Beginning their road to the Allan Cup at the local level, the 1924-25 Port Arthur Seniors played a strong but hard-fought regular season against other Northwestern Ontario and Manitoba teams, winning 12 games and losing 8. This record put them in second place behind the team from Selkirk, MB, which meant that the first step of the Seniors’ long Allan Cup journey would be a best of three series against the
The first game, played in Port Arthur, was an exciting victory for the Seniors. The score was tied 2-2 until the final period, when Wilf L’Heureux netted a tricky goal with only 20 seconds left on the clock. This was followed by another 2-3 Port Arthur win in Winnipeg, earning the Seniors the Northwestern Ontario championship and another step along the trail to the Allan Cup.
The Tricolours, as they were often known, then stayed in Winnipeg where they would continue their winning streak in convincing fashion, routing the Manitoba provincial intermediate champion Foxwarren-Birtie team 11-3.The win was so resounding that the intended second game of the series was cancelled, and the Seniors were declared inter-provincial champions.
Fort Frances were the next hopeful contenders, but their luck proved no better than Foxwarren; the Seniors came through with a 10-3 victory at home, with Danny Cox scoring no less than 4 goals. The Regina Vics were the next team to beat, and proved to be a handful. The Seniors could only hold them to a 1-1 tie during the first game of the series, as the Regina men were said to have been built like a rugby squad rather than a hockey team. However, the tide turned in the Ports’ favour the following game, in which the team used their stickhandling and speed to outclass the lumbering Vics by a score of 10-3.
The Coleman Tigers, the final team standing between Port Arthur and the Allan Cup finals, would be the first team to beat the Seniors during the playoffs. Port Arthur took a 4-2 defeat at the hands of the speedy Tigers, and tension was high going into the deciding game of the series. In a performance described as one of the best in the history of the club, the Seniors came back in the second game with a modified offensive strategy and won the game 5-1. The series was decided on the basis of points, and so the Port Arthur Seniors were crowned Western Champions.
The Eastern Champion team was the University of Toronto Collegiates, a young, energetic squad compared to the seasoned Seniors. The first game of the series, which was to take place in Winnipeg, was played on March 23, 1925 in front of a large and expectant audience. The Tricolours showed excellent form, earning a reportedly well-deserved 4-0 victory. Goaltender Lorne Chabot was particularly potent, stopping 19 shots on goal in a striking shutout.
The final game of the series would prove an exciting one. Going into the third period, the score was 1-0 in the Ports’ favour, and they had only to hold the Collegiates off for twenty more minutes to win the national crown. Chabot had broken his hand in the Coleman series, and by the third period his stick had to be tied on so that he could grip it. Port Arthur fans began to fear the worst when Toronto scored two goals in the first half of the period, and must have neared despondency when the team made no reply by the sixteen minute mark. However, in an incredible rally, Bill Brydge managed a goal, tying the game. Then, only moments later, Wilf L’Heureux gained the puck and managed to break through the Collegiate defence, with Gordon Wilson by his side. When he reached the net, Toronto’s goalie was tight to him, making the shot impossible. However, he had been drawn far enough out that there was a space behind him, and Wilson moved into position for the pass. Shooting the puck between the legs of a defender, L’Heureux made a flawless pass to Wilson, who shot for the back of the net without hesitation for the
When the bell sounded for the end of play, Port Arthur had won 3-2, and the fans were ecstatic. On March 26, 1925, when the Tricolours arrived back in town on the train, the city shut down to welcome them home. Schools were let out, the paper mill closed, and thousands of citizens gathered around the train station to laud their first Allan Cup champion team. Since this first national triumph, Port Arthur, later Thunder Bay, has gone on to lead the nation in Allan Cup wins, carrying on the proud tradition first established in this 1925 championship.
Standing left to right:
Wilf L'Heureux, E.C.'Ted' Whalen, Alex Gray, Albert Pudas, Bill Brydge, Lorne Chabot, Gordon Wilson, Bennie Ward, Danny Cox, Bobbie Connors.
Missing from photo: Ed Carpenter (Coach)
Inducted into the Northwestern Ontario Sports Hall of Fame, September 25, 1982