Owen Sound: A Hockey Hotbed in 1950-51 

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.


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The 1950s began with Canada involved in yet another war. Society was undergoing dramatic changes. But one constant remained, this area was still a hockey hotbed and in the decade's first hockey season another national hockey title came home to the Grey and Bruce region. 

The Owen Sound Senior "A" Mercurys enjoyed a dream season during 1950-51, thrilling their fans in this hockey hotbed. The Owen Sound hockey club battled the Stouffville Clippers for first place during most of the season. However, late in the season, the Mercs pulled away from the rest of the Big Seven Senior League to capture the league title. 

1950-51 Owen Sound Mercurys Program1950-51 Owen Sound Mercurys Game Program - Paul White Hockey Memorabilia Collection

The Mercurys entered the playoffs hopeful of a long post-season run. Stouffville offered little opposition for the Owen Sounders in the first round, bowing out after five games. In the second round, the Peterborough Petes were the victims in four games thanks to goalie Bob Gilson, and the rest of the Mercurys. 

Gilson provided the all-star goaltending necessary for a hockey team to win a championship. But he was not alone in guarding the Owen Sound end of the ice. The Mercurys defense consisted of four veteran defensemen, who made any opposing player “pay the price" if they ventured into the Mercs' end of the rink. Harry Kazarian, Art Hayward, "Bun" White, and Bill Allum were as good as any defense core in the country. 

On the forward line there was a good mixture of veterans and youngsters. 

A trio of speedy youngsters, John Macdonald, Andy Grant and Bob Markle, formed the checking line. Veterans Tommy Burlington, "Buck" Forslund, Pat McReavy, Doug Gillespie, Jack Ingoldsby, Freddy Smith, and Mike Buchacheski provided the leadership and scoring punch. 

The Mercurys defeated the Sarnia Sailors to capture the Ontario title. Next the Owen Sounders travelled to Sault Ste. Marie. The Greyhounds won both games on their home ice and were so confident of victory that they didn't bother to bring a change of clothes when they travelled to Owen Sound for what they figured would only be one game. 

But, the results would be different when the teams came to Owen Sound. In this hockey hotbed of Senior hockey fans, Bobby Gilson and the rest of the Mercurys were not about to disappoint their fans by accommodating the wishes of the over-confident Greyhounds. Led by the veteran netminder, a determined defense, and the well-balanced forward lines, the Mercurys roared back, to win all three home games and capture the series. 

In the Eastern Canadian finals, the Mercury faced the Dolbeau Castors of the Lac St. Jean area of Quebec. They captured that title by a margin of 3 games to 1. 

The Canadian finals were between Owen Sound and Fort Frances Canadians. After a hard fought six games, the two teams were tied at three games each. 

On May 9 the seventh game was played in a packed arena. For two periods Gilson and his counterpart from Fort Frances stopped everything the players fired in their direction. 

Bob Gilson Owen Sound Mercurys GoalieBob Gilson Owen Sound Mercurys Goalie - Paul White Collection

In the third period, the Mercurys' veteran forwards, led by Pat McReavy, solved the Canadians' goalie. McReavy, Forslund and Buchacheski scored. 

Late in the game Fort Francis staged a terrific attempt to comeback, but Gilson was equal to the task stopping all but one shot. 

On May 9, 1951 the Owen Sound Mercurys claimed their first Allan Cup. The powerhouse hockey club remained at, or near the top of the senior hockey league for several more years. 

A version of "Owen Sound: A Hockey Hotbed in 1950-51," originally appeared in my Sports History column in the November 12, 1999 edition of thein the Owen Sound Sun Times. For more information about Owen Sound's hockey history, check out my latest hockey book, Journey Through Owen Sound's Hockey History.

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