It was 50 years ago today

The hockey community in Powell River probably will be buzzing by April.
The town in British Columbia, just northwest of Vancouver, is gearing up to host the 2002 Allan Cup—a showcase of the top senior men’s ‘AAA’ teams from across the country.
The host Regals are two-time Allan Cup winners, and are looking to unseat the defending champion Lloydminster Border Kings.
But the lustre of the Allan Cup these days certainly is not as strong compared to years past when it was second only to the Stanley Cup in terms of prestige and importance.
If the tourney gets a mention on any national sports programs that weekend, it will be a complete shock to me.
Of course, no local senior teams will be making the trip out west this spring. But something tells me the Allan Cup will be—and most likely always has been—on the minds of the hockey community here this spring.
It was 50 years ago on this day—on March 6, 1952—that the Fort Frances Canadians began their tournament run to the Allan Cup. They opened their best-of-seven “Thunder Bay championship” series with the Fort Wiliam Beavers at the old Memorial Arena on this night.
After beating the Beavers (battling back from a 3-0 deficit), the Letellier Leafs (Winnipeg), and Edmonton Pat’s, the Canadians’ two-month quest ended with a 4-1 win over the Stratford Indians on May 7 in Game 6 to claim the town’s one and only Allan Cup.
Since then, that team has had an arena named after it, a book written about them, and team pictures refurbished for the Memorial Sports Centre’s walls. As the years went on, names like Doc, Gordie, Sambo, Gudge, Whitey, and Ike became synonymous with that championship season.
It was something that could never be changed.
Fort Frances. 1952. Champions.
However, I have to be honest. When I first came to town and heard about this upcoming celebration, I actually chuckled to myself wondering, “Why would one Allan Cup win spark so much interest and pride here?”
You see, I grew up in Thunder Bay when the hometown Twins captured four Cups in the 1980s and no one ever made this much fuss. By the end of the decade, the team had folded—and I don’t think many of us cared.
The more hockey people I spoke to in town and the more former Canadians I met (including Gord Calder, whom I had the pleasure of playing horseshoes with last summer), it became evident their legacy has endured.
So when it was suggested to reprint articles from our archives following the Canadians’ run to the Cup in the coming months, I couldn’t be in more agreement. What better way to honour the past with a simple piece from it.
Celebrating this team’s accomplishment already began in January when the surviving members received a standing ovation from the crowd at the Ice for Kids Arena prior to CBC’s “Hockey Day in Canada.”
Team captain Sambo Fedoruk even was interviewed during a live segment broadcast coast-to-coast.
The celebration will resume Friday when the Borderland Thunder hold a special ceremony to honour the team before their game with the Feathermen Hawks.
A town banquet will be held June 7, and the remaining players are planning a private get-together the following day.
We’ll certainly try to do our part. Please join the Fort Frances Times in the coming weeks as we dig through our pages to bring you words which followed the Canadians to their goal.
As your sports reporter, it will be an absolute pleasure to help review a piece of this town’s hockey past—and hopefully usher in some new, younger fans.
• • •
Our fine shoutouts have kept an eye on those district athletes competing in college and university sports throughout the winter.
A handful of their seasons ended in recent post-season action.
The University of Guelph men’s basketball Gryphons, with Brian Kosowick as student-coach, lost 74-68 to McMaster in the Ontario University Athletic West semi-finals Saturday.
Earlier, Steve Robertson played his final year with the University of Windsor men’s volleyball team, which lost three sets to none to the University of Western in their respective OUA West semi-final
Sarah Noonan’s Rainy River Community College Lady Voya-geurs were upset 57-49 by Vermilion in the Minnesota state tournament. Unfortunately, the Lady Voyageurs also lost their consolation game.
They had gone 20-3 during the season and were a top-five team among all Division III schools in the U.S.
The University of York Yeo-women, featuring Fort Frances native Erin McIvor as their assistant captain, reached the OUA quarter-finals, where they were eliminated by Guelph 4-3.
Finally, John Sivonen’s RRCC men’s basketball team and Karen Harris’ Lakehead University women’s volleyball team failed to make their respective playoffs.
If you are planning any upcoming sporting events or have any sports related information, feel free to call 274-5373 or drop by the office. You can e-mail me at rvillagracia@fortfrances.com

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