SUMMERSIDE — They were a Cinderella team, one no one thought would amount to much but would surprise many by going on to win the Maritime championship.
The Summerside Junior Legionnaires, the city’s first junior ‘A’ squad, is the topic of discussion of the latest in a series of history circles hosted by the Summerside and Area Historical Society’s.
“It’s the 50th anniversary of winning the Maritime title,” said Grant Grady, who coached the championship team. “It was all just local talent that came together and made a hockey team. They just melded together and made a good hockey team. It just grew from there.”
In its first year, the rag-tag bunch of amateur hockey players would win the Island title and go on to win the Maritime championship, unheard for a rookie team.
The team, comprised of local hockey players ranging in age from 16 to 20, had what many call a storybook season, exceeding everyone’s expectations, even their own.
The team included Donnie Campbell, who played at Memorial University and who is father of Olympic women’s hockey gold medalist Cassie Campbell-Pascall, and Paul MacWilliams, who skated with the Halifax Junior Canadiens.
Earlier this week, Grady, along with former Legionnaires, George Dalton and Allen Gaudet, who scored the overtime goal that won the team the Maritime championship, got together to reminisce about their glory days.
“We played against all the tough guys from Borden and Tignish and Alberton,” said Dalton. “It was some pretty rugged hockey. We didn’t even have a junior league to play in but that’s why we were so successful. No one was going to intimidate us.”
There were stories about how, while playing in the semi-finals in Moncton, the team was practically chased out of town, their tires slashed in the parking lot, and how, after winning the championship in Sydney, N.S, the players were told by the mayor it was best they not attend the planned victory party.
“The chemistry just came together. It was amazing,” said Dalton. “We had a system that was instilled in us. Some didn’t like it at first. Once we became successful, they bought into Grant’s theory in hockey and the rest was history.”
The history circle goes Monday, 10 a.m. to noon, at the Summerside Legion.