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Barons

Baron History

 

The old Barons joined the troubled original Western Jr. “B” League in 1961. When the league became the Southern Ontario Junior A Hockey League in 1968, the Barons came with them and changed their name in 1970 to the Elgins. The Southern Ontario Junior A Hockey League was a Tier II Junior A ice hockey that lasted from the late 1960s until 1976 in Southern Ontario, Canada. …

In 1969, the Barons won the Western Ontario Junior “A” Championship. As per their league’s agreement with the Western Canada Hockey League, the Barons were shipped out to Flin Flon, Manitoba to face off against Bobby Clarke and the WCHL Champion Flin Flon Bombers is a best-of-7 series for National bragging rights. The Bombers won the first three games. The Barons forfeited game four, leaving during the second period and citing violent play by the Bombers — conceding the championship. The Western Hockey League is one of the three hockey Major Junior Tier I leagues which constitute the Canadian Hockey League. … Flin Flon, Manitoba-Saskatchewan (pop. … Robert Earle Bobby Clarke OC (born August 13, 1949 in Flin Flon, Manitoba) is a retired Canadian professional ice hockey player and former general manager of the Philadelphia Flyers. … The Flin Flon Bombers are a Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL) team based in Flin Flon, Manitoba, Canada. …

The Elgins folded in 1973, but resurrected in as the Colonels the next season in the Central Junior C Hockey League. In 1976, the team was moved up to the shortlived “Southwestern Ontario Junior “B” Hockey League”. When the Southwestern died, the Colonels jumped to the new “Western League” and changed their name to the Pests in 1980. As expected, the Pests was considered a horrible name and was changed to the Stars in 1984. The Stars are a consistent and strong team in the Western Ontario Jr B Hockey League, and compete to this day. Georgian Junior C The Georgian Mid Ontario Junior C Hockey League is a Junior C ice hockey league in Ontario, Canada, sanctioned by the Ontario Hockey Association. …

 

Season-by-Season Results

Season

GP

W

L

T

OTL

GF

GA

P

Results

Playoffs

1964-65

40

20

18

2

213

206

42

4th WOJBHL

1965-67

Western Jr. B Standings Not Available

1967-68

50

25

22

3

297

241

53

3rd WOJBHL

1968-69

56

37

18

1

255

178

75

1st WOJAHL

Won League, Lost National Final

1969-70

63

31

21

2

245

236

64

3rd WOJAHL

1970-71

44

13

26

5

205

270

31

5th SOJAHL

 

1968-69 Barons Roster

1968-69 St. Thomas Barons [WOJAHL]

 

Regular Season

Playoffs

#

Player Name

Birthdate

Age

Pos.

GP

G

A

Pts

PIM

GP

G

A

Pts

PIM

6 Dennis Desrosiers 1949-03-28 19 R
2 Bob Vandenberghe
21 Stan Worosz From Brantford G
4 Jim Pinnegar
19 Brian Stephenson
5 Ken Murray 1948-01-22 20 D
8 Glen Crysler
16 Hal Kewley
15 Rick Howie 1948-04-24 20 C
1 Ron Marlow 1948-02-10 20 G
10 Doug Macaulay
12 Paul Thomas
14 Ron Lane
11 Jack Criel 1947-07-12 21 D
21 Bob Bishop
7 Peter Fraser
20 Mayo Paquette
17 Brian Randall L
3 Fin Melville
9 Al Lennox
1 Art Fraser G
14 Ron Anderson 1948-11-15 19 D
18 Craig Cook
Totals

 

Barons in the NHL

Rick Foley

Ken Murray

Keith Kewley

Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2005.

The name Kewley is synonymous with Scottish ice hockey of the 1940s and 1950s. Toronto sports journalist Claude Kewley was the Canadian scout of the Scottish Ice Hockey Association, responsible for selecting the line-ups of the seven teams of the Scottish National League until 1949. Four of his six sons were to play successfully in Scottish ice hockey – Keith, Herb, Hal and Danny.

