Berwick Graves Oldtimers Hockey Team
In the late 1960s, Berwick native Phil Nixon returned to the area from Florida, where he had been living, and became the driving force behind the formation of the Berwick Graves Oldtimers hockey team.
Despite living in Florida, which in those days wasn’t a real hotbed of hockey interest, Phil had never lost his love for the game. On his return to Berwick, he began playing hockey in what was called at the time the ‘Sunday morning hangover league’.
Wishing to play a bit more competitively, he decided to form an Oldtimers team. He recruited a number of fellow workers from M.W. Graves and added some other interested players from the local area, and got M.W. Graves to sponsor the team.
After a few practices together, Phil identified some potential opponents, and the squad began playing against other Oldtimers teams in the area, including an R.C.M.P. team and a team of Acadia professors, as well as squads from Middleton and Bedford.
These games proved popular and successful, and led to the formation of a Valley Oldtimers league the following year.
As the years passed, some players dropped out and new players were added, but most of the original nucleus of the Graves Oldtimers remained active with the team.
The Oldtimers played many exhibition games and tournaments over the years, in places such as Bedford, Summerside and as far away as Bar Harbour, Maine.
The players they played against included Forbes Kennedy and Howie Meeker, both former NHLers, and the late former Acadia stalwart Connie MacNeil.
The proceeds from their many tournaments were donated to worthy local charities like the Beehive Adult Service Centre in Aylesford.
One write-up in the Berwick Register – penned by Hall of Famer Stuart E. Johnstone – recounted a trip to Maine, which included games played against a local team as well as a visit to the well-known Stacey’s Country Jamboree.
The write-up noted the Graves Oldtimers had defeated Bar Harbour by a “resounding” 9-1 score, with George Fredericks, Cecil Sherman and Al Hale “scoring most of the goals.”
Nova Scotia souvenirs and M.W. Graves products were distributed during the team’s stay at Stacey’s Motor Inn. Harley Moody and Al Hale represented the team at a taping of Stacey’s Country Jamboree.
The Graves Oldtimers represented Berwick and area for close to 15 years. They were always fine ambassadors for our area, and from all accounts, had lots of fun doing it.
Team members, many of whom played for several years, included Bob Haines, Levi Sherman, Phil Nixon, Cecil Sherman, Bob Salsman, Al Hale, George Moody, Harley Moody, George Fredericks, Fred Clarke, Manny Lewis, Alan Amero, Alex Sellers, Wayne Amirault, John MacLellan, Gerry Carty, Paul Bethune, Ed Shynal, John Prall, and Rick Pineo. Stuart E. Johnstone was coach and Randy Holmesdale the team manager.
Most good teams are measured by the games or championships they win, but in Old-timers hockey, it’s more about fun, dedication to your team, and the lasting friendships you are able to make over the years.
The Berwick Sports Hall of Fame is pleased to induct, in the team category, the Berwick Graves Oldtimers.