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Durham Thundercats

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Durham Thundercats
Durham T-Cats
City: Durham, Ontario
League: WOAA Senior Hockey League
Division: North
Founded: 1972 (1972)
Home Arena: Durham Community Centre
Colors: Black, Red, and White
Head Coach: Bruce Marshall
Franchise history
1972-1988: Durham 72's
1988-Present: Durham Thundercats

The Durham Thundercats, originally the Durham 72's, are a senior hockey team based out of Durham, Ontario, Canada. The Thundercats date back to the towns Centennial, 1972, and have been an extremely successful team in all loops of the Western Ontario Athletic Association Senior "AA" Hockey League.

The 72'sEdit

During the 1972 Centennial celebration in Durham, locals decided a second Men's hockey club could succeed and thus put into place the formation of the current Durham Thundercats. Working alongside but playing out of different leagues as the towns established team, the Huskies, the town applied to and was accepted to enter the Western Ontario Athletic Association's Northern league. The organization of this second team allowed many talented local players a place to play competitive Senior Hockey, and would lay the foundation for 40 years of Championship calibre teams.

The Durham 72's, as they were named, were founded as members of the Intermediate "C" loop of the WOAA. Their competition would be found in other local teams like Arthur, Woodford, Thornbury, Elora, and Chatsworth. The 72's finished their first season winning their loop but then lost the Major Intermediate "C" Championship to the Milverton Four Wheel Drives. The next season saw them finish first overall again with 14 wins 4 losses and 2 ties, but fall to Arthur in the loop final.

A third attempt at securing a championship finally paid off as the 72's won the 1975 WOAA Intermediate C championship. Unfortunately, the team would be required to take a two year hiatus until a new arena was planned & developed. Returning to the ice in 1977/78, the 72's were playing at the Intermediate "B" level and were led by current coach Bruce Marshall. 'Beagle' as he is fondly known, led the league in scoring, (a feat he would repeat in the 1985/86 season) and the 72's defeated Palmerston (later known as the Palmerston 81's) to win the "B" Championship. The 72's were challenged by the Intermediate "C" Champion Lion's Head Northstars for the WOAA Grand Championship and lost a hard fought battle that would lay the ground work for a tumultuous rivalry that would last for years to come.

Over the course of the next three seasons, Durham would endure successes but fall short of the ultimate goal, including the 1981 defeat at the hands of the Mitchell Red Devils, in the Intermediate "B" final. During the summer of 1981, the league underwent a major restructuring. The disbandment of two other local leagues (Central Grey-Bruce League, CGBHL and the Central Ontario Hockey League, COHL) increased the team numbers in The WOAA and required the creation of the Upper Tier Intermediate A Division and the Lower Tier Intermediate D Division.

Changes in the league format proved to be a good thing for Durham as in 1982, the 72's won their first ever Intermediate "A" Championship, beating Lions Head in seven games. Led by the Leagues Leading scorer in Randy '12' Reay, the 7th and final game was played in Markdale, in front of a sold out crowd. The next season saw the 72's lose the Intermediate "A" Championship to the Woodford Royals, who in turn lost the Grand Championship to Lion's Head. In 1986, with coach Bev Nixon behind the bench, the 72's were led again by two-time league scoring champ Bruce 'Beagle' Marshall. Ultimately losing to Woodford in the play-offs, changes were again, on the horizon. With new coach Dennis 'Guido' Graham now calling the shots, the 72's moved to the newly formed Northern division with Lucknow, Ripley, Kincardine, Teeswater, and Lion's Head. After finishing first with 16 wins, 4 losses, and 2 ties, they won the Intermediate "A" Championship but lost the Grand Championship in 6 games.

The 1987-88 season would see the end of an era in regards to the Durham 72's. The lackluster season ended early with a record of 6 wins, 6 losses, and 4 ties and the winds of change soon came knocking. This marked the last season the team would be known as the Durham 72's.

The ThundercatsEdit

The summer of 1988 would prove to be a major change for the team known only as the 72's, for the last 16yrs. Given a face lift, they traded in the "72's" for the "Thundercats" and switched the Green and Yellow for the Black and Silver. The effect was instantaneous as the Thundercats would terrorize the league for the next dozen years. Once again a change proved fruitful and the 1988-89 season had the T-Cats finish first in the league with 19 wins, 2 losses, and 2 ties. Solid goaltending from Scott MacMillan, Mark Taylor & Gord McGinnis, along with the 90pt seasons from Steve Reay and Todd Stoddart, they would defeat the Lucknow Lancers to win the Intermediate Grand Championship in their first year.

They followed this up in 1989/90 with another winning season, but lost a memorable hard fought battle with Kincardine.

