Durham Yellowjackets Hockey Team Were a Force to be Reckoned With

The Durham Yellowjackets hockey team was a force to be reckoned with in Ontario Intermediate hockey during the 1930s.


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The Great Lakes Raconteur

There has been a long tradition of great hockey teams and players throughout Grey and Bruce counties. 

In 1936 the town of Durham's Yellowjacket hockey team  was second to none. In that year they lost only one game and won the O.H.A. Intermediate "B" title. Durham's opposition during the regular season included teams from Harriston, Palmerston, Arthur, Milverton and the Olympics from Owen Sound. En route to their outstanding regular season, the Durham squad had little trouble with their opposition. The scores of the games quite often resembled those attributed to a football match. In one game, they obliterated Palmerston 29-3. 

The only team that gave the Yellowjackets any trouble was the Owen Sound Olympics. Still Durham emerged from their regular schedule with 6-5 and 5-3 victories. When the playoffs began, fans from both communities were looking forward to a great final series. However, this event never occurred. Palmerston, perhaps seeking some form of revenge from the 29-3 pasting given them by Durham, defeated Owen Sound. 

In the league finals, Palmerston's hope of avenging that terrible loss was quickly dashed as Durham swept them in two straight games. In the first round of the O.H.A. playoffs, the Yellowjackets' opposition was the Owen Sound Rangers, the champions of the City League. Durham won both games of the series. 

The still undefeated Durham Yellowjackets hockey team now faced the Clinton Colts in what would be a suspense filled series. The first game in Durham ended in a 1-1 tie. Similarly, the second game in Clinton ended in a draw. This time the score was 2-2. The third, and final game was played in Galt and the Durham team unleashed their vaunted scoring machine to win 6-2. 

Durham's next opposition was the also undefeated Acton Tanners. In the first game, Acton stunned Durham, handing them their first loss of the season by winning 7-2. Down by five goals in the series, the Yellowjackets returned home to regroup for game two on their home ice.

Led by Norm Dean, who would later play for the Owen Sound Trappers, Durham began an all-out assault on the Acton net from the opening face-off. A swift-skating winger, Dean fired five goals in a 7-1 victory by the Yellowjackets. This outburst of scoring enabled Durham to win the series by nine goals to eight. After this stunning turn of events, the O.H.A. finals against Whitby were almost anti-climactic. 

Perhaps the victory over Acton had dulled Durham's edge as they were forced to a 3-2 overtime victory in the first game. However, they emerged for the second game firing on all cylinders, the Durham Yellowjackets swarmed over their opposition to record a 6-3 victory to win the O.H.A. title. 

All successful teams need a good goaltender, a solid defense and forwards who can skate, score goals and back check in their own end of the ice. The Durham Yellowjackets hockey team was no exception to this rule. Jack Schutz was the regular goalie and his back-up was Ernie McDonald who, according to some fans of that era, could have played first-string on many other teams. 

The defense corps was deep in experience, and consisted of Erben "Dutch" Schultz, Len Trushinski of Walkerton, Clarence McGirr, and Ken Wilson. Joe Raybould of Walkerton centred the first line of Norm Dean and Hugh Cassidy. The second line consisted of Gordon Rennie, Irving Elvidge and Fred Moses. Ray McGirr and Norm Tucker provided the bench strength which is important to every good team. 

The coach was Dr. Royden Burnett. the assistant coach was “Harry” Lauder. 

Lauder was no stranger to winning teams. His experience as the captain of the 1927 Owen Sound Greys, when they won the national junior hockey title was probably of great value to the Yellowjackets in their march to the 1936 0.H.A. Intermediate "B" Championship.

The 1937 season once again saw the Durham Yellowjackets hockey team dominate their opposition. However, in the playoffs they were defeated 7-5 by the St. Michael's College Majors, who were in fact a top-flight junior team.

Today, like so many other Grey and Bruce communities, Durham continues to maintain its strong tradition in the sport of hockey. 

A version of "Durham Yellowjackets Hockey Team Were a Force to be Reckoned With," originally appeared in my Local History column in the Owen Sound Sun Times.

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