|Grimsby Peach Kings|
|Niagara & District Junior C Hockey League|
|Head Coach||Dave Brownridge|
|General Manager|| Don Kilgallen|
|Arena||Peach King Centre|
|Team Colors||Maroon, White, and Gold|
|League Champions||2003, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008 and 2010|
|Clarence Schmalz Cups||1940, 2003, and 2004|
The Grimsby Peach Kings are a Junior "C" team based out of Grimsby, Ontario. They play out of the Niagara Junior C Hockey League. Before joining the Niagara "C", the Kings played in the Golden Horseshoe Junior B Hockey League.
One of the oldest hockey clubs in Ontario, the Peach Kings officially joined the Ontario Hockey Association in 1922, however the "Peach Kings" moniker had been used for local sports teams for several decades prior. The name refers to Grimsby's unique ability to cultivate peaches, a fruit that cannot be farmed without proper conditions.
In the early 1920s Col. Roberts had built a large cold storage facility for fruit in the summer that had ample capacity to make ice in the winter. In turn, work began on an arena in the summer of 1921. When the arena opened in January 1922, it was one of only 8 arenas in the world and the Montreal Canadiens soon took advantage of it for their training camp. Shortly after, the professional Saskatoon Sheiks (who were later sold to New York to become the Rangers) also held training camps in Grimsby, and the town became an overnight hockey hotspot.
For the 1924-25 season, sponsors got involved and began scouring Ontario for the best hockey players to play for the Peach Kings. When this squad took to the ice in the fall of 1924, they skated on the same ice as Hall of Famers Howie Morenz, Georges Vézina, and Aurel Joliat skated on for training camp with the Canadiens. With Pud Reid as their captain, they took the league title that year playing against Brantford, Niagara Falls, Welland, Port Colborne, and Dunnville. In the OHA Intermediate A playoffs, the Peach Kings eliminated Paris, Toronto, and New Hamburg on their way to the finals. They beat Kingston in a two-game series to take the OHA championship.
In accordance with the custom of the time, the Intermediate champions would play the previous year's Allan Cup champions, the top senior amateur team in Canada. What was supposed to be a decisive victory for the famous Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds over Grimsby turned out different. With only 1000 fans watching at Toronto's Mutual St. Arena (the precursor to Maple Leaf Gardens) what was expected to a blowout, the Grimsby upstarts led 3-0 after two periods. The Greyhounds scored twice in the 3rd, but it was not enough as Grimsby held on. This marked the only time in history the Allan Cup titleholders lost to the Intermediates.
From this heralded team, Gerry Carson went on the play for the Montreal Canadiens, Shorty Horne played for the Toronto Maple Leafs, and Pop McVicar, Artie Clark, and Pud Reid all played for the Chicago Cardinals of the American Association.
In 1939-40, the Peach Kings won the OHA Jr. C Final. Featuring Mush Miller and Red Mason, the Peach Kings defeated Bolton to face Markham in the provincial final. Games were held in Grimsby and the famed Maple Leaf Gardens. They brought home a second provincial championship and won the Clarence Schmalz Cup (however it was yet to be named that).
Returning to Intermediate hockey after World War II, the Peach Kings had more good years. They won their local Fruitbelt League in 1946 and 1947, but lost to Owen Sound in the OHA playoffs in 1946. In 1947, they made it to the OHA finals to play the Markham Millionaires in a best of 5 series. With the Peach Kings leading the series 2-1, the series shifted to Grimsby ice. Fans lined up all afternoon to get into the tiny arena, and eventually over 2000 packed the rink to watch a 3-3 tie after 60 minutes. The 10-minute overtime period was not sudden death like it is today, and Markham scored early. But with less than 2 minutes remaining, Grimsby rookie Barry Blanchard wound up behind his own net, carried the puck down the ice, and dropped it to Norman Warner who evened the score. Then with 39 seconds remaining, William Hutchison put the puck past the Markham goalie to win the Provincial Championship.
The Peach Kings struggled through the 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s, but almost always retained a team wearing the Peach Kings sweater. Fortunes reversed however when the team was purchased in the mid-1990s and re-emerged as a Jr C team. By 2001, the team was strong claiming 1st place in the league for the 2002-03 season. In the playoffs, they dismissed Dunnville, Dundas, Norwich and the defending Ontario champion Essex 73's on the way to the OHA Finals. Led by captain Dean Davidson and stars Matt Hodges, Kyle Hodges, Biff Fuller, Don Forbes, Ryan Toth, and Josh Horley, the Peach Kings beat Georgina in four games to claim the Provincial "C" Championship for the first time since 1940.
The following year with many of the same players, as well as new ones such as Jay Anderson, Derek Nichols and Steve Foster playing a larger role, the Peach Kings repeated by winning again, this time over Wingham in the Finals. These were the first back-to-back championships in team history. The following year, 2004-05, the Peach Kings made a run for the finals again led by Hodges, Fuller, Toth, Nichols, Anderson, and Foster with newcomers like star goalie Steve Mason, Dan Ellis, Joel Bristo, Joel Agnew, and returnee Scott Clark, the Peach Kings played to the finals again looking to win for a third straight time. Taking a 3-2 series lead over the Essex 73's into the Grimsby Arena, it looked like Grimsby would win again having not lost at home all season. Essex, making their first of five straight CSC Finals appearances, fought back and won Game 6 and Game 7 in Essex and reclaimed the provinical title which Grimsby had held for the previous two years.
At the 2008 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships, former Peach King goaltender Steve Mason led the Canadian National Team to a fourth straight gold medal. He went 5-0 with a .951 save percentage at the tournament and won various awards: First Team All-Star, Top Goalie in the tournament, as well as MVP of the Tournament.
Grimsby has claimed eight straight Niagara East division titles from 2003 to 2010, ensuring they have finished in the final eight teams in Ontario over this time, only twice (2006 and 2009) not making the semi-finals (final four teams). However, recently the team has not matched the playoff success of the 2003 and 2004 championship years. The team has three Clarence Schmalz Cups.
|1981-82||35||10||21||4||-||-||-||24||6th GHJHL||Lost Final|
|2002-03||36||30||2||3||1||176||95||64||1st NJCHL||Won League, Won CSC|
|2003-04||36||28||5||2||1||216||77||59||1st NJCHL||Won League, Won CSC|
|2004-05||36||28||5||3||0||202||83||59||1st NJCHL||Won League, Lost CSC Final|
|2005-06||36||33||3||0||0||194||82||66||1st NJCHL||Lost Final|
|2006-07||36||28||7||0||1||207||103||57||1st NJCHL||Won League, Lost CSC Semi-final|
|2007-08||36||32||2||2||0||213||62||66||1st NJCHL||Won League, Lost CSC Semi-Final|
|2009-10||36||27||9||-||0||135||92||54||3rd NJCHL||Won League, Lost CSC Semi-final|
Clarence Schmalz Cup appearancesEdit
- 1940: Grimsby Peach Kings defeated Markham Millionaires 3-games-to-2
- 2003: Grimsby Peach Kings defeated Georgina Ice 4-games-to-none
- 2004: Grimsby Peach Kings defeated Wingham Ironmen 4-games-to-none
- 2005: Essex 73's defeated Grimsby Peach Kings 4-games-to-3
- Paul Beraldo
- Bill Berg
- Bill Carson
- Gerry Carson
- George Horne
- Steve Mason
- Jack McVicar
- Dennis Ververgaert