Prior to Western Caps’ game on Saturday night
SUMMERSIDE – There’s bound to be lots of reminiscing on what is expected to be a very nostalgic night at Eastlink Arena on Saturday.
© Submitted photo
Members of the 1953-54 Maritime intermediate hockey champions, Summerside Aces, proudly sport their new team jackets.
A banner will be raised to the rafters marking the 60th anniversary of the 1953-54 Summerside Aces winning the Maritime intermediate hockey championship. The ceremony will precede the MHL (Maritime Junior Hockey League) contest between the Summerside Western Capitals and Dieppe Commandos, scheduled for 7 p.m.
“We were the first team to ever skate on the new Raceway Stadium (later Civic and Cahill Stadium) ice, and the first Maritime championship to come to Summerside after the war,” said Aces founder and coach Layton Schurman, whose grandson, Tim Schurman, is the current head coach of the Western Capitals. “We formed a team at the end of October, we practised a few times in Charlottetown and named them the Summerside Aces.
“We started off with nothing in the pocket, but I held a dance and made I think it was $150. That was enough to buy a set of uniforms, and we were off to the races.”
After a few winters without a rink in Summerside, a new one was scheduled to open in December of that year.
“We didn’t have too much when we started, except a set of uniforms and 14 or 15 fellas who just loved to play hockey,” Schurman went on to say. “We got along well. . . there was no friction and they were just so glad to have a new rink to play in.
“Everything just went off like clockwork to be truthful. We had a great bunch of guys.”
The Aces were comprised of local players whose passion for the sport was unmatched.
“We started off with a nucleus of eight or 10 from Summerside,” said Schurman. “We were looking for a goalkeeper and we ended up with Kensington native Dave McInnis, who played fantastic for us.
“I was short a couple of forwards to finish off three forward lines, so I picked up two players from the South Shore Hockey League who played with the Freetown Royals, Edgar Taylor, a centreman, and Clayton Mill.”
The Aces actually played in two different leagues in their first season. They won the South Shore Hockey League in Bedeque, and also joined the City Hockey League from Charlottetown in January 1954, playing teams like Prince of Wales College, the Charlottetown Abbies and St. Dunstan’s.
“We didn’t have too much when we started, except a set of uniforms and 14 or 15 fellas who just loved to play hockey. We got along well. . . there was no friction and they were just so glad to have a new rink to play in. Everything just went off like clockwork to be truthful. We had a great bunch of guys.” Summerside Aces founder and coach Layton Schurman
“We ended up losing the (league) final to the Abbies that year,” recalled Schurman. “We also entered our team with the Maritime Hockey Association in the intermediate B class, and we were fortunate enough to win the Island championship.
“We went on to play the Fredericton Merchants and beat them 7-2, and ended up playing the Antigonish Bulldogs (in the Maritime championship). Both were sudden-death games, and both were held at Civic Stadium. . . We won the Maritime championship and never left our home ice.”
Crowds of 2,000 fans flocked to the new rink to cheer on the Aces in the Maritime playoffs.
“We had good crowds all winter at Civic Stadium in the City League,” said Schurman. “We played our games on Friday night. The stores were open and once the stores closed at nine o’clock we started at 9:15. We’d have 800 to 1,000 every Friday night.”
Schurman kept the team going for five or six years, and the Aces also won the 1958-59 Maritime intermediate championship.
“As far as I know those are the only two intermediate (hockey) championships post-war to ever come to Summerside,” said Schurman. “I don’t think there were any after that.”
Schurman said there are nine members of the ’53-54 Aces living, and he expects half a dozen to attend Saturday.
“They were all working fellas,” said Schurman. “They would go to work and then rush out to the rink to play hockey.
“There was no money involved. We had a little bit of gas money and at the end of the season we had enough money to get a team picture taken, buy each one of the boys a jacket and I think we kept something like a $100 to start the team next year.”