. Oakes plans to hold a press conference in June to unveil the coaching staff and front office personnel, along with the team name and mascot. The team will play out of the Massena Arena, the former home of the Massena Americans before they moved to Cornwall and became the Colts.

The Berkshire Black Bears will be the first team playing in the NAPHL, located in North Adams, Massachusetts.
The Berkshire Black Bears will be the first team playing in the NAPHL, located in North Adams, Massachusetts.

According to the press release given by the NAPHL, the league will be announcing more teams in the US and even possibly Canada for its first year in existence. The league wants to end up with a total of eight to provide a quality game playing over the course of a 52 game schedule. The longest road trip for teams is said to only be six hours. Could we see an NAPHL team in Cornwall with the River Kings position up in the air? It would create one hell of a rivalry; The Battle of the Seaway.
To keep track of updates on the Massena squad and the NAPHL in general, head on over to their website: www.naphl.us. Of course, here at March Hockey, I’ll be keeping my eyes locked closely on this story.

Cornwall’s hockey history: Owen McCourt and one of hockey’s first fatalities

What a time to be alive. It was the early 1900’s in the newly formed country of Canada and the population’s fascination with the fastest game on ice had barely started. The passion we know and love today from Canadians was in its infancy. However in Cornwall, the small Seaway town had been established for well over a hundred years already. Early versions of the game had already taken place up and down the St. Lawrence corridor; it was only fitting for a league to start in the area.

Under the leadership and guidance of the already well-established Montreal Wanderers hockey club, the formation of the Federal Amateur Hockey League began in 1903. What came to fruition was a 4 team, 6 game season that would begin that very winter. The clubs in the mix were the aforementioned Wanderers, Montreal Nationals, Ottawa Capitals (who would later become the Ottawa Silver Seven) and a team from the Seaway City of Cornwall. Over the next couple of years, clubs from three other small towns in the area, Brockville, Morrisburg, and Smith Falls would try their hand at winning a championship with the latter winning one in 1906.

Ottawa Silver Seven
Ottawa Silver Seven

In 1905, two teams from the FAHL and four from the Canadian Amateur Hockey League decided to join forces and form the Eastern Canada Amateur Hockey Association. Their decision to amalgamate was based on entertaining the idea to maximize revenues as hockey was turning into a wildly popular spectator sport. Along the same lines, some players were being paid under the table. This league would attempt to foresee the professionalism of the sport. This was the very beginning forms of the National Hockey League that we know and love today.

Cornwall’s club was not one of the lucky two who got picked to join. The powerful Montreal Wanderers and Ottawa HC were the ones invited. However the league was looked at as a sort of farm league for the clubs in the ECAHA. Cornwall had its fair share of powerful players but could not manage a standing place of higher than third in their years together. One player in particular showed promise as he was flying up and down the ice with great speed and developing a reputation of a powerful goal scorer. His name was Owen McCourt.

Owen McCourt
Owen McCourt

Owen McCourt was just 22 years old when he was invited to play a couple games with the Montreal Shamrocks of the ECAHA. McCourt was proving himself on the ice as he became the top goal scorer for Cornwall in the 1906 season with 5 (remember, seasons consisted only 5 or 6 games apiece). In 1907, the local brick layer was top of the world again as he notched 16 goals in 8 games including a 7 goal performance against Morrisburg in late February. Taking note of his goal scoring abilities is what prompted the Shamrocks to invite McCourt for two games late in the 1907 season. McCourt was also a seasoned local lacrosse player which added to his skills on the ice.

It was not uncommon for players to bounce around teams and leagues from time to time. Some looked down upon this tactic but it only improved the playing abilities of both the player and club. In the beginning of March, the Cornwall H/C were hosting the Ottawa Victorias at the old rink on Third Street. The fixture would be a replay of sorts from a game that was supposed to have taken place on February 15th. It did not go through as planned as McCourt and another Cornwall player were away with the Montreal Shamrocks while Ottawa protested the move accordingly. Continue reading “Cornwall’s hockey history: Owen McCourt and one of hockey’s first fatalities”

Cornwall to hold one of a kind NHL 14 video game tournament

6426_10152132399551647_7204738995080368715_nAfter growing tired of waiting for a video game event to happen in Cornwall, local entrepreneur Calvin Morrow decided to take matters into his own hands. Morrow moved to Cornwall roughly five years ago from the big smoke of Toronto and felt the need to establish a video game scene in the Seaway City. “I’ve always felt the video game scene is alive and present in Cornwall,” says Morrow. “Somebody just needed to take initiative.” Grabbing the bull by its horns, Morrow set up Cornwall’s first video game tournament at the Port Theatre back in March.

This isn’t any old hockey tournament; this is Hockey Night in Cornwall. Taking place at Nav Canada, this one of a kind event will feature the EA Sports classic, NHL 14. Morrow and his organizers have pretty much thought of everything. “I met Adam Lariviere and Mike Pliss of Mobile Gamers at the Smash the Port tournament. We wanted to combine our love of video games with Cornwall’s love of hockey. This was only natural.” Two tournaments will take place on May 10th, one for single players and the other for doubles. A limit of 30 entrants (one for each NHL team) will be used for the tourney. The night before on the 9th, the entrants will take place in a draft party in order to select their teams. Joseph Boyer from Touch Bass Entertainment will be providing entertainment to keep everybody in the spirit. Another nice touch is Morrow has been working with the staff at Nav Canada with making a drink menu including a one called the Hat Trick.

Each tournament is double elimination and the participants are playing for trophies, $300 in cash, and another $300 in prizes and of course bragging rights. “If this event does well, we would love to make this event annual or even bi-annually if the demand is high enough.” Morrow thinks the event could grow at an exceeding rate. “There has even been talk of a virtual league that could take weekly where we would track stats online.”

All avid video gamers are encouraged to try their hands at the event even if they’re not a hockey fan. “We are hosting these events because we love gaming and we want to help grow the scene in Cornwall. Come out to the event and let us know what you would like to see next.”

Gamers interested in taking part can register online at www.hockeynightincornwall.com and can find the event on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/events/1490330894520327/1497849197101830/

John Wensink, Gerry Cheevers, Terry O’Reilly, Brad Park and others to be in Cornwall for Children’s Treatment Center roast

johnwensinkA few former NHLers will be invading the Best Western in Cornwall, Ontario for a dinner and roast to help support the Children’s Treatment Centre.

The annual dinner and roast benefits the Children’s Treatment Centre in the form of donations and past guests of honor have ranged from prominent Canadian figures to members of parliament. This year will also feature an auction of various hockey items, some donated from Wensink himself.

Of course most of these guys need no introduction. Wensink who is from the Cornwall area, grew up in Maxville, Ontario and spent his junior years with the Cornwall Royals before making the big jump to the show. He also one of the toughest players of his time.

John Wensink, Gerry Cheevers, Terry O’Reilly and Brad Park all took their turns playing with the big bad Boston Bruins of the 1970’s. There will be plenty of reminiscing on hand as this year’s roast will turn to the topic of hockey. Kelly Chase, Rick Middleton and Bob Player are all also slated to attend. Each will be giving a 15 minute speech.

The Children’s Treatment Centre roast will take place next Friday, September 13th.