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Leo 'Kusti' Lespi, also known as 'The Flying Finn', raced down the right wing for over a dozen seasons in professional hockey. Born in Fort William on February 24th, 1915, Leo's family moved to Nipigon early in his childhood, the place where he would learn the game which would become his career.

During the early 1930s, Leo played junior hockey with the Port Arthur West Ends before going on to play senior hockey with the Sudbury Cub Wolves. Leo caught the eye of the Boston Bruin scouting organization who signed him on to play with their farm club, the Boston Cubs. Leo played one season with the Cubs before being loaned to the Minneapolis Millers of the American Hockey Association.

In Minneapolis, Leo had the best years of his career. In the 1936-37 season, the Millers won the AHA title with Leo playing a pivotal role in the team's success. Two seasons later, Leo established the standard for right wingers in the AHA with a record-setting 35 goals.

In the 1946-47 season, Leo decided to retire from the professional ranks and returned to Nipigon where he became involved in coaching. He coached the Nipigon Flyers for numerous years, leading them to the North Shore Championship in 1952. Leo was also asked to select a team of Nipigon players to play against the Finnish National Team, a game in which Nipigon emerged victorious. Leo's love for the game of hockey saw him active with the Nipigon Oldtimers well into his seventies.

Leo received many honours both during and after his career. He was chosen to play in the inaugural AHA All-Star Game in St. Louis in 1941, the Town of Nipigon had a 'Leo Lespi Day' in 1956 and in 1988 he received a 'Celebration 88 Award' during the Olympic torch drive in the Male Athlete category.

Inducted into the Northwestern Ontario Sports Hall of Fame, September 29, 1990

Leo Lespi

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