Strait Pirate Hockey History
There was no organized hockey at any level in western Cape Breton prior to the building of the Port Hawkesbury arena which started in 1963. In 1964 a group headed by the late Tiger Mackie got together to organize the establishment of a Junior Hockey Team. Other members of this group were Father Marsh, the Parish Priest in Mulgrave, Ed MacDougall, Eldon Carruthers, Lennie MacDonald, Art Cluett and all employees of Nova Scotia Pulp. The team they created was named the Strait Pirates who were accepted into the Cape Breton Junior Hockey League in the fall of 1964. The league also included Sydney, Glace Bay, North Sydney and Xavier Junior College.
The Pirates consisted of players from Chapel Island, St. Peter’s, Port Hood, Port Hawkesbury and Antigonish. As there was no ice available in the rink until it was cold enough to make natural ice the team played a reduced schedule of games with the majority of games being played away. That first team did not win a single game and unfortunately did not make the playoffs.
The 1965-66 season was much more successful for the team. The Executive recruited players from Antigonish which included players such as “Jack the cat” George Williams, Wendel Schurman, the Cameron Brothers and John Kelly. They also were able to use players who were attending St.F.X namely Greg McSween and Cotter McGillivray. These men along with the Trenholms and John MacDonald from Port Hood and Dave Carruthers from Port Hawkesbury improved the team tremendously. The Pirates played again in the Cape Breton League and went to the Finals losing to North Sydney in Game 7.
In 1966-67 the Team Executive which included Billy Joe MacLean, Jim Coady, Roddie MacDonald, Art Cluett and Jim Robinson hired Phil Dagelish as Coach and recruited actively from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, PEI, NFLD and Quebec. Adding these new faces to the mix made for a very strong team. This strength resulted in the Strait Pirates being kicked out of the league for the season as most other teams could not compete. This unfortunate circumstance proved to be fruitful for the Pirates as they played many exhibition games throughout that winter against Senior and Intermediate Teams, strong junior teams and even St. F.X varsity. In the playoffs that year the Pirates defeated Glace Bay for the Cape Breton Championship; Windsor, for the Nova Scotia Championship; St. John New Brunswick, for the Maritime Championship and Newfoundland, for the Atlantic Championship. Not a bad season for a team that got kicked out the league. Phil Dalegish stayed on as Coach for one more season and although the team was not as strong it was still successful.
51 years later the team continues. A Junior Hockey Club that is providing a brand of hockey surpassed by none. The 2013-14 and the 2014-15 seasons were considered to be rebuilding years finishing third each year in our division. As the longest continuous running Junior B franchise in Canada our dedicated executive and coaching staff continue to strive to put a successful and entertaining team on the ice for our fans. We look forward to the 2015-16 season and hope our fans will enjoy watching our games as much as we enjoy playing them.