There was little to suggest in the fall of 2001 that the upcoming season for boys' hockey at West Kings would be anything other than another winning campaign. By the time all was said and done, a special group of boys had teamed up to produce one of the truly memorable seasons in the history of hockey at the Auburn school.
The Wolverines went undefeated in league play, were victorious in three different tournaments and advanced to the semifinals at provincials before being defeated by a deep and talented Millwood squad that went on to capture the provincial banner.
West Kings traditionally draws its students from Berwick west to the County line. It was not unusual to have a handful of Berwick boys on the school's teams each year, but in this case, the lion's share of the players had played their minor hockey in Berwick. “It was one of those rare times when everything comes together,” recalls team manager Hazen Trueman. “They were a special group of young athletes who also won three straight provincial titles in soccer and one in rugby during their high school years.”
West Kings, with John Verran and Steve Keddy as coaches, Trueman the manager and Jim Brothers as trainer, had it all – strong goaltending, a solid defense and four lines of good two-way players, equally capable of scoring and backchecking.
After winning the Gator Classic at Central Kings, the Wolverines entered the Fred Kelly tournament in Wolfville just after Christmas looking to win for a third straight year. West Kings met Sackville in the final, and Luke Verran's goal at 11:25 of the second overtime gave the Wolverines a 3-2 win. Next was the City of Lakes tournament in Dartmouth. Advancing to the final against Riverview from Cape Breton, the defending champion Wolverines waltzed to a 4-0 victory. A number of parents commented it was “this team's finest game.”
A highlight of the season was a trip to St. John's, NL to play in the 28-team Confederation Cup tournament. West Kings won four of its five games, and came home with a $1,000 scholarship awarded to the most sportsmanlike and competitive team.
The Wolverines went through the regular season in the Valley High School Hockey League with a record of 21 wins and one tie in 22 games. Five players ended up in the top-10 in the league in scoring; the goalies surrendered barely a goal a game. West Kings punched its ticket for Division 1 provincials with 6-0 and 4-1 wins over Yarmouth in a two-game total goal series for the regional title.
At provincials, West Kings met five-time defending champion Kings-Edgehill, which had played in the Capital Region all season, in the quarterfinals. Coach Keddy “calmed the troops” as the game went to overtime, and the Wolverines responded, winning 3-2 on Ben Rose's goal at 14:26 of the second extra session.
In the semifinals, West Kings, with several players suffering from the 'flu, grabbed a three-goal lead over Millwood, only to see the Knights tie the score 5-5 with 4:40 remaining, then net the game-winner 30 seconds later, ending what had been one of the most exciting and successful seasons ever for West Kings.
The Berwick Sports Hall of Fame is pleased to induct, in the team category, the 2001-2002 West Kings Wolverines hockey team.
2001-2002 West Kings Wolverines Hockey:
Kirk Verran, Matt Wright, Luke Verran, Scott McBean, Peter Morse, David Trueman, Ian Morse 'A', Ben Rose 'A', Chris Boylan, Jay Dorey, Ian Currie, James Allen, Ryan Barkhouse 'C', Cody Bower, Ryan Brothers, Ryan Morse, Roddy Easson, Mark Robinson 'A', Kyle Hicks, Steve Arsenault, Jeff Peach, Andrew MacDonald, Chris Meanie, Coach John Verran, Coach Steve Keddy, Manager Hazen Trueman, Trainer Jim Brothers.
Players from Berwick area in bold
Inducted June 2012
Carol Hampsey started curling “too many years ago to remember,” she says – but when pressed, suggests it was probably in 1965 or 1966, at the Berwick Curling Club.
She began her competitive curling career throwing first stones for a team skipped by Betty Adams. “In later years,” she says, “I usually played the mate position, as I didn't really like skipping.” This, she points out, “was left to Elaine Prall or whoever else would have me on their team.”
While the Berwick teams Hampsey was a part of did well in Western Counties and provincial playdowns, many of the Berwick senior curlers didn't have the time she had to devote to the sport. When she got a call from Yvonne Martin of Coldbrook asking her to compete in the Nova Scotia senior championships, Hampsey agreed – and the rest, as they say, is history.
In 2002, Martin, Hampsey, Donna MacKinnon and Allison Weagle teamed up to win the Nova Scotia seniors, and competed at the Canadian championships in St. Thomas, ON. Team Martin, she recalls, “made a fair showing” at nationals – “big stuff for a little old curler from Berwick, NS” – but the truth was, she and Martin were just getting started. Hampsey continued to curl with Martin in competition, while also curling recreationally out of Berwick.
In 2003, Martin, Hampsey, Sandy Walker and Allison Weagle teamed up to win another provincial senior title, and again competed at nationals, this time in Lethbridge, AB. That same year, Martin also entered a team in the provincial Masters (60-and-over) competition, and with Carol Romkey, Hampsey and Donna MacKinnon, captured that championship as well - for Martin and Hampsey, two titles in the same year!
Advancing to nationals in Assiniboine, SK, Hampsey unfortunately fell on the ice during a game and broke her wrist, forcing her to miss the remainder of the competition.
In 2004, Martin, Hampsey, Gwen Merriam and Barb Marsland entered the provincial senior playdowns and won again - Hampsey's third straight provincial senior title. The 2004 nationals were in Kelowna, BC, “and though we didn't win, it was a great privilege to meet curlers from across Canada competing at all these championships.” Martin remembers Hampsey as the ultimate teammate. “She mated for me at many provincial tournaments and at four national championships,” she says. “She was always a 'skip's delight' to have on your team.”
