Monday, May 07, 2018
John Druce- Leading the Way
The entire village of Wellington, and, dare I say, the whole population of Prince Edward County, have risen to the occasion in support of the Wellington Dukes. The Dukes have already won one big piece of hardware, the Buckland Cup, and are now in Dryden in search of another, the Dudley-Hewitt Cup.
I spoke recently with Randy Uens, the Vice-President of hockey operations for the Dukes. Randy paid tribute to his head coach, John Druce, and to his assistant, Derek Smith. Many Duke fans will remember “Smitty” as a really solid defenceman who moved on to several higher ranks in hockey, including the NHL.
Druce is most famous for an incredible playoff stretch he had with the Washington Capitals. He had split the season between the Baltimore Skipjacks and the Capitals. He played 15 games in the playoffs that year, 1989-1990, and scored 14 goals. In any interview-type situations, that is the first subject that comes up. Druce is tired of it. His pro hockey career began in 1986, following three years with the Peterborough Petes.
He was selected in the second round, 40th overall, by the Capitals, and spent two years with the Binghampton Whalers. The following year he went to the Skipjacks, and spent the next ten years, for the most part in the NHL. He finished his pro career in Germany with Hannover and Augsburg. He scored 113 goals in the NHL, and added 239 assists in 531 regular season games.
His most recent coaching experience, outside Wellington, was with the Cobourg Cougars. He led them to the Royal Bank Cup which they won last spring in Cobourg. He then returned to his other lives in Peterborough, selling for Freedom 55, and involving himself in the restaurant business. A few years ago, John lost his daughter to leukemia. Since that time he has spearheaded research efforts to find a cure through the “Peddle for Hope” organization. Pretty busy guy.
Randy Uens knew John through the old Peterborough hockey connections: Herb Raglan, Steve Chiasson, Brent Tully, to name a few. The town has always been a hockey hotbed, and many NHL players and retirees spend their summers there dropping a line or two in Stony Lake, humming Ronnie Hawkins tunes while they fish.
Last January 4th, Randy was able to convince Druce that it would be a good idea to come to Wellington to finish the season. Which leads us to the present: the round-robin, four team series in Dryden.
On two other occasions, the Dukes have been on the brink of capturing the Canadian Hockey Championship at this level, “Junior A”, once in Prince Edward Island, and once in Alberta.
As they line up on the blue lines for the 2018-2019 season, many Wellingtonians would like to see that Royal Bank Cup banner unfurled at the “DukeDome”.
The games will be shown at the arena in the Highland Hall. I expect to see you there.
April 30, 2018
Thursday, May 03, 2018
Sixty years ago, Mighty Macs ruled Canadian senior hockey
By Paul Svoboda, The Intelligencer
Belleville went bonkers.
Sixty years ago today — May 1, 1958 — the city's senior hockey club, the McFarlands, captured the Allan Cup as national champions and with it, a ticket to Czechoslovakia for the 1959 world championships, which they would also win.
Down 3-1 in the best-of-seven Allan Cup final against the Kelowna Packers, with the entire series played in the Okanagan valley town, the Mighty Macs battled back with three straight wins to claim Canadian senior hockey supremacy. Game 7 ended 8-5 in favour of the MacFarlands and loyal Belleville fans, listening back home on radio, went nuts.
Days later, when the team returned home via cross-Canada train, the lead headline on the front page of The Intelligencer proclaimed: “Fifty thousand welcome Macs home.”
Wearing cowboy hats, which they'd picked up during a stopover in Calgary, the Macs were thrown a victory parade unlike anything Belleville had ever experienced before. Riding in convertibles, players and team officials waved and cheered and hollered along with what appeared to be twice the population of Belleville at that time, all crammed downtown and seemingly delirious with joy.
"Never in the history of this city has Front Street rocked and rolled to the acclaim of thousands,” read The Intelligencer story. “People stood in some places 10 deep, cheering and waving as the motorcade went by.”
Macs goaltender, Gordie Bell, was especially moved by the outpouring of love from Belleville's hockey faithful.
"I think this is the most wonderful reception I've ever experienced,” Bell told The Intelligencer. “I'm very glad we won because I would hate to lose and have to come back and face such a swell bunch of people.”
Team owner, Harvey McFarland, simply called it “the proudest moment of my life.”
Reporter Denny Boyd saluted the Macs and their stunning comeback with these words in a story that appeared in the Vancouver Sun after the Allan Cup final:
"Those Macs, a rag-tag Senior B team two years ago, used courage for a crutch as they plodded up what seemed an insurmountable hill to become the senior amateur hockey champions of Canada. Thursday night, they reached the summit. They defeated the Packers 8-5 with a defeat-defying rally that shook the blossoms of fruit trees for miles around.”
May 1, 1958. A date never to be forgotten in Belleville. The day the city ruled Canadian senior hockey.
• Belleville McFarlands 1958 Allan Cup national championship roster: Eddie Marineau, Jean-Paul Payette, Wayne (Weiner) Brown, Barton Bradley, Keith MacDonald, Lionel Botly, Armand (Bep) Guidolin, Joe Lepine, Keith Montgomery, Davey Jones, Donald (Turk) Barclay, Floyd Crawford (captain), John Muretich, Gordie Bell, Maurice (Moe) Benoit, Russell Kowalchuk, Gerry Goyer, Hilary (Minnie) Menard, Ike Hildebrand (player-coach), Drury Denyes (manager) and Arthur Charlton (trainer).