1920s Owen Sound Hockey Stars NHL-Bound

The 1920s Owen Sound Hockey Stars made there mark in amateur ranks and then many of them went on to careers in the NHL and other professional hockey leagues.

The story of the 1920s hockey stars began with the 1924 Owen Sound Greys who were a dominant force in junior hockey circles, winning this community's first national hockey championship. Several members of this team went on to play professional hockey. Three of these future professionals were native Owen Sounders. 

1924 Owen Sound Greys1924 Memorial Cup Champion Owen Sound Greys - Paul White Sports Photograph Collection
1924 Owen Sound Greys1924 Owen Sound Greys Team Photo - Paul White Sports Photograph Collection

Back Row (L-R) Silverthorne, Young (OS Grocer), Ryan, Keeling, Pratt. Jameson, Elliott, Middle Row (L-R) Graham, Cain, Flarity, Front Row (L-R) Weiland, Smith, Wright.

Defenseman Ted Graham left the Greys after their championship season and joined the Stratford Indians in the OHA Senior league. After one season with the Indians Graham joined the London Ravens of the OHA Senior loop for the 1925-26 season. Perhaps one of the reasons that he switched to London was the fact that his teammate from the Greys, Butch Keeling, had signed to play for the Ravens. 

Defenseman Ted Graham left the Greys after their championship season and joined the Stratford Indians in the OHA Senior league. After one season with the Indians Graham joined the London Ravens of the OHA Senior loop for the 1925-26 season. Perhaps one of the reasons that he switched to London was the fact that his teammate from the Greys, Butch Keeling, had signed to play for the Ravens. 

After a stellar performance in London, Graham's services were sought by Chicago of the NHL. However, it was not until the 1929-30 season that Graham really became established in the NHL.

Teddy GrahamTeddy Graham - Chicago Black Hawks - Paul White Sports Photograph Collection

He spent four seasons patrolling the Black Hawks' blue line and then was traded at the start of the 1933-34 season to the Montreal Maroons for Lionel Conacher. 

During the next four seasons Graham played for the Maroons, the Red Wings, the St. Louis Eagles, the Bruins, and the New York Americans. 

Ted Graham retired at the end of the 1937-38 season after spending the year with the New Haven Eagles of the American Hockey League. In all, Ted Graham played 346 games in the NHL, scoring 14 goals and adding 25 assists. 

One of the star forwards on the 1924 Greys championship club was Melville "Butch" Keeling. A dynamic goal scorer, Keeling joined the London Ravens of the OHA Senior league for the 1925-26 season.  The next year, London entered a team in the Canadian American Professional League and Keeling played left wing on the number one line for that club. 

However, his career in London was short-lived. During that season he was traded to Toronto of the NHL. 

"Butch" spent the next season, 1927-28, in Toronto before being traded along with John Ross Roach to the New York Rangers for Lorne Chabot and Alex Gray. 

For the next 10 seasons Keeling was a member of the Rangers where he earned a reputation around the league as a deadly sniper, especially when his team needed a goal. 

Melville "Butch" Keeling - Paul White Sports Memorabilia Collection

Keeling spent the 1938-39 and 1939-40 seasons playing for minor professional teams in Philadelphia and Kansas City before retiring as a player. 

However, Keeling's time in the National Hockey League was not over. 

He became a referee in that league for many years. 

In 1948, a special night was held in Maple Leaf Gardens to honour three hockey heroes from Owen Sound. That night the Leafs were hosting the Red Wings and the Owen Sounders who were honoured were the Red Wings goalie Harry Lumley, the Leafs' coach Hap Day, and the referee for the game "Butch" Keeling. 

The regular goalie for the 1924 Greys was Hedley Smith. However, the backup netminder was a youngster named Benny Grant. 

Although Grant played only sporadically for the championship team, three years later he was to provide the last line of defense for Owen Sound's other Memorial Cup championship team, the 1927 Greys. 

Benny followed Keeling and Graham to London after he graduated from junior hockey and after the 1927-28 season he signed to play for Toronto in the NHL In those days teams carried only one goaltender, but Conn Smythe, the Toronto owner, refused to part with Benny.

Instead he loaned Grant to various minor league teams to keep him at the top of his game in case the Leafs were in need of his services. Consequently, Benny Grant played for many different teams during the course of his career. 