Many curlers, she points out, “tend to blame the broom being in the wrong place when they miss, but Carol was the exception. “As soon as she released her rock, she would yell 'inside' or 'outside' to let the sweepers know whether to sweep or not, even if she was only off by an inch. This is a quality very seldom found in most curlers, and I appreciated it very much. “She also had a deadly takeout, and got us out of plenty of touchy situations.” Hampsey, Martin points out, “was always the same, no matter where we travelled in this wonderful country. Her demeanour never changed, even when she broke her wrist and needed surgery two and a half hours away from where we were curling.”
Today, Hampsey continues to curl recreationally, but not competitively. As she points out, “we all get old far too quickly.”
The Berwick Sports Hall of Fame is pleased to induct, in the Athlete category, Carol Hampsey.
Inducted June 2012
Allison Stanley (Al) Hale was born in Berwick August 5th, 1941, the son of the late Allison and Phyllis Hale, of Cambridge. Brought up in Cambridge, Al spent his younger years playing sports locally with other young boys in this area.
His first foray into organized sports was playing Pony League Baseball in Kentville at the age of 16. His first attempt at organized hockey was to attend the very first hockey school in Canada (held in Kentville in 1959). That same year, Dr. Ron Thorpe, a well-known local Doctor and sports enthusiast, formed a Fastball team in Cambridge called the Tigers. Al became the first baseman on this team.
The Tigers featured local players such as John Durno, Mike Francis, Howie Mintis, Ron Reeves and Lawrence Johnstone, as well as Berwick natives Levi Sherman, Garnie Parker, Manny Lewis and many others. The team played in the Valley Fastball League, against strong teams from Berwick, Greenwood, Cornwallis, and Kentville.
In 1960 the Tigers entered the Provincial Intermediate 'C' playoffs, and eventually captured both the provincial and Maritime titles. A September, 1960 write-up in the Berwick Register, penned by Hall of Famer Stuart Johnstone, reported Al's towering grand slam home run deep to right field that sent the Tigers on their way to victory in the Nova Scotia championships.
In 1964, the Cambridge squad (now playing under the name Red and Whites), again won the Maritime Intermediate 'C' crown after beating a team from Sydney 8-5 and 4-1 to claim the Nova Scotia title.
Joining the Berwick Alpines in 1970, Al was still a formidable force on the field, finishing second in the batting race with a sparkling .378 average.
His former teammates recall Al as a great team player, always with a positive attitude and always helping fellow teammates whenever he had a chance. Al always hit in the four, or five position, because he was such a great clutch hitter. Dale Lloyd, a former teammate and fellow Cambridge resident, says, “Al Hale is just simply the best clutch hitter I have ever seen!”
Al was also an excellent hockey player. He played for the Coldbrook Aces in the 1960s, on a team that won several Valley League Championships. In later years Al finished his Hockey career in the Berwick Suburban League, winning several league championships there as well.
Al played oldtimers Hockey for the noted Berwick Graves Oldtimers, one of the first real oldtimers teams in Nova Scotia, for almost 10 years.
Al is remembered as a tremendously talented athlete, a quiet but confident leader, and a teammate that inspired the rest of his mates to play their hardest, and compete at their highest level possible.
The Berwick Sports Hall of Fame is pleased to induct, in the athlete category, Al Hale.
Inducted June 2012
Clinton Joseph (Joe) Gillis was fun to watch – a fan favorite in every arena he played in. A wry smile, a wink or maybe a little dry wit, combined with raw talent – skill, size, speed and strength. No one played with more spirit and sportsmanship than Joe Gillis.
Almost from the start, Joe showed all the qualities that could have made him a successful professional hockey player. He had the knack of being able to anticipate where the puck was going, and he was so strong and sturdy on his feet, you couldn't get his stick off the ice.
One of Joe's strengths was his ability to instantly break into full speed. A “complete” player with natural scoring talent, he was dangerous on a regular shift and especially killing penalties. Bruce Beattie, Joe's longtime friend and teammate, says “his greatest asset was his capability to give his team a 'lift' – both on and off the ice.” His many multi-goal and multi-assist games resulted in numerous scoring titles. Art Newton, Joe's Junior Coach in 1969, suggested, “he was the best junior hockey player in Nova Scotia at the time.”
Playing for the Valley midget Flyers during the 1967 season, Joe's scoring and playmaking prowess helped his team to the Nova Scotia championship and a berth in the Centennial Cup in Kingston, Ontario, with a number of NHL scouts in attendance. Two years with the Berwick Juniors followed, and Joe continued to be one of his team's top scorers. In one 1969 game, a 15-1 thrashing of Shannon Park, Joe had four goals.
Eventually, Joe was offered a tryout by the NHL's New York Islanders. He attended the Islanders' training camp, and was assigned to Tulsa of the Central Hockey League. A highlight of his training camp experience was facing Islanders' defenseman Denis Potvin, who would end up in the Hockey Hall of Fame. Joe will tell you, “he beat me once, and I beat him once.”
As good a hockey player as he was, Joe was a darned good fastball player, too, playing for a number of teams including the Berwick Eassons and Waterville Mohawks. Those who watched him play, or played with or against him, say he could hit a home run or drop a “perfect bunt” as well as play any position. He was a career .300 hitter, and once, topped .400 for the season playing for Waterville.
His wife's ill health and the responsibilities of a young family forced Joe to end his pursuit of a pro career. All who ever watched him play were certain he had the ability to make it to the highest level, had the circumstances been different.
The Berwick Sports Hall of Fame is pleased to induct, in the Athlete category, Joe Gillis.
Inducted June 2012