William Keith Kewley, born at Stratford, Ontario on July 10, 1925, was to be the driving force behind the winning of major trophies at 3 different clubs in the 1940s/50s – as Captain and then Coach of Dunfermline Vikings, and as Coach to both Ayr Raiders and Paisley Pirates. A full-time coach aged only 22, he was a keen student of the game and receptive to new ideas. His coaching methods, including meticulous preparation and innovative development of strategy and set plays, set him apart from most of his older coaching rivals.

He was particularly supportive of the discovery and development of Scottish players, and was able to mould some outstanding home-grown talent into key components of Canadian-dominated line-ups: the Syme brothers and Johnny Rolland at Dunfermline; Lawson Neil, Dave McCrae and Ken McMurtrie at Ayr; Billy Brennan, Joe Brown, Billy Crawford and Dave Ferguson at Paisley .

Although he was genuinely interested in the development of young players, and had great admiration for the determination shown by Scottish youngsters to compete on equal terms with Canadian players, who had enjoyed all the advantages of growing up in an environment where hockey was a way of life, his reasons were not wholly altruistic.

Above all, Keith Kewley wanted to win. It was his livelihood, and he was pragmatic enough to look at any angle which would give his teams an advantage. He realised that a small roster of 10 or 12 Canadian imports, playing in a punishing schedule of 60-plus games, was going to need replacements during the season. The cost-effective option was to develop the local youngsters to provide cover – and it also produced a talented legacy to British ice hockey.

Keith had first started playing hockey when growing up in Kitchener, Ontario, where he was educated at the Victoria School. The family moved to Toronto when his father became Assistant Sports Editor of The Globe and Mail newspaper.

Keith played as a winger for the 1944-45 Ontario Hockey Association Junior ‘B’ champions, Toronto Victory Aircraft (along side younger brother Herb.) The team was sponsored by the wartime Victory Aircraft federal agency, which built Lancaster bombers for the Royal Canadian Air Force, and Keith worked as an office supervisor at the Victory Aircraft plant in Toronto.

He came to Scotland in 1946, aged 21, and captained Dunfermline Vikings in the first post-war season of the revived Scottish League. As left wing on the second line, he contributed 22 goals and 14 assists for 36 points, accumulating 37 penalty minutes. As captain, however, his interest in coaching was given free rein by Head Coach ‘Scotty’ Cameron, and Kewley was a major influence in Vikings’ success in 1946-47 – winning the Play-Off Championship, Autumn Cup and Canada Cup, and finishing close runners-up to Perth in the Scottish National League.

Dunfermline Rink Manager Bill Creasey asked Keith to coach the Vikings the following season, and he guided them to the Simpson Trophy in 1947-48. He had also met his wife to be while in Dunfermline, Miss May Campbell of nearby Cowdenbeath, and they married in January 1948.

The newly-wed Kewleys returned to Toronto for two years, until Keith was approached by Ayr Rink Manager Ross Low in the summer of 1950 and invited to coach the Ayr Raiders. His wife was keen to return to Scotland, and Keith enjoyed two seasons at Ayr, steering Raiders to a Scottish National League and Autumn Cup double in 1951-52.

The opportunity to team up again with his former Dunfermline mentor Bill Creasey, now manager at Paisley, tempted Kewley away from Ayr for season 1952-53, and he was to enjoy four successful years with Paisley Pirates. He particularly enjoyed the almost unlimited ice time available to him for practice at Paisley ‘s East Lane stadium, as training opportunities had been severely restricted at both Dunfermline and Ayr, due to the demands of curling.

Kewley’s Pirates dominated Scottish hockey during 1953-54, winning the treble of Scottish League, Autumn Cup and Canada Cup. He took great pleasure from the significant contribution made by his five-man Scottish unit: the Syme brothers on defence, with a forward line of Dave Ferguson, Billy Brennan and Billy Crawford, augmented by Joe Brown – vindication indeed for Kewley’s faith in local talent.

He oversaw Paisley’s first two seasons in the ill-fated British National League, culminating in his belated recognition with an All-Star ‘A’ team nomination for 1955-56.

At the age of 31, and with British hockey then in serious decline, Kewley took his wife and two young sons – Harold and Keith – back to Canada in the summer of 1956. They settled in St Thomas, Ontario, and Keith developed a career in industry management, before moving into real estate brokerage.

