During the 1930’s when Senior hockey reigned supreme, attracted the greatest athletes, and was the biggest draw in town in amateur sports, the accomplishments of the 1936 – 37 Berwick Bruins Hockey team rates as great achievement for a small Nova Scotia town.
In an era when Senior hockey teams only dressed ten or so players, the exploits of the Berwick ten against centers which could recruit from a much greater player pool and offer more incentives to play, were all the more remarkable. Of the ten Berwick regulars, six were from the Annapolis Valley area – three from Kentville, one from Waterville, one from Middleton, and the dashing Orlay Bligh from Berwick. The other players came from outside Nova Scotia but as was the practice of the time worked at regular jobs in the Berwick area during the hockey season. Two reserve players – Glen Dakin and Bernie LeBlanc – were Berwick residents.
After winning the regular season, Berwick first met the Middleton Maple Leafs in the championship of the Central Valley League. Despite losing the first game 4 – 1, Berwick made a sensational comeback to win the two game total goal championship by a 7 – 6 score. Following a victory over the South Shore winners, Bridgewater, the Bruins next met the Halifax Sunocos for the Western Nova Scotia Championship. The opening game of this series was moved to Kentville because of its greater seating capacity and special trains were arranged to take fans from Berwick to Kentville. Berwick greatly outplayed the Halifax squad in the first game winning 5 – 2 and then before a crowd of more than 200 at the Halifax Forum clinched the series with a 5 – 3 victory. The Bruin team was described in the Halifax newspapers as “swashbuckling and rugged” with great team speed.
Following the Halifax win, the Bruins next faced the two-time defending of speed and rugged play, the Bruins outclassed the defending champions winning both games and claiming the Nova Scotia Senior provincial championship for 1936 – 37 in the Antigonish home arena. The Berwick team next squared off against the Moncton Maroons for the Maritime championship and a berth in the Allan Cup. Moncton won the first game, played in Kentville before a standing room only crowd, 2 – 1, on a goal scored with only a second remaining on the clock. The Bruins greatest season ended on March 16, 1937 in Moncton, when, despite playing an outstanding game and holding the host team to a 1 – 1 tie, they lost the Maritime championship by 3 – 2 total goal score.
Members of the 1936 – 37 Berwick Bruins Senior Hockey Team
Goal: Wee Willie Kyte
Defense: Charlie Silliker, George Warden
Forwards: Orlay Bligh, Ralph Boyle, Bill Foster, Sonny Keith,
Walter Lawlor, Buzz Saarinen, Jimmie White
Reserves: Glen Dakin, Bernie LeBlanc
Inducted June 1999