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Thunder Bay Junior A Hockey League

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The Thunder Bay Junior A Hockey League (TBJHL) was a Canadian Junior ice hockey league that existed from circa 1920 to 1978. The TBJHL operated in Northwestern Ontario, primarily in the Thunder Bay region.

The Thunder Bay Junior A Hockey League was what is now known as a Major Junior hockey league from roughly 1920 until the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association realignment of 1970. After 1970, the TBJHL was relegated to Tier II Junior A and competed for the Manitoba Centennial Trophy until the league folded in 1980.

Thunder Bay and the TBJHL was considered on the border region of what people would call Eastern Canada and Western Canada. Due to its location, the Thunder Bay league often switched from East to West year-to-year in National playdowns. The league's remoteness resulted in the league's few teams from competing in the neighbouring Manitoba Junior Hockey League or Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League, making the leagues existence a necessity to the region's hockey community.

Thunder Bay Junior A Hockey League teams made the Memorial Cup finals four times in fifty years, winning Canada's top junior hockey prize in 1922 (Fort William War Veterans) and 1948 (Port Arthur West End Bruins).

The TBJHL is the indirect predecessor of the Superior International Junior Hockey League who brought a Junior A league back to the region in 2001, 21 years after the TBJHL folded.

HistoryEdit

Although hockey in Thunder Bay dates back well before 1920, the Thunder Bay Junior Hockey League first competed in Memorial Cup action in 1921. In only their second year of operation at the Junior A level, the league celebrated their first National championship as the Fort William War Veterans defeated the Regina Pats 5-4 and tied them 3-3 to win the championship. To get there, the Vets had to defeat Toronto Aura Lee in the Eastern Canada final, beating them 5-3 in a one-game showdown.

It took 26 years for a team from the Thunder Bay Junior A Hockey League to repeat the feat. In 1947-48, the Port Arthur West End Bruins finished the regular season in first place with a record of 9 wins, no losses, no ties. They were given a berth directly into the league final where they met the Fort William Columbus Canadiens. The first game resulted in a 7-7 tie, and the Bruins won the second game 9-7. Game three sparked some controversy as the game was tied 5-5 and the Columbus Canadiens walked off the ice. In response, the league ruled the game a forfeit in the Bruins favour. Games four and five were won by the Bruins 8-3 and 5-3 to give the series and league championship to the Bruins 4-games-to-none with 1 tie. In the Eastern Canadian semi-final, the Bruins had to play the Manitoba Junior Hockey League's Winnipeg Monarchs. Port Arthur won game one 12-3, game two 6-4, and game three 10-4. The Monarchs started to rally, winning game four 7-5 and game five 5-3. Finally, in game six, the Bruins were able to put the final nail in the coffin as they won 7-2 and took the series 4-games-to-2. Next, Port Arthur found themselves in the Abbott Cup final against the Southern Alberta Junior Hockey League's Lethbridge Native Sons. Lethbridge took game one 6-1 and game two 7-6. Port Arthur came back with a 7-4 win. Lethbridge put the series on the brink with a 5-4 win before Port Arthur came back with three solid victories; 5-0, 6-4, 11-1; to come from behind and take the Abbott Cup. This earned them a berth in the Memorial Cup against the Ontario Hockey Association's Barrie Flyers in Toronto. Ignited by the Abbott Cup final comeback, the Bruins kept on rolling, sweeping the Flyers 4-games-to-none with scores of 10-8, 8-1, 5-4, and 9-8 respectively. This would be the final Memorial Cup won by a TBJHL team.

In 1970, the Thunder Bay Junior A Hockey League was caught in the transformation of Junior hockey. In the spring of 1970, the Fort William Westfort Hurricanes defeated the Port Arthur Marrs 3-games-to-2 and the Fort William Canadiens 4-games-to-1 to win the TBJHL championship. They then played the Dauphin Kings of the MJHL in the Abbott Cup semi-final and defeated them 4-games-to-2. This advanced them to the Abbott Cup, essentially the final-four of Canadian junior hockey at the time. Up against the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League's Weyburn Red Wings, were defeated 4-games-to-2 despite leading 2-games-to-none at one point. Weyburn ended up losing the Memorial Cup final to the Montreal Junior Canadiens. During them summer, the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association decided to demote five of the six Junior A league of Western Canada to Tier II Junior A and rename Junior A to Major Junior. The effected leagues were the BCJHL, AJHL, SJHL, MJHL, and TBJHL. The only league that was left at the Major Junior level was the rebellious Western Canada Junior Hockey League. The five remaining leagues were barred from competing for the Memorial Cup, even though, all but the TBJHL, retained the right to the Abbott Cup. Two leagues remained at Major Junior in Eastern Canada, the Ontario Major Junior Hockey League, formerly known as the OHA, and the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. All that remained for Tier II Junior A in Eastern Canada were a couple small leagues in Ontario (SOJAHL, CJHL) and even smaller leagues in the Maritime Provinces. To balance the power a bit, the CAHA assigned the TBJHL to the Eastern section of the national playdowns for the first time since 1927.

