Sunday, February 08, 2009


The Road to the World Championship

From the photo, celebrating the Allan Cup victory in Kelowna: (Back row, left to right) Barton Bradley, Dave Jones, Ike Hildebrand, Floyd Crawford.

Foreground: Russ Kowalchuk

The Road to the
World Championship

In their first year of existence, the Belleville McFarlands were runners-up to the Whitby Dunlops. The Dunlops went on to win the Allan Cup in 1957, earning the right to represent Canada in the World Championships in 1958.

In 1957-58, the McFarlands hoped to move up in the standings from the previous year. They had finished in third place, and had eliminated the Cornwall Chevies in the playoffs.

Two men were instrumental in the formation of the squad that went on to win the Allan Cup the following spring-Drury Denyes, team manager, and Ike Hildebrand, playing coach.

They began the year by signing key players from the year before: Goalie Gordie Bell, defencemen Moe Benoit, Floyd Crawford, and Lionel Botly, and forwards Jean-Paul Payette, Minnie Menard, Johnny Muretich, Keith MacDonald and Davey Jones. Turk Barclay filled two positions, backup goalie, and trainer.

They then added several players from across the country. From the west came Wayne “Weiner” Brown, born in Deloro but then playing in the Western Professional League, and Barton Bradley. The versatile Eddie Marineau came from the North Shore League of New Brunswick and the Pembroke Lumber Kings. Keith Montgomery from the Peterborough area, and Tony Poeta from North Bay were added to the club. Belleville’s own Gerry Goyer, a member of the well-known athletic Goyer family played the two previous years with Guelph Biltmore’s Junior “A” club.

Rugged Russ Kowalchuk came over from the Soo Indians. Later in the season Armand “Bep” Guidolin joined the team after an illustrious career in the NHL. No other player younger than Guidolin has ever started in the NHL. He was 16 when he first skated with the Boston Bruins.

They began the exhibition season by trouncing the Kitchener-Waterloo Dutchmen 4-1. The Dutchmen had won the Western Division Championship the previous year, and also had won the World Title in 1956. The Macs then strung together wins over Cornwall, Peterborough TPT’s-the Junior “A” squad, the powerful St. Catherines Teepees and the Louisville Rebels of the International League.

The Macs were attempting to follow in the footsteps of the Dunlops. The Dunnies had won the Eastern League of the Senior “A” loop, knocked off the Dutchmen from the west, and went on to defeat the North Bay Trappers and the Spokane Chiefs to win the Allan Cup.

Even the booster club was styled after the one in Whitby. In a matter of weeks, more than a thousand members were on board, touting red berets, shouting “More Macs More”, and tucking a few hundred bucks in the till. The booster club paid the $ 500 to get Barton Bradley to come east with the club.
Picton’s Mayor, Harvey J. McFarland had thrown his support behind the club. He often spent his time in the press box with George H. Carver, the congenial editor of the Ontario Intelligencer, and Jack Devine, radio broadcaster with CJBQ.

Coach Hildebrand kept himself in top shape during the off-season as one of Canada’s premier lacrosse players. He played for the Toronto Marlboroughs in 1948-49, then jumped into professional hockey with the Los Angeles team in the Pacific Coast League. He went to Kansas City for a stint, then on to the Cleveland Barons of the American Hockey League. In 1953-54, he played for the Chicago Black Hawks and the New York Rangers in the NHL. In 1954-55, he played for the Hawks and the Montreal Royals.

The Macs played against the other teams in the Eastern Loop: Whitby, Pembroke, Cornwall, and Kingston. They also had a couple of home games against the Ottawa-Hull Canadiens, a flashy group who wore Habs jerseys, leading us to dream that we were just that close to watching the NHL.

Those were the Macs who came home from Kelowna with the Allan Cup in 1958.

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