West Point Hockey Memories:
Over the next few weeks we will be posting first-hand experiences from former players who participated…no, competed in the West Point / RMC hockey series.
Note (1): Click, click for better viewing; (2) 2011 should read 2012; (3) score for 2013 game was 4-1 for West Point.
West Point Hockey – They Were Both Career Building Events
3303, John Neroutsos, Redmen, 1952-54
A 60 Year Memory
Did I ever compete in a West Point/RMC hockey game? This was the reason I applied to RMC, to play hockey and expressly to play in the West Point game (becoming an RCAF pilot was the signing bonus). Growing up in Montreal, this was the hockey series we all knew about. It was always talked about in the same breath as other great collegiate rivalries.
Before getting to the big league, RMC, I first had to attend the hockey outback academy at Royal Roads. I thought to myself, this was no way to treat someone who lived and breathed HOCKEY…. particularly a player from Quebec where we didn’t realize the game was even played west of Maple Leaf Gardens.
Hockey in 1940s was not about coaching clinics, big game attendance or hockey Moms. It was about outdoor rinks, pickup hockey, ice shinny, poor equipment and if you were lucky, organized Junior hockey played at the Montreal Forum.
Today, hockey may have changed at the margins, but collegiate hockey is still the same old game of skill and finesse. The RMC/West Point game, I believe, is proof that hockey can still be played as it was conceived without all the excesses we see in the sport today.
To me, the West Point game was the culmination of a winter season of intercollegiate games. This contest really meant something. You sensed you were playing for country…. CANADA. Sure, the American ice surface was bigger and the penalty rules were different, but that was a traditional wrinkle we thought of as quaint. We were there to play hockey.
We were all awed by the sheer size of the West Point Military Academy, but once on the ice, it was a level playing field. They were good, better than we envisaged. This made the rivalry that much better…as Canadians we thought we owned the game, but it was not so. It was like the Grey Cup and the Stanley Cup rolled up into one package…the biggest game of our lives. Who wouldn’t think this game was special?
This series has lived on because of the institutions that gave it birth. Both are great institutions with immense values that have stood the test of time. These values are more than clean sportsmanship and mutual respect. These shared values are also…. honour, duty and fair play. The originators, Archibald Macdonnell and Douglas MacArthur, both visionaries, understood sport as a vehicle to imbue values, but knew also a thing or two about competition and excellence…so how could this classic not endure, given its roots?
Ed Note: 3303 John Neroutsos entered military college at Royal Roads in 1950 where he completed I & II years. He played left wing during III & IV years. His coach was former NHL player -Yip Radley. One of his regular line-mates was 3300 James Alick Marshall who was also Cadet Wing Commander and later killed in a flying accident shortly after graduation.