The Oil Kings are Memorial Cup Champions for the first time since 1966. However, the history of the team has a compelling story of the years in between.
Hap Emms, the coach of the Niagara Falls Flyers, had just seen his team beat the Edmonton Oil Kings 5-2 in the fifth game of the 1963 Memorial Cup. However, he did not have a smile on his face.
It had been a rough, hard fought series in the Edmonton Gardens; game five being the bloodiest. Journal columnist Hal Pawson wrote, “It’s gone beyond a joke. Grown men turned hypocrites, players bashing each other in the head, and fans have flipped their lids”.
Oil King Greg Pilling had whacked defenseman Rich Morin over the head with a hockey stick, sending the Flyer to the dressing room with a concussion and a dozen stitches.
Edmonton led the series 3-2 on that night. The list of casualties on the Flyers team injury list was longer than the game 5 scoring summary. Since the series had begun, the Flyers suffered a total of two broken legs, ( to wingers Gary Harmer and Gary Dornhoefer), Bill Glashen and Ron Hergott shared 32 stiches. There were three concussions and two black eyes spread amongst Don Awrey , George Gardner, and Rich Morin. Bill Goldsworthy had a torn solar plexus muscle, Terry Crisp was nursing a bad charley horse, and Wayne Maxner was suffering from a rib injury.
“If they want the Cup that badly, let them have it,” Emms growled, “My players can’t go on the way things are going right now and risk the chance of being crippled for life. I don’t want to comment of the refereeing at this point, but I don’t want to return to Edmonton, ever.”
As for Pawson, who had called for a cancellation of the series, all was forgiven when he reflected on the hectic minute of the final game.
“It was a minute of which Edmonton , and all Alberta, can be forever proud. It was an epitome of everything that is wonderful about true sport and sportsmanship.”
I believe the same could be said today; Welcome Home to our champions again, 51 years later.