1959-60 Owen Sound Greys: A Tough Act to Follow

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

This past weekend the Owen Sound Platers eliminated the Guelph Storm, four games to two, in the OHL Western Conference Semi-Finals. The series was hard-fought and not without controversy. But in the end, the Platers despite questionable refereeing in two of the games in Guelph, emerged victorious. Throughout the year’s teams from Guelph and Owen Sound have battled in the play-offs on many occasions. 

Although the suspense and drama around this recent series was intense, it pales when compared to a play-off round between junior clubs from these two cities 39 years ago. 

Tragedy Strikes the 1959-60 Owen Sound Greys

On Saturday, Feb. 27, 1960 the Greys were scheduled to play Guelph in the second game of their junior 'B' play-off round. The weather that night was terrible. A winter storm enveloped the region. Heavy snow, freezing temperatures and high winds made travelling to the arena treacherous. But as game time approached, the Owen Sound arena was packed with fans eager to urge the local team on to a victory which would tie the series at one game apiece. 

As the clock ticked closer to the opening face-off, the players, coaches and fans from both teams prepared themselves for the big game. However, before the first puck was dropped, the trivial role of sports in life would be exposed when events of larger significance were revealed to everyone in the arena that stormy winter night. 

It was the public address announcer who told the audience in the arena that the game had been cancelled. Two members of the Grey s, defenceman Alfred Waechter and goaltender Donald Schefter, had been killed in a car accident south of Chatsworth on their way to the game from their homes in Walkerton. The scene in the arena changed from charged excitement to silence. In a quiet Guelph dressing room, the players took up a collection for the families of their fallen rivals. No longer did a hockey game seem so important! 

The next game in the play-off series, scheduled for the following Tuesday, was also cancelled. Schefter and Waechter had been important players in the Greys capturing first place in the league's regular season play. When the series resumed, the Greys would not only be without the league's best goaltender and a rising young star defenseman, but they would be mourning the loss of two friends and team mates. 

Owen Sound was allowed to sign goalie Al Cullen from Woodstock to fill the void left in the Greys' net. When the series resumed it was a hard-fought affair. But, perhaps driven by the memory of their team mates, Schefter and Waechter, the Greys battled back to defeat Guelph by a margin of four games to two. 

Although many Owen Sound hockey teams have captured championships and brought fame and recognition to this city, the 1959-60 Owen Sound Greys deserve a special place in our community's hockey history. Despite the tragedy of losing their goaltender and another team mate, they summoned up the emotional strength not only to just continue playing, but to play well enough to win the play-off round. They overcame an obstacle far larger than prejudicial refereeing! 

I would like to thank former Sun Times sports editor Ted Briggs for his assistance in researching this article.

A version of this article originally appeared in my Local History column in the Owen Sound Sun Times in the spring of 2000

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About Owen Sound Hockey History

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!

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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.

"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.

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.

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.



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