© 2018 Michael Riis-Christianson and the Lakes District Museum Society
For a few years in the mid-1970s, the Southside had its own minor hockey team.
Four boys from Wistaria organized the Grassy Plains Cougars Hockey Club. They found a coach – school bus driver Bob Nutter – and then recruited a sponsor. The Grassy Plains Store provided $150 in seed money, which the boys used to buy a hefty supply of Toronto Maple Leaf jerseys. No one really liked the mediocre Leafs, a team that hadn’t won the Stanley Cup since 1967, but the blue-and-white uniforms were cheap and plentiful at Burns Lake Hardware & Garage.
A large roll of white felt and a stencil yielded letters and numbers that were then sewn to the jerseys by one player’s girlfriend. The volunteer seamstress did her best, but the process took time. Eventually, some team members grew impatient and decided to affix their numbers and letters with Speed Sew. The adhesive did not bond well with felt; by the end of the first game, half the players lacked numbers, and one boy found himself wearing a jersey with the words “ASS TORE” in the space usually occupied by the sponsor’s name.
The Cougars played in the Bantam division, but in reality, its players ranged in age from 11 to 16. They were led by a tall, rangy farm boy from Wistaria named Doug McGinnis. McGinnis centered the team’s top line and patterned his play after Boston Bruins great Phil Esposito. At 16, he was already six feet tall and almost impossible to move when positioned in front of the opposing team’s net.
Mike Moulton, also from Wistaria, played goal and started most games between the pipes. Of the supporting cast, he was probably the most talented. He regularly faced more than 50 shots a period – a product of the club’s poor defence – yet seldom complained.
The team practiced (when it practiced at all) on an outdoor rink behind the Grassy Plains School, and played most of its games at the Colleymount arena against a Nadina team led by Steve Reid Jr. and the Lehmann brothers.
McGinnis could score almost at will, and Moulton stopped far more shots than he let in, but the team didn’t offer them much in the way of support. The Cougars’ worst loss was a 17-0 shellacking at the hands of the Burns Lake Bantams. Moulton saw more rubber in that game than the Michelin man.
The team’s lack of on-ice success discouraged many of the younger players, most of whom eventually quit. After two seasons, organizers could no longer field a complete squad, and the club – much to the chagrin of its die-hard fans (all 10 of them) – merged with its archrival from Colleymount.