This is the 1946-47 season of the Western International Hockey League:
This was the first season of this league. The West Kootenay League expanded to Los Angeles and Spokane and changed its name.
Back in 1946-47, a group of Los Angeles businessmen came up with the bright idea of entering a team in the WIHL. After operating the team for one year and losing well over $100,000 they threw in the towel. The cards were stacked against the Los Angeles group, for they had to guarantee teams from Kimberley, Nelson, Trail and Spokane all expenses to sunny California, with each club making four trips and playing a doubleheader. During the week the Los Angeles Ramblers would fly up to the Kootenay for return games.
It was a big gamble for the Los Angeles group to undertake, for Los Angeles had a second team with Vancouver, Seattle, Portland and San Francisco in the Pacific Coast Hockey League. Many thought the calibre of hockey in the WIHL was far more superior than in the other league, but they forgot that Kimberley, Nelson and Trail were only small spots on the map, and the tuxedo crowd didn't appreciate a good brand of hockey.
To add colour to the league, the Los Angeles Ramblers' executitive came up with the George Montgomery-Dinah Shore Cup, a beautiful trophy donated by the film-famed pair from Hollywood. The trophy went to the league champions, with the Kimberley Dynamiters the first team to have their name carved on the cup. It was very doubtful if the Kimberley Dynamiters had an outside chance to win the WIHL title in 1946-47--for Kimberley was the only city in the league with natural ice, and never had a home game until December 10th, and by that time they were buried deep in the WIHL basement.
The Dynamiters' coach, Ralph Redding, had real problems that fall, for the East Kootenays were enjoying an exceptionally mild fall, and the Dynamiters were depending on nearby frozen lakes and sloughs, to hold their practices. With no ice, and the hockey season soon to open, the Dynamiters were forced to set up camp in Nelson for one week, and it turned out to be a costly project. The Dynamiters were forced to play their first six games away from home, and only managed one win, before ice was available in Kimberley.
It was a hard climb for the Dynamiters--from deep in the WIHL basement suite to the penthouse--and it climaxed one of the greatest comebacks in the annals of the Kootenay League. If anyone anyone made the statement on December 31st that the Dynamiters would win the WIHL championship--they would be considered insane. The Dynamiters won the league championship in the final weekend of play, and in order to do so, had to defeat the Los Angeles Ramblers twice, in a doubleheader played in Kimberley. The Ramblers had led the league right from the start of the season, and needed only one tie in Kimberley to be declared champions.
Coach Ralph Redding had a surprise waiting for the Ramblers, with the Dynamiters closing the gap with a close 6-4 win in the first game. The Dynamiters left little doubt who was the best team, by lacing the Ramblers 14-1 in the final game of the regular season--with Jack Forsey collecting four goals. Benny Redisky scored the hat trick in that game, with Gordie Wilson gathering six assists. The Dynamiters started to jell after the new year, and finished the season with 18 straight home victories; and despite their disastrous start only lost 12 games the entire season, while winning 24.
The league played an unbalanced schedule, with the Dynamiters playing 36 games, the same as Nelson and Trail. Los Angeles participated in 32 games, with Spokane performing in 40 matches. The Kimberley Dynamiters finished with a .667 winning percentage; Los Angeles .657 percent; Trail .514 percent; Nelson .458 percent; and the Spokane Spartans .250 percent. The Spartans managed only ten wins, while losing 30 games.
The Dynamiters showed plenty of scoring punch, and ended the regular season with 203 goals, while holding the opposition to 112: thanks to the great goaltending of Arthur "Jakie" Nash, and Sammy Quigley. In a game played at Trail on December 28th, 1946, the Dynamiters were leading the Smoke Eaters 15-2, when Lyle "Butch" Swaney unloaded a long shot at the Smokies netminder, Duke Scodellaro: and after stopping the shot, in disguist, he tossed the puck into his own net to make the score 16-2. It must have been a nightmare for the fabulous Duke Scodellaro, who in my opinion was the best goaltender to ever perform in amateur hockey.
Los Angeles Ramblers Coach Kenny Stewart, a native of Lethbridge, Alberta (and a former Lethbridge Maple Leaf), was the playing-coach of the Ramblers, and he moulded together a big, rough team; with plenty of experience. Vern Kneeshaw was their number one goalie, with Fred Holger doubling as spare netminder and general mangaer. Mayer Flett, Lou Labovich, Jack Lambrecht and Harvey Barnes formed the Ramblers' defence. Up front they had Joe Levine, Benny Hayes, Max Labovich, Kenny Stewart, Jack Miller, Hassie Young, Terry Cavanaugh and Jim Fleming. Eric Bishop announced the Ramblers games (on radio), both at home and away.
