Content of the article

Like most small towns in Northern Ontario, hockey stories abound in the local community of Capreol.

Advertising

Content of the article

And while there isn’t a clear and easy-to-trace answer to the question of where exactly the Hawks’ nickname came from – some suggest via local ties to Doug Mohns and others, while a other faction argues that this was just a true appreciation of the look and tradition of the logo itself – there seems to be a consensus that the jerseys first adorned junior teams and city ​​railroad intermediary, then were eventually passed on to the Minor Hockey Association, in large part through the work of Marshall Edwards.

When it comes to the Junior Hawks, however, the history of the team which existed for just over a decade or so is split into two distinct segments: a stretch that stretches from the early 1970s, who considers the Hawks to be part of the Ontario Junior B Hockey League, and a second era starting around 1978, an eight-year window of involvement with the Northern Ontario Junior Level II Hockey League .

What the two had in common was the appeal of adapting to the hometown team for kids who could easily walk to the indoor double rink.

“We’ve always admired the Hawks’ emblem,” suggested 60-year-old sniper Doug Currie Jr., who accumulated 285 points in just 109 games with the Hawks in the early 1980s, at a time when Capreol was near the top. in the league standings, alongside the Onaping Falls Huskies and the Nickel Center Native Sons.

“My dad was drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks. “

Advertising

Content of the article

Yet his love for the Hawks and the game they played ran so much deeper than that.

“The hockey was amazing – and it was everywhere, with the two rinks in Capreol. Every night it was full. With the juniors you wouldn’t think we would have that much of a presence – but everyone showed up. It was exciting playing in our hometown when the rink was full.

Both exciting and memorable, it seems, from vivid recollections of the crowd present.

“My dad always had to stand in one corner and there would be Jimmy Currie and Norm and Joey Currie standing in the opposite corner.

“Every time I walked past the planks, they hit. They would look forward to these Friday night games.

Currie was part of a cohort of Capreol players that included Todd Grenon, Dean Gelinas, Ray Kennedy, Fred Boimstruck and Rob Mazzuca, although the latter two played major junior hockey.

“Dean (Gelinas) has been my center the whole time,” Currie said. “All I had to do was put the puck on him and it was in the net.

The team were coached by none other than longtime OHL scout Doug Bonhomme, a few years from his time as a player at Clarkson University.

“Everyone loved Doug,” Currie said. “He had a good sense of humor, he was always smiling, but boy, has he ever been a skilled hockey player.”

The Hawks drew their skill and speed not only from the city itself, but would often venture into Valley East, welcoming the likes of Mark McColeman, Rick and Alcide Jutras, as well as Bobby Seguin and the smooth skating forward. Kevin Fredette.

Advertising

Content of the article

Ironically, while most of the above went through the VEMHA system and made it to the Hawks, Blezard Valley native Fredette migrated a bit earlier – somewhat out of necessity.

“I started at Capreol in peewee and played until the youthful level,” said the 56-year-old, who had 95 points in 89 games before ending his career with the Sudbury Cubs. “In the Valley, they had their teams formed – so I liked playing against them.”

And even though he didn’t reside on Meehan or Coulson, nor Hanna or Sellwood, Fredette still felt the allure of the local franchise in his youth.

“It was a Capreol Hawks thing, to come into the junior team when you’re old enough,” he said. “We always heard a lot about them growing up; it was a big thing in Capreol.

It’s something goaltender Gerry Lafontaine never expected to experience.

Where most of the players who ultimately donned the jersey were very familiar faces to those following competitive minor hockey at the time, Lafontaine was not.

“I didn’t start playing any type of organized hockey until I was about eight years old,” he said.

“I started out as a defenseman, but I was the youngest in my neighborhood, so I’ve always been a ball hockey goalie. I was pretty good at it, but it’s street hockey.

Ultimately, the illness of a teammate wearing the pads prompted Lafontaine to try his luck as a goalie on skates at the age of 13. A few years later, with some house league hockey under his belt, the Kirkland Lake resident since 1989, who just turned 53, visited the Dwarf Hawks.

Advertising

Content of the article

“It was my first introduction to road hockey and the Capreol community,” he said. “When I was a midget, I got to walk across (the double skate rink) and see these guys (the Junior Hawks) practice. I thought it would be pretty cool to play there.

To his surprise, for about a season and a half, Lafontaine walked the ice for the team. Rather a lightly used replacement for starter Greg Telenko on his first signing, an injury to the No.1 keeper pushed him into action and a whole new world.

“I was young, I was 16 at the time, and I had never really played in front of a crowd – other than family members and everything,” he said with a laugh. “You were kind of treated like rock stars there. You could mingle with the fans after the games.

While some look back and yearn for what could have been, Lafontaine is more than satisfied with the memory of having simply succeeded.

“When you get a little older, a little more mature, you think back and realize that was quite the turn that I managed to play there,” he said.

Sadly, while he didn’t see it coming, the end was near, in terms of franchise. Fredette was part of the final group of the Junior Hawks, ending the 1985-86 season as a member of the Cubs.

“We thought it would continue until the end of the season, but they showed up one day and said, ‘get together, it’s over,'” recalls Fredette. “It was all about the money.”

(For the record, Marshall Edwards noted in a story a few years ago that he closed the franchise while struggling with health issues.)

Yet in most memories, for most of a 10 to 15 year span, it was more of a Hawks thing – and those who experienced it may all too well associate with it. feeling.

Nickel City Nostalgia airs every two weeks on The Sudbury Star.

comments

Postmedia is committed to maintaining a vibrant but civil discussion forum and encourages all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour of moderation before appearing on the site. We ask that you keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications. You will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, if there is an update to a comment thread that you follow, or if a user that you follow comments. Visit our Community rules for more information and details on how to adjust your E-mail settings.