Onaping Oldtimers Hockey: Part 1

BY ELLARD DURLING

In 1955, a group of dedicated young athletes came together to form a hockey team called the Hardy Falcons. In the early years, the team roster consisted of Falconbridge employees, and the intent was to play a game of hockey with colleagues, enjoy a few beers, and have some laughs.

The first games were played on Sunday mornings at the Sudbury Sportsman League in Falconbridge. The boys from Onaping would load equipment and themselves into cars early and travel to Falconbridge to play their counterparts. Their coach was Bill Nichols. Early members of the team were Ellard Durling, Lawrence Belec, Ron Green, Bill Gordon, Gene Barkett, Russ Beaudry, Ron Decou and Alton Evans.

To this day Ellard has remained active in keeping this team and its spirit alive. While the faces and venues have changed over the years, one aspect has not changed, and that is the spirit of good fun camaraderie and good clean hockey.

In the 1960s, the team quit travelling to Falconbridge (because Moffats went out of business) and started playing hockey at the Levack Arena. Here games were arranged between the Onaping and Levack teams utilizing ‘oldtimers rules’. Some games were held at open-air rinks for the Winter Carnivals where the change rooms were the players cars and it was so cold the ice surface cracked.

Players who joined during the 60s were Don Fife, Vic Butkevitch, Chummy White, George Lamothe, Ray Landry, Larry Watkinson, Ernie Domenico, Ted Holmes, Van van Buskirk, Sam Waytowich, Paul Labine, Al Barry, Bob Corrigan, Keith Winn, Rick Allair and Oliver Toppi. Entering into the 1970s, the oldtimers played various exhibition games against Falconbridge’s Toronto Office and also assisted in the development of the local Minor Hockey League and Winter Carnival.

In the 70s, this group of gentlemen became known as the Wednesday Niter Oldtimer Hockey Club and drafted the likes of John Hancock, Dan Besserer, Bill Terrick, Bill Shaver, Pat Gougeon, Len Rivest, Hector Sloan, Ray Leverre, Mickey Allair, Jim Nerpin, Robert Jussila, Don Cornett and Paul Severin. The next decade, the team kept getting together and selected the teams based on who would show up to each outing.

The 80s were extremely good years for the Oldtimers and many talented players joined the ranks. Big names that were drafted in the 80s were Jack Miller, Rick Landry, Jack Corrigan, Graham Marshall, David Beaudry, Arnold Pechkoff, Bert Leadbeater, Roy Bishop, Mark Mooney, Ron Sarazin, George Watier, Doug Armstrong and Vic McDonald.

Now into the 1990s and over four decades of excellent sportsmanship and camaraderie, the club had flourished and now the sons are coming on stream. Joining the ever-increasing brotherhood of the Wednesday Niters are such names as Matti Hawryluk, Bo Thomson, Barry Scully, Shawn Byrne, Brendan Byrne, Jay Gordon, Oscar Whalen, Tim Durling, Keith Trott, Sandy McDonald, Jack Lampi, Paddy O’Byrne, Boo Lappan, Doug Armstrong, Larry Whalen, Alex Rouleau and Steve Bastien.

Anyone who has ever had the pleasure of playing Wednesday Niter Hockey can attest to the fact that it is the most fun you can have while playing hockey.

To be continued in the May 2019 issue of the Onaping Falls News!