 

Kewley’s All-Time Scottish League/British League coaching record reads:

 

Games Wins Losses Draws Winning %
Dunfemline Vikings 56 27 24 5 0.527
Ayr Raiders 120 66 43 11 0.596
Paisley Pirates 234 132 76 26 0.620
Total 410 225 143 42 0.600

 

The lure of hockey was still strong, however, and he coached the Senior ‘A’ St Thomas Royals from 1956 to ’58, signing Canadian players like Ed Lochhead, Cece Cowie and Art Sullivan who had played for him in Scotland.

He took up the coaching role again in 1961, with the introduction of Junior ‘B’ hockey to St Thomas, and again showed his aptitude for developing young players over the next seven years with the St Thomas Barons, taking the Barons to the All-Ontario finals in their first season, and to a runners-up slot in the Canadian national championship in 1967-68.

He subsequently wound down his hockey coaching career after 1968, working for several seasons at Midget level in St Thomas.

His wife, May, sadly passed away in 1969. Keith lives in retirement in St Thomas, and his two sons have provided him with four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. He plays golf regularly with old hockey teammates from his days in Scotland, like Art Sullivan, and he usually heads south to Florida for the winter.

A very private person, Keith has always preferred to stay out of the limelight in order to allow his players to take the credit. Fitting testimony to his coaching abilities, however, is provided by two of his Scottish players, who are also now in the Hall of Fame, ‘Tuck’ Syme and Billy Brennan. Billy remembers his first coaching session with Keith Kewley when he was just 17: “It really opened my eyes – I learned more in that hour than I had picked up in the previous four years.” ‘Tuck’ is equally generous to both Keith and his late brother Herb, who was an All-Star defenceman at both Dunfermline and Ayr : “The best coaches I had ever seen, way ahead of their time. Without those Kewley brothers, I’d just have been another good skater. They made me a hockey player.”

 

 

 

Compiled with research, provided

 by David Gordon – 2005.

Clarke’s orders: ‘We have to take him out’

 It’s the kind of incident that is woven into the history of a small town.

In its recall, the details often get expanded or become hazy. But it doesn’t prevent the telling of the tale.

In this case, it’s former Philadelphia Flyer Reggie Leach. Actually, it’s former Flin Flon Bomber Reggie Leach. But it could have been anyone else. It could have been former Bomber and NHLer Bobby Clarke.

Leach returned to St. Thomas as a head table guest for the 33rd St. Thomas Sports Spectacular on Thursday.

It was his first time back in St. Thomas since the infamous 1969 junior A hockey championship between his Bombers and St. Thomas Barons.

It was more than a hockey series. It was more like a head-on collision.

The Bombers won the series

.. . sort of. The best-of-seven never finished. The Barons abandoned the series in the fourth game, skating off the ice in Flin Flon. They blamed the Bombers’ rough play for their decision to withdraw.

“It’s more than 40 years and they still talk about it in St. Thomas, honest to God,” said Harold Kewley, a member of that Barons team. His dad Keith was the coach. “I get a kick out of it. I didn’t back then.”

When the list of guests was announced, Kewley was asked if he wanted to go get his picture taken with Leach.

“Only if he’s in handcuffs,” Kewley said, laughing.

It didn’t take long for the subject to come up once Leach arrived at the afternoon reception.

After being introduced to everyone, he was asked when was the last time he’d been to St. Thomas.

“When we kicked the s— out of you,” he said with a laugh.

Leach went on to a terrific NHL career with the Philadelphia Flyers. Known as the Riverton Rifle, he shares the record for most goals in one p ostseason with 19.

But Leach had a lot of demons to battle. He began drinking at age 12 and admits that his NHL career was shortened because of his alcoholism.

Now 60, he says he’s been sober for “a lot of years,” and calls helping young people “his passion.”

Leach lives on a reserve called Sucker Creek on Manitoulin Island.

“According to all you white guys, I must have been the only person who ever drank in the National Hockey League,” he said.

He now spends time travelling around the country, usually speaking to First Nation peoples about a program called Life Choices.

