|Many played later for Junior "B" Huskies (David Mizuguchi collection)|
The Chapleau Junior "B" Huskies were off to a fast start in the 1970-71 season finding themselves "all alone in top spot" after two weeks of play in the International Junior "B" Hockey League, according to Keith 'Buddy' Swanson, who doubled as hockey writer for the Chapleau Sentinel and team manager at the time.
The Huskies had four wins and no losses after defeating their archrivals the Wawa Travellers at the Chapleau Memorial Arena 7-3, followed by a "thrilling" 5-3 win in Wawa on Sunday afternoon on the first weekend in November.
Both wins were "keyed up by their already high scoring trio of Pat Swanson, Ernie Chambers and Garry Prusky" who accounted for 10 of 12 goals, Buddy wrote.
Buddy also gave credit to the blue line brigade which was outstanding with lapses being few and far between.
As I read Buddy's coverage of the games 43 years later, I could not help but recall our road hockey games in the general environs of Aberdeen Street where he would play and do the play by play at one and the same time.
Also, I was refereeing in the International Junior "B" League and Buddy and I played a little game with each other. As long as he was in the stands commenting on the general lack of quality of my officiating, even though he was the team's manager, there was little I could do about it.
However, one night, he made a mistake and went on the bench where he picked up his usual refrain, and very quickly I gave him a game misconduct, forcing him to the team's dressing room for the rest of the night. We remained friends!
Those really were great days and a cavalcade of cars would leave Chapleau for games on the road especially to Wawa.
Back to the action! Buddy noted that the line of Allan Pellow, Richard Lacroix and Jim Morin had their moments in the Saturday night matchup but with no luck around the net in either game. The third line with "hustling" Maurice Blais skating between wingers Steve Prusky and Terry Bryson more than held their own any time coach Earle Freeborn sent them over the boards.
David McAdam gave the Huskies steady goaltending and in the second game of the weekend Billy Westerman played admirably when called upon.
Garry Prusky was the "spark plug" on Saturday as he "cashed two shots to put the Huskies ahead 2-0 after the first." Brother Doug Prusky picked up assists on both of the "picturesque plays". Ernie Chambers connected early in the second frame.
Pat Swanson and Richard Lacroix upped the Huskies margin to 5-1 before the second ended while Jim Cannon scored for Wawa.
Garry Prusky finished off his hat trick 25 seconds into the third.
Steve Prusky scored his first Junior "B" goal when his 70 foot slapshot zoomed past Real Samson in the Wawa goal. Over the years Steve became famous for his zooming slapshots after he started playing defence.
In the 1970-71 season Steve also played for the Chapleau Midgets where brother Garry was the manager. I was the coach and we had to plan Midget games around the Junior "B" schedule, but it was never a problem.
In the Sunday match in Wawa, Pat Swanson continued his "torrid scoring pace" and "blinked the light twice" in the first period giving the Huskies a 2-0 lead.
Ernie Chambers rammed home Chapleau's third goal for a 3-0 lead but Gary Varin responded for Wawa.
With mere seconds left in the second period trouble erupted, and when it all cooled down, the Huskies were minus Garry Prusky and goaltender David McAdam with game misconducts. Buddy described it as a "violent fight" behind the Huskies goal.
The Travellers stormed to the attack with Gary Varin scoring two more goals but the defence of Wayne Murphy, Doug Prusky, Terry Higuchi and Tom Laframboise held their ground.
Richard Lacroix made one of his patented end to end rushes, passing to Ernie Chambers who scored and then followed up as he skidded a backhander the length of the ice to clinch things for Chapleau with 33 seconds left.
The Junior "B" Huskies started play in the International Junior "B" Hockey League in the 1966-67 season when they won the league and Northern Ontario Hockey Association championships. Lorne Riley started as coach with Buddy as manager but they reversed roles when Lorne was unable to continue. Tom Welch was the other founder of the team.
Teams for the 1970-71 season were Chapleau, North Shore, Soo Rapids, Soo Indians, Elliot Lake and Wawa.
Those really were the days, and on those cold winter nights in the Chapleau Memorial Arena, the community came together with crowds of 1,000 plus very common.
Thanks to Doug Greig for sending me Buddy's account of the games. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org