Over the course of the next 8yrs, the Thundercats would dominate the WOAA. In the 1990/91 newly formed Senior "A" finals, they were challenged by the Tavistock Royals. A hard fought series ended when Brian Sweeney would score in overtime in the 6th game and allow the Thundercats to emerge victorious and Senior A Champions. Some members of the team took immediate vacations but halfway through they got word that the WOAA had been attempting to contact them to set up dates for a Grand Championship series with the Arthur Tigers, the Intermediate "B" champions. The 3 out of 5 series would go the distance with Arthur pulling off the upset to win the Grand Championship. The series of course was not without controversy. The two head coaches were longtime friends who would test that friendship severely. A questionable arena malfunction canceled game two in Arthur, which resulted in the series lasting an extra weekend longer. This resulted in the Cats losing the services of a couple of players for the last two games, due to prearranged trip commitments to Florida. Arthur would win game 5 in Durham in front the largest crowd ever (1,000+) people, to claim their only Sr. A Grand Championship.

After the previous years controversy, the Thundercats began the first of two consecutive, three year runs as Champion. Beating Tavistock and Lakeshore respectively in 1992 & 93', they were unopposed WOAA Senior Grand Champions. After winning a third consecutive title in 94' vs Tavistock, they were challenged by the Ripley Wolves. Durham swept the Wolves for their third straight Grand Championship. The once proud OHA Senior loop was now defunct and several teams now joined the WOAA. This required another level of league play and sson the Senior "AA" Level was adopted. The new teams and influx of OHA talent into the league also created an interesting challenge for the Thundercats, who only added 4 players from the now defunct OHA Durham Huskies.

In 1995, the T-Cats proved human and lost to the Tavistock Royals in the sixth game of the Senior "AA" championship. The rivalry of the late 70's and early 80's with Lions Head was now back seat to the dislike these two teams developed for each other over the course of the last 4 years. 3 Senior AA Championship series against each other would forge a lifetime of memories, and even a couple of friendships. The T-cats would come back with a vengeance though, returning to their winning ways and capturing Senior AA Championships in 1996, 1997, and 1998. Over the course of the last 10 seasons, the Thundercats won eight league championships.

Durham Thundercats Logo

2000's Logo

Finding themselves once again in the finals in 1999, they would suffer defeat at the hands of the upstart Milverton Four Wheel Drives. No longer playing but still feeling the competitive spirit, Todd Stoddart took over coaching duties in 2000. Regular season success did not pan out in the play-offs as a seventh game loss to Palmerston in the semi-finals would put an end to the season. With future Mayor Kevin Eccles now behind the bench, the T-Cat's would knocked off the Hensall Sherwoods to win the Senior "AA" crown in 01', but would lose to Milverton in 02'. Longtime 72 & T-Cat Rob Reed would take over coaching duties in 2002/03 and amassed and incredible regular season record of 22 wins and 2 losses, tying the record of 1989. Again, regular season success proved to be fodder as the Cat's couldn't sustain their winning ways.

In 2003/04, the Thundercats, with Reed behind the bench again, would plough their way through the regular season and then carry-on to win another Senior "AA" championship, defeating the Clinton Radars in the league final. 2004/05 proved to be an interesting season. With the 2004–05 NHL lockout looming, the Thundercats openly allowed the Ottawa Senators Chris Neil to practice with the team. With the cancellation of the season, Neil joined his three older brothers and signed with the Thundercats. Unfortunately he signed without permission from the WOAA. In the only game he played, Neil recorded one assist in a 5-4 win over the Mildmay Monarchs. Asked about Neil playing against his team, Monarchs coach's mentioned that it was unfortunate they were unaware Neil was playing, or they would have promoted it better. Mildmays feelings however were not universal and soon after, the WOAA announced that they would not allow actively professional players compete in the WOAA regardless of the NHL lockout. For playing Neil without league permission, the win was taken away and awarded to Mildmay and Durham's coach Rob Reed was suspended. Without the ability to play with his brothers, Neil soon shipped off to the American Hockey League's Binghamton Senators, and they T-Cats were unable to duplicate the success of the previous year.

The 2005-06 season saw a new Team President in Randy Reay, and a new Coach, in John Antonopolis. Antonopolis was already well known in the area, having already been suspended by the OHA after some successes but also for questionable coaching practices. With Reed in the Assistant coach's role, Antonopolis weaved his magic and once again the T-Cats were providing Durham fans with the kind of hockey they were used to seeing in the 1990s. After edging out the Elora Rocks for first place in the WOAA with 22 wins and 3 losses, the Thundercats plowed through the playoffs to defeat those same Rocks 4-games-to-1 to win another WOAA Senior "AA" championship.

The 2006-07 was a winning season for the Thundercats with 15 wins, 8 losses, and a tie, but the Thundercats fell victim to a new system in the WOAA that segregates Senior "AA" from Senior "A" before the playoffs, not during the opening round. The T-Cats finished just out of reach for the Senior "AA" loop, but proved worthy by going on to add another Senior "A" title to the long list of Championships.

