It has been 60 years, and even through a virtual world, a sense of joy and raw emotion could be felt. Memories, laughter, and proud storytelling filled the virtual room.
St. Michael’s College School (SMCS) alumni, friends, and hockey enthusiasts gathered on Thursday, April 1, 2021, for the most recent version of the popular Alumni Information Series, this one with a twist.
Members gathered virtually in a celebration of both the St. Michael’s Majors and Buzzers winning league championships in the same year. The accomplishment has only happened two other times (1933-34 and 1944-45) in the school’s storied hockey history.
The jam-packed event was more than just an opportunity to remember and celebrate the 60th anniversary of both hockey championships. It also provided a virtual venue for a long-overdue reunion for so many connected to this special year.
Hosted by Steve Paikin, TVO anchor and host of ‘The Agenda’, who kicked off the event with interviews with members and special guests associated with the 1961 Buzzers and Majors teams.
“It was a magical night that featured numerous Majors/Buzzers highlighted by the giddy joy of connecting with former teammates and mentors such as Hugh McDougall, OSM,” reflects Larry Colle ’69, a member of the evening’s organizing committee. “The event underlined the players' enduring connection to St. Michael's College School over six decades.”
The 90-minute interview portion of the evening included appearances from Dave Keon ‘60, OSM, Ed Sandford ’49, the Majors: Dave Draper ’60, Barry MacKenzie ’63, Andre Champagne ’62, Terry O’Malley ’60, E.J. Bauer, representing Fr. Bauer ’44, CSB, and the Buzzers: Kevin Burkett ’62, and Bill Crawford ’61.
The players shared their memories of their SMCS and hockey careers as viewers were shown clips of film and photos of the panel during the history-making season.
“Congratulations. The evening was truly memorable with Steve Paikin, Dave Keon, Gary Smith ’61, Gerry Cheevers ’59 et al, all at their best and all so happy to be part of it and the rest of us able to share,” says Burkett. “For me, many happy memories were refreshed and old friends revisited. Every alumni initiative should strive to emulate.”
Over a two-hour Zoom reunion, viewers joined the panel to ask questions. One viewer had the opportunity to confirm if a pair of skates received by Fr. Bauer were actually owned and worn by Keon – they were not! Gerry Cheevers called in to participate in the reunion and committee members surprised him with Forbes Kennedy. In 1969, the pair had an epic on-ice altercation during the first game of the quarter-final series between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Boston Bruins. After a few jokes, both confirmed they have remained good friends. Family members of Joe Primeau ’48 and Red Kelly ’46, OSM tuned in and shared their SMCS memories on behalf of their departed relatives.
“The evening with the 1960-61 Majors and Buzzers was an amazing experience for all who participated. The regaling of stories from their time as SMCS boarders and teammates were so interesting to hear,” shares Kimberley Bailey, Director of Advancement. “These stories are so very important as they represent the history of the school. We are very fortunate that we are able to record these sessions for archival purposes”.
The highlighted interview and reunion can be viewed here: