Meaford Knights Hockey: Brothers Make A Winning Difference

Meaford Knights Hockey: The 1953-54 Championship Knights' line-up had of several pairs of brothers. Many felt that the brothers made a winning difference.

The Meaford Knights of the WOAA Intermediate League enjoyed an incredible 1953-54 season. When they defeated Strathroy 11-4 to win the WOAA Intermediate “A” round robin series, their record for the year, including two exhibition games, was an incredible 32 wins, 2 ties and no losses. 

There was another factor, which was unique about this season for the Meaford Knights. Throughout the history of sports, there have been many comments about brothers playing on the same team. The Cook brothers of the Rangers, the Richards with the Canadiens, and the Plagers with St. Louis were all looked upon with admiration. The fact that brothers played on the same team was something special for them and their fans.

While one set of brothers on a team may be unique, what would you say about four sets of brothers on the same team? The Meaford Knights hockey roster included four sets of brothers. 

Coach MacDonald, and his brother John skated on one forward line with team captain Ray McCallum. Alex and Gordie McNeill played on another line with Carl Bell. Bell's brother Norman was a utility forward on the team. The Wheeler brothers, Ray and Frank, patrolled the Knights' defense. 

After the victory over Strathroy, the Knights faced Durham in the OHA playoffs. Another unusual circumstance arose for the Knights. Because the Durham and Meaford sweaters were similar in colour, the Meaford team was asked to find other sweaters. They borrowed the jerseys of the Owen Sound Mercurys,

In hindsight, some Meaford fans probably saw this as a bad omen for the Knights. In the first game of the series, Durham handed the hometown Knights their first loss of the season, 11-6. Meaford responded by winning the next two games.

Unfortunately for the Meaford team and its fans, Durham roared back to win the next three games and the series. 

Interest in the Meaford Knights hockey team was extremely high in that community.

That season marked the first time in 27 years that a Meaford hockey team had won their league championship. An example of the support that the Knights received from their fans occurred in the third game of the series with Durham.

The newspapers reported that, “additional ushers and police have been secured, for the game on Thursday evening in an effort to distribute the fans through the building to the best advantage.” 

The fans lined up more than two hours before the game to ensure they were able to get seats. Photos taken by the Sun Times show fans playing euchre in the stands while they waited for their heroes to take the ice and game to begin. 

The previous time that a Meaford team had won a league championship was in 1927, when they played in a loop that included the Collingwood Shipbuilders and the Barrie Flyers. 

The 1927 team included George Long in goal, and Cliff Richardson as his back-up. Sid Coleman and Bill Riley formed the defense tandem. The forwards included Harold Touhey, Harry LaChapple and Jack Barry. 

The star of the team was Thornbury native, forward Cecil Dillon. The next season, would see Dillon patrolling the ice for the Owen Sound Greys. After graduation from junior hockey ranks, Dillon turned professional with the Springfield Indians. 

After minor pro seasoning, he played for the New York Rangers. He was a member of the 1933 Stanley Cup Champion New York Rangers. On that club, one of his teammates was Owen Sound's "Butch" Keeling. 

Unfortunately for the 1927 Meaford squad, their first opponent in the O.H.A. play-off round was Owen Sound. The Greys, who went on the win the Memorial Cup that year, easily defeated the Meaford team in two games, by identical 9-1 scores.

Today hockey teams such as the Attack and the Greys, travel to their out-of-town games in motor coaches equipped with almost all of the amenities of home. The 1927 Meaford team travelled to Owen Sound for their playoff game in horse-drawn stages. 

I would like to thank two people who provided me with much of the information for this article. Jack Hauert, who provided outstanding goaltending for the Knights in their match to a season with no defeats, allowed me to see his scrapbooks which contain a wealth of information about hockey in this area during the 1950s, and Jeff McCallum, the son of Knights captain, Ray McCallum, whose enthusiasm and memories of the players on those great Meaford teams in the 1950s were the impetus for this column.

A version of "Meaford Knights Hockey: Brothers Make A Winning Difference," originally appeared in my Local History column in the March 17, 1997 edition of the Owen Sound Sun Times.

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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.

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