MINOR HOCKEY

Minor hockey was an intricate part of the hockey history of Buchans since its formation in 1954 by the late Jimmy Hornell and the late T.A. “Gus” Soper. Minor hockey was played in the old rink for six years before moving into the new stadium during the 1961 season. There was a six-team pee-wee league which was named after the original six NHL teams – Toronto, Montreal, Boston, Detroit, New York and Chicago. There was also a four-team bantam league.

During the long winter months in Buchans, minor hockey kept a lot of kids busy. Games and practices were held during the weekdays and on Saturday mornings. The players selected for the all-star teams that played in the provincial tournaments during Easter week, had to attend practice early in the morning before going to school. Many people who grew up in Buchans can recall getting up early in the morning to attend practice at the stadium and, in the early days, at the old rink. One can still shiver when remembering the cold and frosty mornings spent waiting for the stadium or rink to open, then the dash to the dressing room to warm up and get dressed for practice.

As soon as the kids were dressed, they all headed for the ice surface for practice that would last about an hour. After practice was over, everyone undressed as quickly as possible then rushed home to breakfast before heading to school. These practices were usually held in the last few months of the season to give the all-star teams extra ice time of a few hours a week. Many a parent can relate to the hectic schedule, getting the boys out of bed for practice in the early hours of the morning and getting them home in time to clean up and eat breakfast before going off to school. The parents and kids had to have a lot of dedication and perseverance to perform this task two days a week for two months.

In the 1960s, minor hockey was run and supported by the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 19, Local 5457 (U.S.W.A.), the Knights of Columbus and the Lions Club. These organizations supplied all the equipment such as sticks and goalie equipment to one team in each division of minor hockey, as well as the coaches and managers of each team. This was a very successful operating venture of minor hockey. The organizations financed the minor hockey system and little, if any, money was raised by the teams themselves.

In the 1970s, minor hockey was formed as the Buchans Minor Hockey Association under president William Holt. During the late 1960s, Buchans was beginning to be a power at Newfoundland minor hockey tournaments. The first win was a pee-wee B championship in 1967, and the last win was an atom H championship in 1992. In between, Buchans’ teams won a total of 13 provincial championships as well as winning the Veitch Memorial Trophy as the Newfoundland junior champions in 1972. This is a big accomplishment for a small town such as Buchans when one considers that up until the late 1970s, Buchans was competing against the much larger centres in the provincial B Easter tournaments. Besides winning these tournaments, a fair amount of silver and bronze medals were won by Buchans’ teams over the years.

Buchans’ minor hockey is still very much actively involved in the Newfoundland and Labrador Hockey Association’s minor system. While the number of players is down from the early days, hockey is still enjoyed by the kids of Buchans. The reason why the numbers of kids is down is not due to lack of interest in the sport. It is due to a large number of families leaving Buchans after the mines closed down in 1982. Newfoundland Minor Hockey Championships won by Buchans:

Atom B – 1977
Atom H – 1992
Atom G – 1995
Pee-wee B – 1967
Pee-wee B – 1968
Pee-wee B – 1969
Pee-wee B – 1974
Pee-wee G – 1993
Pee-wee H – 1997
Bantam B – 1969
Bantam B – 1970
Bantam F – 1995
Bantam F – 1999
Bantam G – 1998
Midget B – 1969
Midget B – 1972
Midget B – 1977
Midget D – 1980
Midget D – 1982
Midget E – 2000

The C.A.H.A. award for outstanding service to minor hockey was presented to William Holt for the 1982-83 season.
The Buchans junior hockey team won the Veitch Memorial Trophy in 1972.

The N.A.H.A. gold stick award was presented to Hugh Wadden in 1984 for 10 years as an officer and for outstanding contribution to hockey.