Galt Hornets 1965/66 The Third Year in Review
The Hornets nest was a busy hive of activity throughout the summer as the team prepared for season number three. The executive even went through a re-organization as John Pinchin, who served as team treasurer for the first two seasons, was elected as new team president replacing Horace Bardwell. A notable addition to the executive was that of Gord Renwick. He would play a very prominent role in the team's success over the next seven seasons.
The team announced that Earl Balfour was named as the team's new playing coach. Changes throughout the league as well the Welland club would not ice a team for the upcoming season. However a team from Kingston was approved September 10th to join the league. The team known as the Aces played a partial schedule of 28 games. The catch was 20 of those games would be four pointers. They would also have to pay each team $600.00 to make three trips to Kingston. Windsor also applied to join the re-join the league after a year hiatus but their bid was rejected. Galt actually indicated that they would drop out of the league if Windsor's application was approved. Thankfully for all of us the bid was rejected.
With seven players not returning there were many new faces at training camp. Some notable signings were ex. pro Gary Collins, goalie Ron Boomer who played last season in Oakville and two players from the Welland team, Fern Belanger and Bob Maxwell. The Hornets took a while to get it together loosing four of their first five games. The first meeting with the Kingston Aces wasn't a game to remember. The bench was very short that night. The team planned to fly in six regulars but bad weather prevented that from happening. In a weird twist, both goalies, Ron Boomer and Lynn Zimmerman were unable to make the game so the Hornets had use Kingston's backup goalie. The final score was Kingston 7 Galt 1. Bad news continued as the season progressed with Ron Smith leaving the team to play college hockey for the University of Waterloo. The Hornets would continue the unusual style of play throughout much of the year.
Some things never change however like the Galt Guelph rivalry which at times was a goaltending clinic by Harold "Boat" Hurley, who at 35 was described by Carl Fletcher in one of his columns, "Boat Hurley is like vintage wine. Both get better with age." Usual tension between the two teams would get out of hand at times and Regals tough guy Keith Worrall appeared ready to take on the Galt fans as a melee in a game in December. In another incident in mid December, Hornet forward Gary Collins took a two hander across the face from Woodstock's Ted Power. Power received a slap on the wrists, a choice of five game suspension or 2 games and a $50.00 fine. The A's chose the latter and this infuriated Hornets manager Wes Lillie. "It's ridiculous, there are two sets of rules in this league, one for us and one for the other teams," he said. Lillie continued saying the league had sent out a letter to all the teams stating they were cracking down on such incidences. Reg Whaley never had the option when he was suspended last season. Despite a strong protest from the hornets, the verdict stood and wasn't changed.
The Hornets continued to stumble through December and into January but there were some bright spots. Forward Carl Hatt, a Galt native, played well and his hard work usually went un-noticed seemingly because he would consistently make it look so easy and thoroughly did the job, game in and game out. Goalie Lynn Zimmerman stole some games but with the lack of consistent defense, he could only do so much. Forwards Earl Balfour and Joe Hogan played consistent all season, but for the first time in their brief history, the supporting cast was not as prominent as in the past. "We couldn't win a big game all season", said Coach Balfour. In the final week of the season, it was certain that the Hornets would finish in last place, so the only thing left was Joe Hogan's pursuit of the scoring championship. Going into the final game in Guelph, Hogan trailed Jack Price of Oakville by one point. With nothing else on the line, Hogan played an incredible 41 minutes of the game. In the end Hogan's hard work paid off as he had a goal and an assist to take the Eccelstone trophy as league scoring champ. And so capped a very disappointing season, one of very few the Hornets to endure in their long history. With many holes to fill, the Hornets would have a lot of hard work to do over the summer months to regain the the form they showed over the first two seasons.
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