Benny Grant retired at the end of the 1941-42 season. But one year later he signed to play for the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 1943-44 season. After that year he retired again and returned to Owen Sound. 

These are but three of the many players from this region who have played professional hockey, and helped the Owen Sound/Grey-Bruce region gain recognition as a hockey hotbed. 

A version of "1920s Owen Sound Hockey Stars NHL-Bound" originally appeared in my Local History column in the October 15, 1999 edition of the Owen Sound Sun Times.

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About Owen Sound Hockey History

The 1920s Owen Sound Hockey Stars made there mark in amateur ranks and then many of them went on to careers in the NHL and other professional hockey leagues.

Benny Grant: Memorial Cup Champ grew up in Owen Sound and enjoyed a hockey career, which included a surprising turn of events that led to a stint in the NHL.

"Buck" Jones, like most Canadian boys, dreamed of playing in the NHL. Little did he realize that one day he would wear the sweater of an NHL club and would be the idol of youngsters like himself!

Ralph "Cooney" Weiland skated from a Memorial Cup championship in Owen Sound, to a Stanley Cup in Boston to fame as a U.S. college hockey coach.

Doug Brindley: From Maple Draft Choice to a role in Slap Shot: a Memorial Cup champ; coached by Don Cherry; and he played in the WHA; what more could a Walkerton Ontario native ask for in a hockey career?

Goalie "Red" Henry: An All-Star Netminder: Another great Owen Sound goalie who played for the love of the game.

"Hap" Day was a Hall of Fame hockey player, coach and general manager as well as a life-long Toronto Maple Leaf.

Harry Lumley spent his Hall of Fame hockey career tending the nets for four NHL clubs and he spent one period of a hockey game goaltending for a fifth NHL team.

Henry Kelso: Owen Sound Sports Legend not only contributed to the sporting life of his students, he also had a significant influence on the rest of their lives.

Junior Hockey Commentary: Should there be controversy about the use of non-local hockey players? This article was written in 1998 in response to a letter to the editor in the Owen Sound Sun Times.

Newspaper Sports: Owen Sound Hockey History was detailed in the pages of the Owen Sound Sun Times in detail in the days before the radio and television eras.

Owen Sound Hockey's early history some references suggest started in the 1880s. However there are records of organized hockey teams beginning in the early 1900s.

Owen Sound was a Hockey Hotbed in 1950-51: Their fans were hockey crazy during this OHA Senior A Championship season as their star-studded team marched to an Allan Cup victory.

The 1959-60 Owen Sound Greys: A Tough Act to Follow: Tragedy struck this hockey team of young men, yet they persevered.

The 1960s Owen Sound Greys Stars who went on to NHL action including Brian Perry, Doug Brindley, Jim Schoenfeld, and Jack Lynch brought Owen Sound a reputation as a hockey hotbed!

Owen Sound Attack: The arrival of this new OHL team is the latest chapter in the Owen Sound region's rich hockey history.

Owen Sound Goalies: Why does Owen Sound produce so many fine goaltenders? There must be something in the water! 

Some Great Owen Sound Greys. The history of this hockey team is a story of players who were not only local boys, but came from many locations to hone their skills.

Owen Sound Hockey Heritage stretches from rural farmhouses on Saturday night to backyard rinks to cheering for local hockey successes and hockey heroes.

Owen Sound Junior Hockey History began almost one hundred and twenty years ago and is rich with championship teams, great players, and dedicated fans. 

Owen Sound's New Arena in 1938 opened a new era in Grey and Bruce counties with the first artificial ice making machine in western Ontario north of Kitchener.

Owen Sound Platers: Ray McKelvie the quiet and knowledgeable leader behind the success of the 1999 hockey team.

Pat McReavy enjoyed a long hockey career which brought him three championships, the Stanley Cup, the Allan Cup and a World Hockey Title.

"Red" Armstrong, a fiery spirited hockey player, known more for his fierce checking than his scoring prowess surprised even himself on his first NHL shift.

Tommy Burlington: the Greatest North American Never to Play in the NHL captured scoring titles in every league that he played, bringing comparisons to NHL greats.

Owen Sound Hockey History is rich with stories of championship teams, star hockey players, and community support.