They play third fiddle to the Hamilton Bulldogs and Kilty B’s and the Hamilton Steelers are the best kept hockey secret in town as they set out to try to win the Allan Cup, emblematic of Canadian senior hockey supremacy.
Hamilton’s only Allan Cup championship was captured by the Tigers senior hockey club 104 years ago, when they edged the Selkirk Fishermen from Manitoba 7-6 in a two games, total goals to count series played in Toronto.
Amazingly, after being crushed 6-1 by the Tigers in the first game in 1919, the Fishermen came back to win the second one 5-0 in regulation time. Overtime was required to decide the series and defenceman Joe Matte notched the winning goal for Hamilton.
Selkirk’s star was Bullet Joe Simpson, who later played in the NHL for the New York Americans and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1963.
The Tigers dressed only eight players at a time when games were played in two halves, rather than three periods. Six of them – goalie Herb Rheaume, Joe Matte, Leo Reise Sr., Mickey Roach, Tom McCarthy and Wilf ‘Shorty’ Green went on to play in the NHL.
The Tigers won five consecutive OHA Senior A titles between 1944 and 1948, but did not make it to the Allan Cup final in any of those years. Nevertheless, it was a powerhouse team with Art Child in goal and Polly Miocinovich, great uncle of former Hamilton mayor Bob Bratina, one of its sharpshooters. Child, who was born in England, earned a gold medal playing for Great Britain at the 1936 Olympics.
The Steelers won the John Ross Robertson Cup by sweeping the Dundas Real McCoys in straight games in a best of three OHA final earlier this month.
Hamilton’s Cam Sault, a native of Ohsweken, led the Ontario league in scoring this year. Daniel Svedin, who was born in Sweden, is the goalie.
The Dundas lineup includes former NHLers Jason Williams and Chris Campoli. The goaltender is 40-year-old Mike Mole, who was named tournament MVP when the Real McCoys won the Cup in 2014.
Bulldogs coach Jay McKee was a member of that Dundas team when the tournament also was held there.
The Steelers open the tournament Monday, April 17 at 3:30 p.m. against the Clarenville Caribous from Newfoundland. The same evening at 7:30 the Dundas Real McCoys face the Alberta-based Innisfail Lakers.
Dundas and Hamilton renew their rivalry at 7:30 on Tuesday evening, April 18.
Games continue Wednesday, Thursday and Friday evenings with the championship game set for Saturday, April 22.
All games will be played at the Grightmire Arena in Dundas. A tournament ticket goes for $100. Single game admission is $15 for the preliminary round, $20 for the semifinal and championship game.
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