SPORTS AT RMC IN THE POST-WAR ERA #8
A Core Sport: HOCKEY Part 1
By 3201 Austen (Aus) Cambon, Cadet Wing Sports Officer, RMC 1953-54
Businesses have core products, institutions of higher learning have core programs and when they have sports programs and teams competing in intercollegiate leagues they tend to focus on their core sports. Hockey has been a core sport at RMC for a very long time. In the early 1900s RMC teams won intercollegiate championships in hockey (1904, 1905, 1906), in football (1909, 1910, 1911) and in tennis (1909, 1910). In those days the cadets also excelled in cricket, gymnastics and track and field.
The place of origin of the first game of ice hockey has given rise to a number of claimants to that piece of Canadian hockey history. We will accept the long-standing claim that Kingston was the municipality and RMC the site. From Dr. Preston’s “Canada’s RMC”: “It has been claimed that ice hockey was invented in Canada by British army officers who had formerly played field hockey. Kingston, as one of the garrison towns, is a strong contender for the honour because Lake Ontario is a natural rink close to the heart of the city. The first formal game in Canada is said to have been played between Queen’s College students and RMC cadets on the ice in the harbor in 1888. A stick and cube-shaped puck from that game are now on display in the Queen’s gymnasium. One year after that game the RMC commandant asked for the construction of a hockey ‘court’.”
In the post-war era hockey was prominent soon after the College’s re-opening in 1948. The relatively small enrollment levels in those early years sometimes meant that hockey players on the team were simply “unavailable” to play because they were also playing on the football team when the seasons for those two sports over-lapped. There is so much that we could recall about the hockey teams of the day. We will save “THE WEST POINT SERIES” for our next issue. For now let’s look back to the early 1950’s:
VARSITY / SENIOR HOCKEY
In the 1950-1951 hockey season the Varsity / Intercollegiate team was coached by “Yip” Radley. The team was passionately supported in many ways by Dr. George Stanley, one of our very fine Professors. Dr. Stanley would later gain fame for his role in the creation our new Canadian flag and also for becoming Lieutenant-Governor of New Brunswick. Members of the College’s Varsity Football Team were also prominent on this hockey team: Don Green, Johnny Waterston, Terry Hoffman, Ned Mundell and Walt Scott. The team “had its most successful season since the reopening of the College with only two losses is a seven game schedule, ending up tied for second place in the Ottawa – St. Lawrence Conference”. The other teams in the Conference were: Loyola, McGill, Bishop’s, Sir George Williams, Carleton and MacDonald College. “The team showed an abundance of teamwork, spirit and ability.” Repeatedly mentioned in the game reports: Team Captain Dave Hargraft, defence leader Ross Hamlin, Tad Dowsley, Bud White, Don Green, Glyn Osler, George Cumyn, Walt Scott and, especially, star goalie Rod Hull. In the future, Rod would be recognized in the Canadian legal community for his lead in establishing Estate Litigation as a specialty area of Law.
In the 1951-1952 hockey season the College, for the first time, entered a team in both the Senior and Junior City Leagues. With additional players including Bill Hough, Bugs Farrell, and Larry Grace the RMC team did very well playing against more experienced players, winning three games, tying one and losing three. Christmas exams at the College forced the team to withdraw from the playoffs in the league. After Christmas the team competed in the Ottawa-St. Lawrence Conference against strong competitors in the Conference (Queen’s, Bishop’s, McGill, Loyola). Our team managed only two wins, one tie and suffered four losses. Some strengthening of the team indicated. An exhibition game against Clarkson College in northern New York State at Potsdam was close for two periods with Hargraft and Hull playing well but the cadets could not handle Clarkson in the third period and suffered an 8-2 loss, consoled a bit by the fact that Clarkson had 13 Canadians playing on their team. The team continued the weekend playing against a highly-talented St. Lawrence University team in a wide-open game that ended in a 12-5 loss for RMC.
In 1952-1953 hockey season Coach Radley had to re-build following the loss of six players to Graduation. This would be a repetitive challenge for cadet teams in all sports but it also opened up opportunities for players on the Junior squad to move up to Senior. Some fine players came on board. Incoming from Royal Roads: Alick Marshall, and John Neroutsos. And from the recruit class: Terry Yates (“a classy centre”), Clint Justice and John Rutherford (“two good defencemen”), Bill McMurtry, and Bob Sexsmith.
Entering the Senior City League again, the team went undefeated until Christmas exams again forced the team to withdraw from being in the League playoffs. In Ottawa – St. Lawrence Conference play the team won three, tied one, and lost two. Glyn Osler had quite a game against Carleton, scoring four goals, indicating that the team certainly had some scoring punch this season. In a home-and-home exhibition series with the University of Toronto the cadets were outmatched in both games. In a game at the Community Centre the team played a well-conditioned Kingston Police team, losing 4-3 in an exciting fast-moving match. Hugh Garrard and four other Juniors joined the Seniors for this game.
