Patrick Shallow stares at an old newspaper clip on the wall.
It’s hanging at the hall of fame room of the local arena in Gander.
In the article’s pictures, he’s 50 years younger. But to Shallow it doesn’t seem all that long ago.
“Time is fleeting,” he says.
While the Gander Flyers run for this year’s Herder Memorial Trophy was cut short by the Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts in the Central Division finals, Shallow can’t help but think back to all those years ago when they won the team’s first senior hockey championship.
The Flyers took the Buchans Miners four straight games – 7-3, 7-1, 10-5 and 5-0 – in the best of seven series.
Shallow was a 12-year veteran at the time, playing on the second line.
“The fans were hungry for it,” he recalls. “And it meant everything to us to be able to do it for them. It also meant we were the best in the league, the province really, because it was as far as you could go with it.”
It wasn’t that the Flyers had a weak team, Shallow says, about why it took Gander, which joined the province’s senior league in 1947, so long to win a Herder. Rather, it spoke to the high calibre hockey that was being played in the six-team league.
Eddie Philpott was in his third year with the team. He was part of both Herder championship victories for the Flyers, the second being in 1980.
“Buchans had a great hockey team, but we were a team in need and want, so you step up to do what is necessary for the win,” he said.
Philpott remembers it was the team’s support from the fans that fuelled their need to become champions.
“We had the backing of the fans for years, they followed the team to and from, and we had nothing to show as a result,” he said. “It was tremendous for us to get that win for the town. Everyone was on cloud nine.”
The Flyers claimed the trophy in Buchans, but Philpott remembers the real celebration being back in Gander upon their return.
“The celebration was held at the Flyers Club, there were so many fans the players couldn’t get in,” he said. “They sort of rolled us over their heads to the front of the club, because there was no room for us … You don’t forget things like that.”
Philpott couldn’t speak to how senior hockey fans and players feel about the Herder now, but in his day, it was truly something special.
“It was our Stanley Cup,” he said.
Gander Flyers’ first Herder-winning team
Jacques Allard, coach
Jim Freake, manager
Harry Katrynuk, captain
Benny Doyle, trainer
Source: The Beacon, March 26, 1969