‘The Brute’ fell hard while the crowd cheered!

Our heroes have always been hockey players (not cowboys as in the old song) and Ed (Sonny) Kryzanowski, although not an Allan Cupper here, has long been a legend—ever since the night he threw a ferocious body check into Brute Bretto!
Our Canadians then were early in their annual campaigns to become the senior hockey champions of all Canada. Playing their Northern league games against the Iron Range teams of Eveleth, Hibbing, and Duluth, they were being terrorized by “The Brute,” who was one of several former big leaguers on those American lineups.
Brute loved to line up little Vernon O’Donnell, one of our greatest scorers of all time, and “Blackie” would take a terrific pounding from this tyrant. For that matter, the majority of our team was smaller in size than whoever they met, but the Brute was an outstanding bully!
Enter Kryzanowski, in a game I never witnessed because I was still away at college. But Benny Beck was there that night (later he would suit up as a regular defenceman himself in the Allan Cup lineup), and he remembers how hard the Brute got hit himself in our old Nelson Street “barn.”
It would be about 1947 or ’48 when the collision occurred and I don’t remember Bretto ever taking to the ice against us after that.
Kryzanowski was an old friend of mine from high school days and just about the strongest athlete you could name in any sport. For instance, Dave Brockie, who pitched for our baseball team in the old Victoria Avenue ballpark, recalls catching a very hard pitch from Sonny, and others of that era always say the same.
Ed also played high school football with me, but I believe his main game had to be hockey because he turned professional eventually for the Boston Bruins in the NHL.
Early in his pro career, he was home for Christmas and invited to help play against the Eveleth Rangers where Brute was always waiting. There would be a full house crowd that night and the din of all that cheering must have almost raised the roof when Sonny did his stuff.
Bretto was big—real big they say—and Sonny, although of a sturdy build, probably never exceeded 175 pounds or so in his hockey days and stood no taller than 5’9”. And having seldom appeared with the Fort Frances team except probably in practice sessions, few fans knew what to expect from him—until it happened.
It sounds as if he used the momentum of a Bretto rush to augment his own attack! And there were spectators present wondering right away how the ice itself withstood the impact of Bretto’s tremendous fall without cracking open.
I’ve never heard since whether the Brute ever appeared again in our rink after that—or even whether Sonny played here again either. He was being kept busy by Boston. We would hear of him sometimes, yet the radio reports were not always available and there was no TV for sports in those years (although all followed the sports pages).
In any case, Vernon (Blackie) O’Donnell never had to live in fear of his live any more after that memorable night here.
Sonny missed all those big senior hockey campaigns, being so busy with his own pro career. But I hope he got out with our guys once in a while for practice after the night he cooled the Brute.
I became his friend early when we played football for coach Jim Terry in high school against Kenora and Ed roomed with me once at the home of my parents’ friends in Kenora—and we defeated Kenora that year, too.
Later, I purchased his lake home at the Seven Mile Bridge and he showed us around it, although I dealt with his successor there.
More recently, he phoned me from Atikokan, which was his recent home. Sonny wanted to know whether we had any young girls’ hockey teams here yet because he had been coaching girls and wondering about possibly arranging games here in his old hometown.
We had no girls’ hockey here yet. But now we have several girls’ teams, including three for the young Allison girls who are my granddaughters.
So time goes on and on in our rinks and our teams are all memorable for anyone with experience on them. And our NHL’ers here have increased since the times of Eddy and our Allan Cuppers, but think back over half-a-century if you can and recall the night Brute Bretto went down so hard!
• • •
Reports keep varying but imagine flying as thousands of miles per hour in that supersonic “Ram Jet.” If I ever get invited, I will have to decline, definitely.
Why, that kind of speed could absolutely demolish you.
• • •
Bob Cottam, “The man in the plaid am” one of our best-known tourist operators from Nestor Falls, was telling me he is now a contented resident of Emo.
• • •
During a vacation flight to Freeport, in the Bahamas, several years ago, I ventured to ask the pilot about the Devil’s Triangle, also called the Bermuda Triangle, which has received a notorious reputation for destroying ships, airplanes, and hundreds of lives.
The pilot answered quickly, “We’re above it right now!”
This was a memory to go with a TV program last week which reported thousands of fatalities in that area, including Second World War losses of pilots.
Anytime the “Triangle” is discussed, there are strange explanations such as a magnetic field below the ocean which could be the source of all those UFOs of several years ago.
Also, the rock formations seen on the ocean floor could be the sunken continent of Atlantis and some scary idea come out of this connection, also.
The western corner of that region reached out to Florida and much of the “Triangle” lies eastward. It has had terrifying aspects through history, but one school of thought claims there is a U.S. military connection.
If you have the right kind of imagination, think about magnetic apparitions, “worm holes” in space can be mixed in—and Albert Einstein, the old science genius, mentioned a “cosmic doorway” there.
But fogs and mists are so plentiful, it seems hard to get a fix on the main problems.
Yet the more the “Triangle” gets studied, the more startling it becomes, especially since it could be a U.S. “security area.” And never mind that American military planes are among the losses there.
Also, the losses have hit appalling figures in the thousands. Yet we don’t get much about all that in our daily news these days.

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