Spokane Weak Spokane's Spartans, coached by Joe Benoit, had a disappointing season, and despite their poor showing, still drew capacity crowds at home. Al Laface, an ex-Dynamiter, was the Spartans' netminder, and received very little support from his defencemen, allowing a league high of 255 goals. Playing for Spokane were Jack Kirk, Louis Corrado, Bob Proulx, Sonny Barchyn, Lorne Nadeau, Dick Hammond, Len McCartney, Wilf Cook, Bill Haldane, Jake McLeod, Bob Gibson and Steve Pawlecko.
Smoke Eaters Finish Third Coach Jimmy Morris had his Smoke Eaters sailing along nicely, until they met a red-hot Nelson team in the semi-finals. Duke Scodellaro and Bill Waddell guarded the Smokies net, with Les Christensen, Sandy Shearer, Jimmy Anderson and Norm DePaolis looking after the blueline duties. The rest of the team were Ab Cronie, Mike Buckna, Emil Kwasney, Ken Stanton, Ron Gardner, Dave Nicol, Bob "Zeke" Clements, Gordie Robertson, and Hedley Marshall.
Dynamiters Go All The Way The Kimberley team received a bye into the WIHL finals, by virtue of winning the league regular season; and locked horns with the Nelson Maple Leafs for the Savage Cup. The Dynamiters finished the Leafs off in five games in their best-of-five series, winning three, losing one; and one game ended in a tie. The 1946-47 edition of the Kimberley Dynamiters will have to go down in the record book as one of the most gallant Dynamiter hockey teams. Coach Redding elected that year to go along with a rookie defenceman named Bill Jones, a small but determined player from Canmore. Many thought Jones couldn't stand the rough WIHL play, but what they didn't know was that what he lacked in size, he more than made up for it in guts. What a good investment it was: for Bill Jones stayed around for years and season-after-season, was one of the Dynamiters' top performers.
The Dynamiters, paced by the two-goal efforts of Frank "Sully" Sullivan and Sammy Calles, trounced the Leafs 7-3 in the opening game of the finals in Kimberley; before 2,200 fans. Kimberley took the second tilt 6-1, thanks to Sammy Calles' hat trick, and Jack Forsey's two-goal performance. The scene switched to Nelson for the remainder of the series, with the first game ending in a tie. The Maple Leafs held on to a 3-2 victory in the next game, for their only win. The Dynamiters wrapped up the Savage Cup with a thrilling 3-2 win, before a capacity Nelson crowd. The Dynamiters had to do it the hard way, with only a skeleton crew. Sammy Calles, Lloyd "Sandy" Sanderson and Gordie Wilson were sidelined with the flu. Jack "Buck" Kavanaugh played, despite the fact he was running an exceptionally high temperature from the same malady. Harry Brown played with a cast on, due to a broken wrist; and Sully Sullivan had a foot injury, with Jack Forsey working under a distinct handicap being banged twice on the same ankle. Redding was forced to juggle his lines, and came up with a combination of Sullivan, Kavanaugh and Forsey. Benny Redisky, Pete Clements and defenceman Harry Brown formed the other forward unit; with Red Dezall the utility forward. Bill Jones, Bill "Tank" Johnston and Lyle "Butch" Swaney were a tower of strength in front of Jake Nash. Jack Forsey, Buck Kavanaugh and Bill Jones scored one goal each for the Dynamiters, all coming in the second period; and Jakie Nash kept the pressing Leafs at bay in the third frame.
Nelson Maple Leafs The Maple Leafs, coached by Len Bicknell, went down fighting and received excellent goaltending from Jess Seaby. Others on the Leafs' roster were George Barefoot, Steve Krizan, Bill Vickers, Roy Allen, Doug Winlaw, Jack Kilpatrick, Spence Tatchell, Red Koehle, John Fargher, John Arichuk and John Hyrciuk (who is no relation to Bill Hyrciuk of Kimberley and Kamloops fame).
|Los Angeles Ramblers||52||31||21||0||203||112||.596|
|Trail Smoke Eaters||36||18||17||1||173||162||.514|
|Nelson Maple Leafs||36||16||19||1||140||147||.458|
Best of 5
- Nelson 2 Trail 0
- Nelson 3 Trail 2
- Nelson 1 Trail 0
Best of 5
- Kimberley 7 Nelson 3
- Kimberley 6 Nelson 1
- Kimberley 3 Nelson 3
- Nelson 3 Kimberley 2
- Kimberley 3 Nelson 2