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Born in Siikajoki, Finland in 1899, this future NHL'er and builder of sports from the local to the world level, arrived in Port Arthur in 1900 as an infant. It was not long before he had adopted the games of his new homeland.

On the ice 'Puddy', as he came to be known, possessed an accurate shot from the wing and contributed to our region's first two Allan Cup titles becoming a Canadian champion in 1925 and 1926 with the Port Arthur Seniors. Turning professional, he spent time in the east when the big league was in its infancy, playing with the Toronto St. Pats in 1926-27, shortly before they became the Toronto Maple Leafs, and entered the history books as the first Finnish born player in the NHL.

Turning his attention to coaching, the first team to benefit from his knowledge was the 1928-29 Port Arthur Women's Hockey team who claimed the city championship. Taking over the helm of the Port Arthur Seniors in 1930 he led them to the 1935 Allan Cup finals in Halifax, falling just one game short of having a third national title to his credit.

With Halifax unable to ice a team for the 1936 Olympics, the CAHA looked to Albert, and the newly named Port Arthur Bearcats, to represent the nation. Coach of the Olympic squad, he led them through one of the most controversial Olympic hockey series ever staged, emerging as Olympic silver medallists and bringing home Canada's only medal from those Games.

Throughout his playing and coaching days, Albert would often do double duty. A well respected hockey referee, he officiated games from the 1920s to 50s, including three Olympic matches in 1936. For many years he could also be found calling balls and strikes in local senior baseball action.

In addition to his talents on the ice Albert was also successful on area golf courses. A two-time Strathcona Golf Club title holder during the 1930s he also served as the organization's President. Involved with the Thunder Bay District Fish and Game Association he served as their Treasurer for many years.

This sports pioneer, whose contributions to our region's sports heritage spanned six decades, and took him from the local to the Olympic arena, passed away in 1976 leaving behind a legacy of excellence as an athlete, builder and volunteer.

Inducted into the Northwestern Ontario Sports Hall of Fame, September 25, 2004

Albert "Puddy" Pudas

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