Brief History of Hockey in Newfoundland
The first recorded ice hockey game in Newfoundland was over a century ago at Quidi Vidi in 1896. The first indoor game was on February 24, 1898 at the Victoria Rink on King's Road in St. John's. (source: 'Stickhandling into History' by Geoff Meeker 2008)
The organization of ice hockey on the island began In 1898 with the formation of the Newfoundland Hockey Association (on January 11) and a seven-team St. John's senior league. One of the more prominent early builders was Robert G. Reid Jr. who played hockey at McGill University. He would help organize and play in the first St. John's league and would gather support to build the first proper rink on the island, The Prince of Wales Rink (later known as The Prince's Rink). The Prince's Rink would officially open January 21, 1899 and the first organized ice hockey on the island would begin. At the end of the inaugural season, the Bankers and the Vics would play to determine the first senior league champion.
In August 1937, the Prince's Rink would have the island's first artificial ice surface but the building would be lost in a fire in November 1941. Following the loss of the Prince's Rink, all men's senior hockey would be played in St. Bonaventure's Forum until Memorial Stadium was opened in January 1955.
Newfoundland Regiment soldiers outside Prince’s Rink, St. John’s
The first recorded women's ice hockey in Newfoundland was played in March 1907 by Methodist College students in a series at the Prince's Rink.
Grand Falls Single Ladies’ Hockey Team 1913
These wartime photographs of the Newfoundland Regiment hockey team were taken at Windsor Nova Scotia in 1917. The team played a series of games in Windsor during their ten-week quarantine before sailing to England in April.
The first hockey games played between two schools was in 1899 between Bishops Field and the Methodist College.
In 1934, Grand Falls Academy and Notre Dame Academy competed in a hockey championship to determine the first winner of the Sir Vincent Jones Shield. The competition for the Jones Shield would last 65 years.
First Championship Trophy
Governor Charles Cavendish Boyle donated the first Newfoundland ice hockey championship trophy in 1904. It was originally intended for a competition between Newfoundland and the Maritimes but this championship didn't materialize. Alternatively, the Boyle Challenge Cup would be awarded to the St. John's Senior League Champions from 1904 to 1971.
An all-Newfoundland ice hockey champion would be crowned for the first time in 1935. Ralph Herder had recently donated the Herder Memorial Trophy to be awarded to Newfoundland's best ice hockey team.
The Corner Brook All-Stars, who became the 1935 Western Champions after defeating Grand Falls, were invited to St. John's to play the Eastern Champions. The Western champs would play the St. John's Guards in a two-game All-Newfoundland Championship series. The Corner Brook All-Stars would win the series to become the first winners of the Herder Memorial Trophy.
Prior to 1959, Minor Hockey was played locally and there were no province-wide competitions. However, teams from St. John's and Corner Brook did play outside the province in the late 1950s. The St. John's Pee Wee All-Stars would represent Newfoundland in the Young Canada Week Pee Wee Hockey Tournament at Goderich, Ontario in 1956 and 1957.
The first tournament organized to decide a provincial minor hockey champion was a Pee Wee Tournament held in Corner Brook in April 1959. The teams competing were Corner Brook (2 teams), St. John's, Bell Island, Buchans and Deer Lake. The tournament was won by one of the Corner Brook teams who were awarded the first all-Newfoundland minor hockey championship. They were the first recipients of the trophy donated by West Coast Building Supplies to be awarded each year to the best Pee Wee team in the Province.
Bantam and Midget would have their first Provincial Championships in 1961 and 1964, respectively, followed by Atom in 1977.
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Chronology of Artificial Ice Surfaces Opening in Newfoundland
- Prince's Rink (St.John's) - August 11, 1937 (the rink opened on January 10, 1899 and (officially on 21st) but was destroyed by fire on November 28, 1941)
- Grand Falls Stadium - November 22, 1948 (The first regulation size surface with artificial ice, was renamed Joe Byrne Memorial Stadium on March 21, 1991)
- Memorial Stadium (St. John's) - January 1955
- Humber Gardens (Corner Brook) - September 22, 1955
- Gander Gardens - March 10, 1956
- Bell Island Arena - November 27, 1956 (Official opening March 4, 1957)
- S.W. Moores Stadium (Harbour Grace) - 1958
- Clarenville Arena - December 1959
- Buchans Arena - 1961 (later renamed T.A Soper Memorial Stadium)
- Stephenville Gardens - January 1968
- Lewisporte Stadium - October 18, 1973
- Windsor Stadium - February 21, 1976
- Bishop's Falls Stadium - April 1977 (later renamed Pat O'Reilly Memorial Stadium)
- Bruce II Arena (Port aux Basques) - November 23, 1996
- Pepsi Centre (Corner Brook) - 1997
- Stephenville Dome - 1999
- Gander Community Centre - May 5, 2000
- Clarenville Events Centre - January 23, 2010
This work-in-progress website was started in April 2012 in an attempt to compile a digital archive of photos and other information to help document the past hockey history of Newfoundland, Canada for all to share. It is a collection point that's purely educational and not-for-profit. Care is taken to give credit where possible for Information or photos that are either contributed or for material copied from other websites. Any contributions towards improving this archive is much appreciated - Doug
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