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Remember This? The Soo Senior Greyhounds

Close to 10,000 Saultites gathered to greet the team when they returned with the Allan Cup in 1924
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Greyhounds arena
The Gouin Street Arena. From the archives of the Sault Ste. Marie Public Library

From the archives of the Sault Ste. Marie Public Library:

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Remember This? . . . Soo Senior Greyhounds – the original Greyhounds!

When people talk about sports in Sault Ste. Marie, generally the first sport that comes to mind is hockey. 

There has been a long and memorable history of the sport within the city that dates back to the early part of the twentieth century.  Over the years the city has been represented by many different hockey teams but did you know that the Greyhound name was used for an earlier team association than the one that we are most familiar with today?

In the fall of 1919, the Sault Athletic Club decided to enter a senior amateur men’s hockey team in the newly formed Northern Ontario Hockey Association (N.O.H.A.). There were no age restrictions for senior players. The team would be called the (Senior) Greyhounds and would join the Sudbury Wolves and the North Bay Trappers in the Southern Group. 

This team played in the Arena Rink on Gouin Street which had a natural ice surface measuring 212’ by 87’ and could accommodate approximately 2,000 fans. 

George McNamara was chosen to be the team’s first coach and manager. McNamara had played with the Stanley Cup winning Toronto Blue Shirts in 1914. It was McNamara who named the team arguing that “a Greyhound is much faster than a wolf”, in an obvious reference to the already established rival club, the Sudbury Wolves.

The N.O.H.A. senior teams battled to compete for the Allan Cup, the trophy which was awarded annually to the national senior amateur men’s ice hockey champions of Canada. This trophy was donated by Sir Montague Allan of Ravenscrag, Montreal, and had been sought after since 1909.

The Greyhounds won N.O.H.A. Senior Championships in 1921, 1923, 1924, and 1925, during the early days of the league but it was the 1924 team that became the only Allan Cup winner from Sault Ste. Marie.  Members of this 1924 hockey team included: James “Flat” Walsh, James “Babe” Donnelly, Stan Brown, Bill Phillips, Johnny Woodruff, Roy ”Gloomy” Lessard, Garnet Campbell, Fred “Bun” Cook, Francis “Dutch” Cain, Jim Fahey, Art Nichols and trainer Fred Morgan along with coach and manager, George McNamara. 

On March 31, 1924, close to 10,000 Sault residents met the team when they arrived at the CPR Station bringing home the coveted Allan Cup cheering and congratulating them on their victory.  

During the next season, the team played a series of exhibition games and it was felt that due to the lack of strong competition they were unable to defend their championship during playoffs in the 1925–26 season.  This would be the end of the original Greyhounds playing in the Northern Ontario Hockey Association.  Six players from the 1924 team joined the professional ranks of the National Hockey League winning four Stanley Cups and two were inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.  Senior Greyhound hockey dominated the Sault from 1920-1926.

With the onset of the Depression followed by the Second World War, the interest in local hockey was still evident but interest in the National Hockey League was gaining prominence.  The Greyhounds did return to the N.O.H.A. again in subsequent years and, coached by Don Grosso, the Greyhounds won the N.O.H.A. championship in 1948, 1950, 1951, 1952 and finally in 1955.  Although they never played in the Allan Cup final again, the success of this team laid the foundation for the Junior Greyhound team that we now cheer on each hockey season!  

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Each week, the Sault Ste. Marie Public Library and its Archives provides SooToday readers with a glimpse of the city’s past.

Find out more of what the Public Library has to offer at www.ssmpl.ca and look for more Remember This? columns here