History (Ajax Minor Hockey Association)

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On the Bench Hockey in Ajax - The beginnings of the AMHA


Excerpt taken verbatim from “A Town Called Ajax” 1995 ISBN 0-9699465-0-3

 


It’s early on a Sunday morning, Boys all over Ajax board a bus headed for Stouffville. At 6:00 a.m. they’re in the arena, 75 to 100 of them, to play hockey. That is how Ajax Minor Hockey started. The population of Ajax was about eight thousand and there was no local arena. It wasn’t until 1965 that Ajax had its first indoor hockey arena.

The Ajax Hockey Association was started in 1959 under the direction of President Dick Freeman and his Executive Committee of : Dennis Anthony, Don Crumb, Gord Dick, Len Kirby, Jim Lamby, Colin Mackie, Chuck McCarthy, Art Rennick and Ralph Spadafore. The Association received a grant of $1,200 from the Ajax Recreation Committee and $200 from the Lions Club.

There were four teams initially: Peewee, Midget, Bantam and Juvenile. All four were registered with the Ontario Minor Hockey Association. The first year was a financial burden to the association and they looked to local industry and other sponsors for financial help in the next year. The Committee decided to charge a $2 registration fee.

In the following year one hundred, sixty-five youngsters registered. There were four Peewee teams, three Bantam and three Midget teams in the House League. As well they had a Bantam All-Star OMHA team, a Midget All-star team and a Juvenile All-Star team. The operating budget for the House League Division was $4,200 and that of the OMHA All-star teams was $1,427. Some of the cost was recovered by collecting fifty cents a game from each player, but the deficit that year was $2,500.

One of the highlights of the early years of the association was the success of the Ajax Midget Team which progressed to the Ontario Finals in 1962, but lost to a team from Wallaceburg. Under the direction of Coach Ralph Spadafore and Manager Gerry Rose, the following members were part of that team. Alex Barnett, Jim Chorney, Bruce Dobie, Billie Finnigan, Mickey Flyn, Jack Fowler, Jackie Jamison, Len Kirby, Len Kursorko, Bob Marshall, Jim McGivern, George Meek, Avard Northrup, Danny O’Shea, Eric Peterson, Ron Rancier, Robert Stevenson, David Thomas and Gerry Watson. In 1967 Danny O’Shea played for the Canadian National Team in the World Hockey Championships. He was drafted by the Oshawa Generals and progressed to the NHL as a forward with the Minnesota North Stars. Danny’s younger brother, Kevin, also played in the NHL.

Ajax Minor Hockey grew over the years and became very successful, with the Association hosting an annual tournament involving teams from across Canada and from the United States. In the late 1960’s and early 1970’s the Ajax Hockey Association sponsored teams in the All Ontario Junior C League and in the Provincial Junior A Hockey League. Ajax still sponsors a team in the provincial junior A Hockey League.

In the 1990’s Ajax minor Hockey flourishes with more than fifteen hundred kids between the ages of five and seventeen. There are house League teams and Representative teams that play Triple A, Double A and Single A throughout the Province, as well as Select teams from the House League that compete with teams from other local towns. The annual operating budget exceeds $300,000, which is a far cry from the first operating budget of around $2,000.

The Ajax Old Boys Hockey Club was founded in 1979 by twelve players of the Ajax Oldtimers house League. They play at arenas in Ajax and Pickering. Membership has almost tripled during the fifteen years since the Club was started.

Several of the players had played minor hockey in Pickering or Ajax during their youth and had been playing in the house League on Sunday nights for several years. They wanted a more competitive brand of hockey. One of the members was Dan Sullivan, who had played professionally in the Chicago Black Hawks organization.

This was the first tournament team from Ajax to travel out of town on a regular basis and to participate in other organized Oldtimer Tournaments around Ontario. Fundraising events held by the team have benefited various local causes.

The Ajax Old Boys have traveled to many tournaments since 1979 and have been very successful. From 1981 to 1987 they were the Canadian Old Timer hockey Association Division Champions. In 1991 they participated in the Snoopy Invitational world hockey tournament, and in 1992 they were the Division Champions.

Anyone having information that will enhance this brief description please email [email protected].

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Printed from ajaxminorhockey.com on Friday, September 21, 2018 at 4:02 AM