In 1971, the TBJHL allowed for the expansion of the St. Paul, MN-sponsored Thunder Bay Vulcans. The Vulcans won the league title in their first season. In 1972, the St. Paul group were granted the right to create their own league in Minnesota. They brought the Thunder Bay franchise with them, renaming it the Thunder Bay Centennials, and lured away the Thunder Bay Hurricanes. For the 1972-73 season, the newly formed Can-Am Junior Hockey League was actually allowed to represent the Thunder Bay district at the National level. In 1973-74, the Centennials fled the league and were renamed the Thunder Bay Beavers. The Can-Am league joined USA Hockey and were renamed the Midwest Junior Hockey League. The only Canadian team that remained was the Hurricanes. The Hercs competed in the TBJHL playoffs in 1974, despite not being a league member, and won the region against the crowned league champion Fort William Canadiens. The Hercs returned to the TBJHL fulltime for the 1974-75 season.

In 1976, league expanded to 6 teams with the induction of the Atikokan Voyageurs and Thunder Bay Blades. In 1978 the league still had all six teams 6 teams: Atikonan, the Blades, the Hercs, the Canadians, the Beavers, and the Case Eagles. In the 1978 teams, those 5 Thunder Bay teams shrunk to 2: the Buccaneers and the North Stars, and Atikokan stayed but folded mid-season. In 1979-80, the Nip-Rock Rangers were promoted to Jr. A with the two Thunder Bay teams, but that would be the final season of the TBJHL.

In 1980, the Thunder Bay Kings were created as a powerhouse Junior A team. In 1984, they were renamed the Thunder Bay Flyers and joined the United States Hockey League. They won the Anderson Cup as USHL regular season champs in 1988, 1989, 1991, and 1992; the Clark Cup as American Junior A National Champions in 1988 and 1989; the Dudley Hewitt Cup as Central Canadian Champions in 1988, 1989, 1991, 1992, and 1995; the Manitoba Centennial Cup as Canadian Tier II Junior A National Champions in 1989 and 1992. The Flyers folded in 2000.

In 2001, the Superior International Junior Hockey League was formed, following in the footsteps of the Thunder Bay Junior A Hockey League.

TeamsEdit

  • Fort William Columbus Club (1935-43)
  • Fort William Columbus Club Millers (1943-46)
  • Fort William Columbus Canadians (1946-49)
  • Fort William Canadiens (1949-68)
  • Fort William Canadians (1968-78)
  • Thunder Bay North Stars (1978-80)
  • Fort William Hurricane-Rangers (1940-50)
  • Fort William Hurricanes (1950-66)
  • Westfort Hurricanes (1966-72)
  • Thunder Bay Westfort Hurricanes (1972-75)
  • Degagne Hurricanes (1975-78)
  • Degagne Buccaneers (1978-80)
  • Fort William Juniors (circa 1925-29 and 1930-35)
  • Fort William Legion (1929-30)
  • Fort William Kams (1935-36)
  • Fort William North Stars (circa 1925-26)
  • Fort William St. Andrews (1926-31)
  • Port Arthur West End (circa 1925-32 and 1933-46)
  • Port Arthur West End Retrievers (1932-33)
  • Port Arthur West End Bruins (1946-55)
  • Thunder Bay Vulcans (1971-72)
  • Thunder Bay Centennials (1972-73)
  • Thunder Bay Beavers (1973-78)
  • Port Arthur Juniors (circa 1925-43 and 1946-49)
  • Port Arthur Flyers (1943-46 and 1950-53)
  • Port Arthur North Stars (1953-66)
  • Port Arthur Marrs (1966-70)
  • Thunder Bay Marrs (1970-71)
  • Thunder Bay "Case" Eagles (1971-78)