In the 1953-1954 hockey season Coach Petty Officer Rowland faced a rebuilding challenge following the loss to Graduation of five of last year’s stalwarts. “However, with such starry players as Terry Yates, Doug Sexsmith and Jerry Donahue back again, the task was not as formidable as one might think.” The team played again in the Kingston Senior City League and this time continued into the playoffs after Christmas exams, but they were defeated in the semi-finals three games to two. With a tough Intermediate Intercollegiate schedule ahead the team did not have exhibition games at the Intercollegiate level before the schedule began. However, in a game early in the season against the Kingston Limestones, won 6-0 by RMC, McMurtry, Hamlin, Marshall, and Neroutsos all scored goals and Donahue added a pair. The team had given notice that it had some fire power. In the Ottawa- St. Lawrence Conference (Carleton, McGill, Queen’s, Sir George Williams, Loyola, Bishop’s and C.M.R.) RMC registered four wins, a tie, and suffered only two losses, not quite enough wins to lead the Conference.
In the 1950-1951 season the Junior Team, coached by Yip Radley, “had a good season’s play in the Kingston City Junior Hockey league” winning three games and losing three. The team was edged out in the playoffs by Queen’s 4-3 in an overtime game. George Cumyn was prominent on offence, as was Ross Hamlin on defence and Rod “Turk” Hull in goal in League games and they were also prominent in an exhibition game in mid-season against Trinity College in Port Hope. The Christmas exam results “left the team in a sorry condition” It was disbanded, but eight of the Junior players moved up to play for the Seniors after Christmas.
The 1951-1952 season was a really successful one for the team and for the College. Playing in the Kingston and District Junior City League the team went undefeated in league competition (Napanee, Kingston Frontenacs, and Queen’s) and edged Queen’s in a two-game total-goals playoff series 4-3. THIS GAVE RMC ITS FIRST POST-WAR ERA HOCKEY CHAMPIONSHIP. The team also went undefeated in two exhibition games on the road, tying Ashbury College in Ottawa and tying T.C.S. in Port Hope. “Sargant (Team Captain) was outstanding as a rushing defenceman, Sexsmith (who also played on the Senior squad) proved his versatility by playing all forward positions, Griffin-Beale, Hamlin, and Beauparlant showed their scoring ability and Phelan was sensational in many games in net.” The College had in this Junior Team just what it needed: talent for “reinforcement and replacement”.
The 1952-1953 season saw the Juniors retaining their Kingston Junior City League title. Playing an abbreviated schedule the team met the Westport Flyers who were thought to be “the team to beat” in the semi-final. The Juniors completely outclassed the Flyers winning 11-2 with Doug Sexsmith scoring five goals. The team went on to defeat Queen’s twice in the final round to earn the championship title once again. The success this year was attributed to “well-coordinated team play” and the fine contribution of a lot of players including “Tony Phelan, always dependable and often brilliant in goal; on defence, John Rutherford, Norm Kelly, and Clint Justice playing solid two-way hockey; the forward lines of Beauparlant, Bird, Soutar, and Sexsmith, Yates, McMurtry, and Marshall, Neroutsos, McGregor providing a strong well-balanced attack. This team was perhaps our best hockey team in the fifties. The team’s season also included a newly-established home-and-home series between RMC Juniors and CMR. RMC won in Kingston 4-1 and CMR won at Saint-Jean 5-3. A nicely-balanced result.
In the 1953-1954 season the Juniors played once again in the Kingston Junior City League and got off to a great start with wins over the Kingston Grads and Queen’s. However disaster struck in their next game against Queen’s. Justice suffered a broken collarbone and Sexsmith severely injured a knee. Both of these stalwarts were out for the rest of the season. Argue was strong for the cadets in goal. Cumine had quite a game against the Kingston Grads with four goals and five assists and Yates had a pair of hat tricks in games against Queen’s. Despite this scoring power RMC lost to Queen’s in a four-game play-off series. In the team’s only exhibition game, played at the RCAF Station at St. Jean in a new rink but on a very small ice surface, RMC won the “bitterly fought game 3-2 on a last-minute goal by Sexsmith”.
The Juniors always delivered a high level of energy and that “never-say-die” spirit so fundamental to achieving success. The incentive for promotion to the Seniors helped, too. Thank you, Juniors!
Coming soon: HOCKEY Part 2: “THE WEST POINT SERIES”, RIFLE & PISTOL and more. Feedback, Please!
3201 Austen (Aus) Cambon, RMC Class of ’54, Cadet Wing Sports Officer 1953-54