Some Great Owen Sound Greys

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.

Kincardine's Dennis Riggin played hockey in the Detroit Red Wing organization. On one occasion, he was taking part in the pre-game skate in Boston before a game with the Bruins. As he skated about trying to get himself prepared for the game, his thoughts were interrupted by a voice which said, “Not a bad place for a couple of guys from Grey and Bruce to find themselves". Startled by this statement, Riggin looked around to see who had spoken to him. It was Boston goaltender and Owen Sound native, Harry Lumley

Area players have played hockey all over North America and, in some cases, even in Europe! Many of them returned to their hometown after their playing days were over. In this column and elsewhere, I have written about the contributions of players who came to play for area teams and stayed to establish businesses and become vital parts of their adopted communities. During a recent research trip, I discovered a player who had honed his skills in Owen Sound and then graduated to a Hall of Fame career in the NHL. But more interestingly, I discovered that he had a post-playing career in a very unique location. 

In 1924, the Owen Sound Greys brought prominence to this area in the sport of hockey. They were an awesome force on the hockey rink. That season, they won 22, tied two and only lost two games of the 26 games they played! The Greys capped this amazing season winning this city’s first Memorial Cup. 

The Greys scored an average of 8.9 goals per game that season for a total of 204 goals. At the centre of this awesome scoring machine was the line of Ralph “Cooney” Weiland, Mel "Butch" Keeling and George Elliott. This forward unit accounted for 170 of the Greys' 204 goals! 

The centreman on this dynamic line was Ralph "Cooney” Weiland. He led the team with 68 goals and was no doubt responsible for setting up many of his team mates' tallies. Weiland was a native of the Western Ontario community of Seaforth. He was recruited by the Greys and used his here to hone his hockey skills. After graduating from the junior ranks, he joined the Minneapolis Millers in the minor professional ranks. In 1928, Cooney signed to play for the Boston Bruins of the National Hockey league. 

Weiland was almost an immediate success in the NHL. He centred a line called the "Dynamite Trio" which included Dutch Gainor and the legendary “Dit” Clapper. Powered by Weiland and his line mates, in 1929, the Bruins won their first Stanley Cup. “Cooney” scored an amazing 43 goals in 44 games that season. 

In 1930, Weiland won the scoring title in the NHL. Two years later, he was traded to the Ottawa Senators and the following season he became a member of the Detroit Red Wings. He concluded his playing career in Boston in 1939, when once again he led the Bruins to a Stanley Cup victory. In 1940, he became the coach of the Bruins and, under his tutelage, Boston captured the Stanley Cup in 1941. 

In 1950, Ralph "Cooney ' Weiland began a new career which would bring him almost as much recognition as his glorious days in the NHL. That year, he was hired as the hockey coach at perhaps the most prestigious academic institution in North America — Harvard University! He held this position until his retirement in 1971, the same year that he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

His 21 years of effort to improve collegiate hockey in the United States did not go unnoticed. In 1972, Ralph "Cooney” Weiland was honoured with the Lester Patrick Trophy which is awarded for outstanding service to the sport of hockey in the United States. 

Not bad for a former Owen Sound Grey!

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

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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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