1966-1967 Berwick Shell Juniors
A decade after the 1956-1957 Berwick Apple Kings were crowned provincial and Maritime Junior champions, a Berwick Junior team once again rose to provincial prominence.
Much had changed in 10 years: the Apple Kings' era had ended, but a new era had emerged, spawned by the introduction of artificial ice.
Don Stewart, with the sponsorship of Sawlor Fuels, started a junior program. Stewart was also instrumental in the formation of the Metro-Valley Junior 'B' Hockey League, but Berwick opted not to join the league.
Dubbed the Shell Juniors, the team consisted primarily of local boys, with the addition of a few players from a bit further afield. Among those eager to play were Mike and Phil Kinsman, Rod Dorey, Bruce Redden, Barry Ling, Charlie Reeves, Dwight Bishop, Dale Lloyd, Richard Palmer and Bobby Wilson.
A few more talented players were needed to bolster their lineup, so Jim Cochrane, Brian 'Smiley' MacPherson, Carl Parks and Steve Rayworth came from Kentville, Gary Darling from Greenwood and goaltender Brian Murray from Centreville-Canning.
The group jelled instantly, and along with head coach Laurie Jordan of Kentville and assistant Gary Whittier of Berwick, they were ready for the season.
The Shell Juniors were a hit with the fans from the start, filling the Berwick Arena every Saturday night playing against other junior teams, some senior teams and Universite Sainte-Anne.
The juniors had a solid nucleus of performers, and called on local midget players to fill out the lineup when required. According to the Berwick Register, the squad “played an exciting brand of hockey, combining fast skating, lots of goals and a rough-and-tumble style of play.”
Berwick fans were treated to many entertaining matches, including an 8-2 win over Windsor Royals, 8-6 over South Shore All-Stars, 11-1 over the Wolfville Colonials Intermediate 'B' team, and 8-4 over the Halifax Colonels, the 'B' team of the Halifax Junior 'A' Canadiens.
As an independent team, Berwick had the opportunity to meet the winner of the newly-formed Metro-Valley Junior 'B' league for the Nova Scotia championship.
The series was finally set to begin Mar. 18-19 in Berwick and continue Mar. 22-23 at the Halifax Forum. The opposition would be the Halifax Colonels, who had the advantage of moving players up and down from the Junior 'A' ranks and were installed as heavy favorites.
In front of a record crowd at the Berwick Arena, the local boys sent game one into overtime with a goal midway through the third period, but Halifax scored six minutes into extra time to win 8-7. Game two was just as close, but Halifax was able to build a 4-2 lead and hold on for a 4-3 victory.
The series shifted to Halifax, and in what Jack Conrad of the Chronicle-Herald described as “a penalty-studded game” that the officials “had a busy time controlling,” Berwick jumped out to a lead in the second period and skated to a 7-4 win.
Game four, again at the Forum, was an ugly contest. Not only did Halifax win 9-2, Berwick's top scorer Rod Dorey suffered a nasty cut to the arm that required 38 stitches, sidelining him for the rest of the series.
Game five was a must-win for the locals at the Berwick Arena, and they did not disappoint their many fans, playing “brilliantly” in a 5-3 victory. With their back to the wall, they returned to Halifax for game six. After a seesaw first period, the game was tied 3-3. Halifax then scored three goals in three minutes in the second period and held on for a 6-3 win and the provincial title.
Despite really being a 'David and Goliath' match-up , it turned out to be an entertaining series that many observers felt might have been even closer had Berwick's big man Rod Dorey not been injured. The following year, Berwick joined the Metro-Valley league and continued to ice a competitive team.
The Berwick Sports Hall of Fame is pleased to induct, in the team category, the Berwick Shell Juniors, worthy provincial runners-up in an outstanding 1966-1967 season.
Berwick Shell Juniors 1966-1967
Head Coach: Laurie Jordan
Assistant Coach: Gary Whittier
Inducted June 2011