T.A. “Gus” Soper (1909 – 1980) was a name synonymous with hockey throughout the province, especially in Buchans and central Newfoundland. He was born February 15, 1908 at Freshwater, Carbonear.
He moved to Grand Falls in 1917 where his love affair with hockey started. He started as a rink rat, then ticket seller and skate sharpener. While at Grand Falls, he played club hockey as a goaltender with the Scouts, winning a championship in 1927. He went on to play goal for Grand Falls against Buchans in 1930. Gus also participated in other sports, as a catcher for the Scouts’ baseball team, and in track, as a sprinter.
Gus moved to Buchans in 1935 upon securing employment as a timekeeper at the Buchans mine. He immediately became associated with sports and devoted his spare time to hockey, baseball, track and field and working mainly with the youth. From 1945 to 1966, he served as treasurer of the Buchans Social and Athletic Club, an organization that sponsored and fostered all sporting activities in Buchans until 1966.
Gus was the manager of the Buchans senior hockey team from 1945 to 1970, and was instrumental in producing many excellent hockey teams. His teams won the Herder Memorial Trophy a total of five times. He was also instrumental in bringing the first senior hockey import players to Buchans in 1948. This established a trend that invigorated and improved the standard of senior hockey in Newfoundland for decades. Gus also worked as manager of the Buchans Stadium from 1960 to 1973.
Gus and the late Jimmy Hornell organized minor hockey in Buchans in 1954 and Gus remained active in minor hockey until his retirement in 1973. Although working full time with the mining company, Gus spent countless hours working with, encouraging and counseling the youth of the community in all types of endeavours.
Gus acted as the Buchans delegate to the N.A.H.A. from 1944 until 1970 and became an expert on the N.A.H.A. constitution. He was also Central vice-chairman for senior hockey a number of times. Gus made the motion to the N.A.H.A. that they should affiliate with the C.A.H.A.
His most memorable moments included winning the Herder for the first time, and crashing in a Beaver aircraft with four members of the Buchans senior hockey team on a return trip from a hockey series in Corner Brook.
Gus Soper will long be remembered by the people of Buchans for his work, honesty, dependability and straightforwardness, and especially his dedication to the community. The stadium in Buchans is named after this man who devoted himself to hockey.