It’s hard to believe it’s been 40 years, but it has. And this weekend players who were members of the former Ottawa District Junior B Hockey league’s championship Morrisburg Lions teams of the mid-1970’s will be in town to catch up on old times.
They won’t be wearing their skates, although some are still playing hockey at the oldtimer level, but they will be picking up golf clubs in a get-together at the Morrisburg Golf Club.
Some are coming home from quite a distance and all are hoping that their old friends and fans will join them Friday evening (July 17 at 7 p.m.) at a meet and greet, and/or Saturday afternoon (after 1 p.m.).
Most are playing in a scramble fun golf tournament beginning at 10 a.m. on Saturday, and they will be sitting down to a dinner at about 5 p.m.
In between organizers Jeff “Skunk” Cassell and Jim “Sudsy” Whelan say there should be some good hockey tales being told.
Cassell who was one of two players (with Bob McNairn) who played on four consecutive Gill Cup winning Lions team in the mid-seventies, says he has been able to contact almost everyone who was on the 1975-1976 squad and many are coming home for the 40 year reunion (including Bob “Rookie” McNairn from Mississippi, U.S.A. and goaltender Donnie “The Cat” McNairn from Oshawa).
The 1975-76 team started the puck rolling on the way to the Lions competing in four consecutive Ottawa and District league championships for the Citizen Shield. They became the first Morrisburg team to ever win an ODHA Junior championship with a 10-4 victory over the Hawkesbury Hawks in game seven of the championship series after eliminating the Gananoque G-Men in five games for the Southern Division championship. They defeated the Cardinal Broncos in five games for the Gill Cup win.
In the 1976-77 season, the Lions again went all the way to the championship, this time bowing to the Renfrew Lions in five games. They won the South Division championship when they defeated the Gananoque G-Men in seven games to advance to the final.
The Lions were back on the ice with eight rookies in the 1977-78 season. This time they went to the final and defeated the Richmond Royals in four straight games to have their names engraved on the Citizen Shield for the second time in three years. They eliminated the Kemptville 73s, also in four straight games, to win the South Division Championship and the newly introduced Valcour-Collison Trophy.
It is the players on the three squads, from 1975 to the end of the 1978 season, who will be home this weekend.
During this time the team was owned by the late John Rice, and his wife Ruth is planning to attend the reunion to present the Lions number 11 retired sweater for display at the Morrisburg arena. Retired in honour of the four captains who guided their teams to the four ODHA finals, Mrs. Rice only recently discovered the actual sweater in her late husband’s hockey collection.
The four captains, Chuck Lawlor, Doug McNairn, Bob “Rookie” McNairn and Rob “Wrapper” Reynolds are all expected to attend the reunion.
Reynolds wore the captain sweater in the 1978-79 season when the Lions lost in the ODHA final series to the Ottawa South Canadiens.
In addition to the players, many members of the coaching staff are expected, including Ken Morrow Jr., Brian McNairn, Stan Mabo, Mike Felker and Richard Baker.
Organizers Cassell and Whelan, have attempted to contact all players, and have asked that if anyone has been missed to please contact them, and to please plan to attend.
As well they are hoping that friends and fans (the 7th game against Hawkesbury played in Morrisburg was attended by just under 2,000 people) will drop by the Morrisburg Golf Club for a little old-time hockey talk.