Back in Time: Going from a skating club to the Bombers

When you talk about hockey in Flin Flon, the main name that comes up is Bobby Clarke, but this isn’t about the legendary Philadelphia Flyer. This history piece is about the hockey world that sprang up in the early years of Flin Flon, which would influence many players over the years including Clarke.

In fact, the strong hockey system in the community would produce several NHL hockey players. These players would go on to win four Memorial Cups, five Stanley Cups, three Hart Trophies and a Bill Masterton trophy.

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Organized hockey began in Flin Flon in 1927 with the formation of the Flin Flon Skating Club. A team was chosen to compete for the honour of being the best in the north and Tom Creighton, a local prospector, was made manager. B.B. Snydel would serve as trainer and the Flin Flon Hockey Club was born.

The team would find immediate success, winning the Ross Hockey Shield in 1927-28. The team was captained by Gordon Duncan. The team would play off and on for the next few years, but irregular practices and playing times would lead to its disbandment in 1931.

Not wanting to be without hockey in the community, two teams were formed in Flin Flon, the Elks and the Community Club teams. One year later, in November of 1932, the Canadian Legion team was formed, followed by a fourth team that December. This resulted in the creation of the Freedman Cup and some very lively competition between the teams.

Several senior players would play for the Flin Flon Kopper Kings, who would compete in the Northland Hockey Association and win the championship in 1932-33. In November 1934, the junior hockey club executive met and decided to form a new team for the 1934-35 senior league. The team would be called the Eskimos and Bill Hughes would serve as president of the team. The team would play in the A Division of the Hockey Association League.

One thing to keep in mind is that during these years, there was no enclosed hockey rink to be used for regular hockey games. That thankfully changed with the construction of the Main Arena at this time. To coincide with this, the Flin Flon Flyers were created, and they played a series against Swan River to initiate the opening of the new arena.

In 1935, a new all-star club with players from the new three-team league, consisting of the Elks, Mine and Surface teams, was organized to begin playing in the next season. A competition was held to name the team, with Bombers being selected as the new name. The team would begin its life by playing several games throughout Saskatchewan and finding immediate success by winning the Manitoba Senior Championship. The club then tried to win the Allan Cup. Under the tutelage of Odie Lowe, the team would win the Saskatchewan Senior Hockey Championship in 1938.

Due to the Second World War, there was no Bomber team for two years until 1947 when senior hockey began again. In 1949, the team joined the North Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, which became the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League in 1951. From 1952 to 1954, the team would win three league championships in a row.

The team would win the Memorial Cup in 1956-57, followed by two more league championships in 1958-59 and 1959-60. Several NHLers would play for the team, including Reggie Leach and Bobby Clarke.

Suggestions for columns or questions? E-mail Craig at crwbaird@gmail.com. Listen to his podcast by searching for “Canadian History Ehx” on your podcast platform. Find his show on YouTube by searching for “Canadian History Ehx”.

Information for this column comes from Flin Flon (1974) and Wikipedia.

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