That is now, but back in 1969, Leach was a member of a rough and wild Bomber team.

“We weren’t the toughest team in the world and they were,” Barons goaltender Ron Marlow said. “If they didn’t beat you on the scoreboard, they beat you on the ice.”

With players such as Leach and Clarke, though, the Bombers were more than just tough. They had a lot of skill.

“They were better than us, no doubt,” Kewley said.

Leach doesn’t remember much about the series. He was only 17, but he called the Bombers the “toughest junior team I ever played on.”

The Bombers were leading the series 2-1 before the Barons skated off midway through Game 4 in Flin Flon. Kewley remembers the breaking point.

“Doug Macauley went down along the boards and one of their guys tried to kick him in the head,” Kewley said. “At that point, my dad just called us off the ice.”

Marlow remembers that incident vividly: “The player missed and his skate stuck in the boards.”

How did it all start?

In 1969, both the Barons and Bombers were playing in outlaw leagues. The Western Ontario Junior A Hockey League and Western Canada Hockey League were part of the Canadian Hockey Association, not the officially recognized Canadian Amateur Hockey Association. The next few years would see the structure of junior hockey change to what it is now. But at that time, it was in a state of flux.

This series was big news in both Flin Flon and St. Thomas, but it became evident fairly early that this wasn’t going to be your normal series.

“Not only were they tough, but they were dirty,” Marlow said.

Agreed Leach: “We were dirty, but it was the way I learned to play.”

That’s not to say that it was particularly comfortable for the Bombers to play in St. Thomas either, Leach said.

A report in The London Free Press after the first game of the series in St. Thomas seems to support that theory.

“The game was delayed by a barrage of eggs, cherry bombs, whiskey bottles and other debris,” the account read.

It took almost four hours to play the game.

Barons’ Jack Criel was taken off the ice on a stretcher. A fan was taken to hospital after getting hit by a stick and getting in a fight with a number of Bomber players and the coach.

CHA president Ron Butlin called the game “a disgrace.”

After the first two games in St. Thomas, there was some question as to whether the Barons were going to bother making the trip to Flin Flon because of the nature of the hockey.

It was a trip they probably wished they hadn’t made.

“They beat us 5-0 in the first game there and I had something like 78 shots,” Marlow said. “It was pretty much one way. But it wasn’t a three-ring circus, it was more like one big ring.”

Marlow swears he’s not exag-gerating.

“The fans, most of them were miners and they weren’t there to see good hockey,” he said. “They wanted to see a few fights. They threw stuff at Flin Flon to get them going to fight, never mind just us.

“There were whiskey bottles and a knife or two on the ice and I’m not exaggerating.”

Leach didn’t disagree.

“It was a tough, tough mining town,” he said. “There were more fights in the stands than on the ice and after the game with us.”

Then things really got wild when the Barons abandoned Game 4.

“We were in the dressing room for two hours,” Kewley said. “Then we all walked out together carrying our hockey bags and sticks and there was 200, 300 people outside the rink throwing bottles and stones. We went back in. They brought the Mounties in and they took us to the hotel. They stood on guard at the hotel all night.”

At this point, Butlin, the CHA president, was upset at the Barons for abandoning the series. He cancelled all the Barons’ flight reservations, hotel rooms and expense money, refusing to pay for anything. The Barons were forced to pool their money and ask for help, which they received, from the city of St. Thomas to get home.

“I remember getting home to St. Thomas and (the Ford dealer) got a bunch of convertibles and we had a parade down Talbot St.,” Kewley said.

The fallout from the series was considerable. The Bombers offered to come east to finish the series in either London or St. Thomas. That offer was rejected.

“I was disappointed, but there was no way they were going to come back, especially in our little sardine can rink,” Leach said. “At that time, they didn’t have the glass, they’d have the screen. You go along the boards and they’d grab you. That was good-time hockey.”

The CHA suspended Keith Kewley and general manager Jack Cassidy for a year.

“My dad didn’t care,” Kewley said. “He knew he’d done the right thing.”

E-mail morris.dallacosta@sunmedia.ca, or follow MoDaCoatlfpress on Twitter.