Playoff ChampionsEdit

Major Junior

  • 1921 Fort William YMCA
  • 1922 Fort William War Veterans
  • 1923 Fort William Cubs
  • 1924 Kenora Thistles
  • 1925 Fort William Cubs
  • 1926 Fort William Juniors
  • 1927 Port Arthur West End
  • 1928 Kenora Thistles
  • 1929 Kenora Thistles
  • 1930 Fort William Legion
  • 1931 Fort William Westfort Maroons
  • 1932 Port Arthur Juniors
  • 1933 Port Arthur Juniors
  • 1934 Port Arthur West End
  • 1935 Port Arthur Juniors
  • 1936 Fort William Kams
  • 1937 Port Arthur Juniors
  • 1938 Port Arthur West End
  • 1939 Fort William Columbus Club
  • 1940 Port Arthur Juniors
  • 1941 Port Arthur Juniors
  • 1942 Fort William Hurricane-Rangers
  • 1943 Fort William Hurricane-Rangers
  • 1944 Port Arthur Flyers
  • 1945 Port Arthur West End Bruins
  • 1946 Port Arthur Flyers
  • 1947 Fort William Columbus Club
  • 1948 Port Arthur West End Bruins
  • 1949 Port Arthur West End Bruins
  • 1950 Port Arthur West End Bruins
  • 1951 Port Arthur West End Bruins
  • 1952 Fort William Hurricanes
  • 1953 Fort William Columbus Canadiens
  • 1954 Fort William Columbus Canadiens
  • 1955 Fort William Canadiens
  • 1956 Port Arthur North Stars
  • 1957 Fort William Canadiens
  • 1958 Fort William Canadiens
  • 1959 Fort William Canadiens
  • 1960 Fort William Hurricanes
  • 1961 Fort William Canadiens
  • 1962 Port Arthur North Stars
  • 1963 Fort William Canadiens
  • 1964 Fort William Canadiens
  • 1965 Port Arthur North Stars
  • 1966 Fort William Canadiens
  • 1967 Port Arthur Marrs
  • 1968 Fort William Westfort Hurricanes
  • 1969 Fort William Westfort Hurricanes
  • 1970 Fort William Westfort Hurricanes

Tier II Junior A

  • 1971 Thunder Bay Marrs
  • 1972 Thunder Bay Vulcans
  • 1973 St. Paul Jr. Stars
  • 1974 Thunder Bay Hurricanes* (Rejoined league in playoffs)
  • 1975 Thunder Bay Case Eagles
  • 1976 Thunder Bay Case Eagles
  • 1977 Thunder Bay Case Eagles
  • 1978 Degagne Hurricanes
  • 1979 Thunder Bay North Stars
  • 1980 Thunder Bay North Stars

National PlaydownsEdit

Memorial CupEdit

National Champions.

Champions

1922: - Fort William War Veterans defeated Regina Pats (SJHL) 8-goals-to-7 in 2 games
1948: - Port Arthur West End Bruins defeated Barrie Flyers (OHA) 4-games-to-none

Finalists

1927: - Owen Sound Greys (OHA) defeated Port Arthur West End 2-games-to-none
1967: - Toronto Marlboros (OHA) defeated Port Arthur Marrs 4-games-to-1

George Richardson Memorial TrophyEdit

Eastern Canadian Champions.

Champions

1922: - Fort William War Veterans defeated Toronto Aura Lee (OHA) 5-3 sudden-death

Finalists

1924: - Owen Sound Greys (OHA) defeated Kenora Thistles 15-goals-to-12 in 2 games
1926: - Kingston Giants (OHA) defeated Fort William Juniors 5-goals-to-4 in 2 games

Abbott CupEdit

Western Canadian Champions.

Champions

1927: - Port Arthur West End defeated Regina Pats (SJHL) 5-goals-to-3 in 2 games
1948: - Port Arthur West End Bruins defeated Lethbridge Native Sons (SAJHL) 4-games-to-3
1967: - Port Arthur Marrs defeated New Westminster Royals (OMJHL) 4-games-to-1

Finalists

1921: - Winnipeg Falcons (MJHL) defeated Fort William YMCA 20-goals-to-7 in 2 games
1923: - University of Manitoba (MJHL) defeated Fort William Cubs 9-goals-to-4 in 2 games
1925: - Regina Pats (SJHL) defeated Fort William Juniors 7-goals-to-4 in 2 games
1928: - Regina Pats (SJHL) defeated Kenora Thistles 11-goals-to-4 in 2 games
1934: - Edmonton Athletic Club (EJHL) defeated Port Arthur West End 11-goals-to-3 in 2 games
1944: - Trail Smoke Eaters (KJHL) defeated Port Arthur Flyers 3-games-to-none
1950: - Regina Pats (WCJHL) defeated Port Arthur West End Bruins 4-games-to-1
1952: - Regina Pats (WCJHL) defeated Fort William Columbus Canadiens 4-games-to-2
1954: - Edmonton Oil Kings (WCJHL) defeated Fort William Columbus Canadiens 4-games-to-1
1956: - Regina Pats (WCJHL) defeated Port Arthur North Stars 4-games-to-3
1957: - Flin Flon Bombers (SJHL) defeated Fort William Candiens 4-games-to-none
1970: - Weyburn Red Wings (SJHL) defeated Fort William Westfort Hurricanes 4-games-to-2

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit

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