The Port Arthur Bearcats defeated Sweden's Djurgaarden Hockey Club 5-3 on January 3rd, 1962 to win the inaugural Bunny Ahearne Cup, emblematic of European Hockey Supremacy. This tournament victory was the culmination of a 15-game series tour of Europe in which the Bearcats compiled a 10-4-1 record against teams from Czechoslovakia, Germany and Sweden.
The road to their victory in the Ahearne Cup was not an easy one. The Bearcat roster included only original team members for the tour. the common practice of selecting pick-up players from other teams was not employed by the Bearcats at this time. This move left many individuals sceptical, who thought that the Bearcats were not a strong enough team to represent Canada; they questioned the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association on choosing the team.
But the Bearcats, which had former NHL'ers Rudy Migay, Steve Hrymnak and Lee Fogolin Sr. behind the bench, were determined to prove the critics wrong.
After playing the Czechoslovakian national team, the critics appeared correct in their accusations of the Bearcats. The first game saw a 2-1 loss, which was highlighted by 23 penalties for the Bearcats, leaving the club bewildered. Off of their game, the Bearcats were defeated 10-1 by the Czechs, which made them realize that they had to stick to their brand of hockey in order to win. This strategy paid dividends when, winning their next three games (two of them by shutouts)--impressing the Swedish spectators with their clean-although-rugged style of play.
In the final, the Bearcats had to play Sweden's leading team, Djurgaarden, who were on an unbelievable 61-game undefeated streak at the time, which left the Bearcats with no easy task before them.
The stage was set for the championship game in which the two unbeaten teams would finally clash. A record crowd in excess of 20,000 watched a determined effort by both teams. In the end, however, it was the superb goaltending of Bob Kilgour which finally halted the Swedish team's winning streak. After the game, the Bearcats received an arousing standing ovation from the crowd.
That was not the only praise that the Bearcats would receive, receiving a letter of congratulations from Rudy Eskow, president of the Swedish Ice Hockey Federation, who said that the Bearcats played "a great game without foul of bad feelings." In more than one respect the Bearcats had become champions.
Back Row (L-R): Jim Paul (Tr), Gino Antoniazzi, Ernie Dupuis, Alvin Jorgenson, Wally Maxwell, Steve Hrymnak, Gerry Watson, Rudy Migay, Cec Eade, Pete Johnston, Norvil (Red) Olsen, Louis Guzzi (Asst Tr).
Front Row (L-R): Ron Hurdon, Steve Ochrymowicz, Russ Poole (Mgr), Lee Fogolin Sr. (Coach), Bob Kilgour, Dr. George Gwozdecky (Pres), Ken Harris, Gary Olney, Cliff Berini.
Inset (L-R): Bert Brooks, Ab Cava, Wayne Peever.
Inducted into the Northwestern Ontario Sports Hall of Fame, September 23, 1989