In 2007-08, the Cats limped through the regular season, both on the ice and off. Antonopolis was unable to revive the magic from previous years even while the core of the T-Cats remained virtually unchanged. Ending up 6th during the regular season the Cats won the first round of play-offs but lost in A Semi-Finals.

2008-09 proved much the same as the previous year, ending up 5th during the regular and losing in the A Semi-Finals

2009-10, 5th, lost in A Finals


In remembrance of two of the greatest teams in Durham hockey history, the 1989 Greater Ontario Senior "AA" champion Durham Huskies who made it to the Hardy Cup semi-finals will play off against the 1989 WOAA Intermediate Grand Champion Durham Thundercats on April 4, 2009 in a 20th Anniversary Alumni game.

Season-by-season recordEdit

Note: GP = Games played, W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, OTL = Overtime Losses Pts = Points, GF = Goals for, GA = Goals against

Season GP W L T OTL GF GA PTS Finish Playoffs
1982-83 21 9 10 2 - -- -- 20 4th WOAA Int. A Lost Int. A Final
1983-84 11* 8 2 1 - 81 57 17 1st WOAA Int. A Lost Int. A Final
1984-85 20 6 13 1 - -- -- 13 6th WOAA Int. A Lost Round Robin QF
1985-86 23 14 8 1 - 152 124 29 2nd WOAA North Lost Int. C SF
1986-87 22 16 4 2 - 154 93 34 1st WOAA North Int. A Champions
1987-88 16 6 6 4 - 108 98 16 4th WOAA North Lost Int. A QF
1988-89 23 19 2 2 - 207 97 40 1st WOAA North Int. A and Grand Champions
1989-90 21 11 4 6 - 162 116 28 3rd WOAA North Lost Int. A SF
1990-91 23 20 2 1 - 156 84 41 1st WOAA North Sr. A Champions
1991-92 25 20 3 2 - 206 110 42 1st WOAA North Sr. A and Grand Champions
1993-94 20 14 3 3 - -- -- 31 2nd WOAA Sr. A Sr. A and Grand Champions
1999-00 25 17 5 2 1 -- -- 37 2nd WOAA North
2000-01 24 21 2 1 0 -- -- 43 1st WOAA Sr "AA" Champions
2001-02 24 21 1 1 1 179 79 44 1st WOAA Sr Lost Final
2002-03 24 22 2 0 0 209 66 44 1st WOAA Sr
2003-04 24 18 4 2 0 162 69 38 2nd WOAA Sr "AA" Champions
2004-05 25 15 6 2 2 129 88 34 9th WOAA Sr
2005-06 25 22 3 - 0 171 76 44 1st WOAA Sr "AA" Champions
2006-07 24 15 8 - 1 124 97 31 8th WOAA Sr "A" Champions
2007-08 26 12 13 - 1 133 129 25 6th WOAA North Lost "A" Semi-final
2008-09 20 14 6 - 0 117 85 28 5th WOAA North Lost "A" Semi-final
2009-10 20 11 8 - 1 101 107 23 5th WOAA North Lost "A" Final
2010-11 26 11 12 - 3 107 143 25 7th WOAA North Lost Qualifier
2011-12 24 15 5 - 4 113 102 34 4th WOAA North

(*) denotes that the results of the final nine games of 1983-84 are currently missing.

List of ChampionshipsEdit

The 72's

  • 1974-75 WOAA Intermediate "C" Champions
  • 1978-79 WOAA Intermediate "B" Champions
  • 1981-82 WOAA Intermediate "A" Champions
  • 1986-87 WOAA Intermediate "A" Champions

Runner-Up in: Int. "C" 1972-73, Int. "B" 1980-81, Int. "A" 1982-83, 1983-84

The Thundercats

  • 1988-89 WOAA Intermediate Grand-Champions
  • 1990-91 WOAA Intermediate "A" Champions
  • 1991-92 WOAA Senior Grand-Champions
  • 1992-93 WOAA Senior Grand-Champions
  • 1993-94 WOAA Senior Grand-Champions
  • 1995-96 WOAA Senior "AA" Champions
  • 1996-97 WOAA Senior "AA" Champions
  • 1997-98 WOAA Senior "AA" Champions
  • 2000-01 WOAA Senior "AA" Champions
  • 2003-04 WOAA Senior "AA" Champions
  • 2005-06 WOAA Senior "AA" Champions
  • 2006-07 WOAA Senior "A" Champions

Runner-Up in: Sr. "AA" 1994-95, 1998–99, 2001-02, Sr. "A" 2009-10

Notable alumniEdit

Related linksEdit

External linksEdit

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