Monday, March 23, 2009


A Hockey Night at the Theatre

With less than two weeks to spare, the Belleville Sports Hall of Fame executive is gearing up for its night at the theatre. Essentially, the night is a tribute to the Belleville McFarlands.

In 1958, the team won the Allan Cup in Kelowna, British Columbia. The following year, they travelled to Prague, Czechoslovakia and won the World Championship. This was accomplished the year after the Whitby Dunlops won the title in Oslo, Norway. A squad from Trail, British Columbia, called the Smoke Eaters, also won the title in 1961. At that point, Canada lost its edge and did not mount the podium again until 1994.

On April 4 at the Empire Theatre, hockey fans will have a chance to meet at least eleven of the Belleville McFarlands. In no particular order, here is a list of the players expected to attend:

Lionel Botly-The youngest player on the Macs, Lionel still plays several times a week, when not selling homes for Century 21 in Belleville and Trenton.

Russ Kowalchuk-Russ was truly a fan favourite in the Memorial Arena in Belleville. His style was robust, and he backed away from no one. He joined Bellevillian Gerry Goyer in Kelowna the year after winning the Allan Cup.

Keith MacDonald-In a recent article in The Intelligencer, Keith was described by Bobby Hull as “tougher than a night in jail”. The only player from Prince Edward County, Keith enjoyed several years as an official following his playing days. He remains active in County politics.

Denis Boucher-Boucher joined the Macs for only two games before heading overseas with the team. He returned to play the next season in Belleville. He currently resides in Verdun, Quebec.

Maurice “Moe” Benoit-Moe Benoit was certainly a crowd favourite in Belleville. He had a tremendous shot from the blue line, and his patented hip checks forced opponents to keep their heads up when crossing the blue line. He continued his hockey career in the United States, playing in Toledo, Omaha, and Dayton. He is the only Mac to win a medal in the Olympics, silver in California when the Americans won their first gold.

Jean-Paul Payette-Payette supplied the Macs with plenty of fire power when he was on the ice. A smooth skater, he worked well with linemates like Weiner Brown, Ike Hildebrand, and Barton Bradley. He later played in the NOHA, leading the Noranda Alouettes to the league championship.

Floyd Crawford-Sometimes known as “Pete”, Crawford was the straw that stirred the drink in Belleville. The team captain, he was rock solid on defense throughout his career. He remained in Belleville, and saw three of his sons playing in the NHL. Crawford coached at various levels throughout the province.

David Jones-You must admit that Jones was without question the hard luck guy on the Macs. He broke his neck in the early stages of the Allan Cup finals in Kelowna, then broke his arm in Prague as the finals for the World Championships got under way. He remained in the city and played for several senior clubs in the area.

Wayne “Weiner” Brown-Wayne was always a threat to score every time he was on the ice. He had an elusive style, and usually turned defencemen inside out before firing the puck at the net. He was fortunate enough to play four playoff games for the Boston Bruins early in his career. He continued playing until he was 42.

George “Goose” Gosselin-“Goose” tasted the nectar from the cup in 1958 with the Whiby Dunlops, then joined the McFarlands in 1959 for their triumph. The only other player to join him in this regard was Jean-Paul Lamirande. Gosselin settled into the North Bay area after his playing career.

Pete Conacher-Pete Conacher joined the Macs just before they flew to Europe for the World Championships. He had been retired, but was coaxed out of retirement to help the Macs. He gained his skating legs quickly, scoring key goals in the tourney. He continued playing following his stint with the Macs. A member of Canada’s eminent sports family, he is the son of Charlie Conacher and nephew of Lionel.

Committee members hope to see another fan favourite at the gala-Hilary “Minnie”Menard. A prolific goal scorer, he netted fifty on one occasion with the Macs. He returned to Belleville in 1966 to play his final two seasons with the Senior Mohawks.

There you have it-a final look at the McFarlands. Join us to celebrate this historic event. Tickets are $ 25, and are available by phone from the Empire-613-969-0099, online at, or at the box office. If you cannot get to the theatre, the book and the documentary are available online at:

Hope to see you there.

James Hurst

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