The Glengarry News

Char-Lan Rebels to be honoured

- ‘B’ Hockey Club was

The following is the first of five profiles of the 2016 Glengarry Sports Hall of Fame Inductees. The induction ceremony and dinner will be held August 17 at the CharLan Recreation Centre in Williamsto­wn.

The first Glengarry hockey team to become champions of the prestigiou­s and renowned Boxing Day Tournament in the Eastern Ontario Junior ‘B’ Hockey League was The Char-Lan Rebels of the 1985-1986 season.

The team which brought excitement and a strong sense of pride to Glengarry and the Eastern Ontario community of Williamsto­wn will be inducted into the Glengarry Sports Hall of Fame this year.

The Rebels racked up the W’s, capping off the season with the league championsh­ip and making for an exciting time for players and hockey fans from miles around.

The Rebels knocked off Winchester, Navan, Brockville, and finally the South Ottawa Canadians in six games. They became the first EOJBHL team from the county to score league laurels.

“Rebels Capture Junior Hockey Title” was the caption in an Ottawa newspaper.

Journalist­s explained that the Rebels, which won the first championsh­ip in the club’s seven-year history four games to one in the best of-seven final series, had a lot to prove to their fans and to themselves.

“After an early exit in their Alex English Division playoffs a year ago,” wrote journalist Peter Conway, “the Charlotten­burgh Rebels came away as winners. They had a lot to prove, and that they did.”

Coach Ken MacDonald compared the win to a previous title. “In 1974-1975 we won the divisional championsh­ip with the Alexandria Glens,” said MacDonald. “That was a great feeling winning with the Glens. The Glens were close to my heart and always will be. This win was exceptiona­l.”

The annual league Boxing Day tournament was always a good measuring stick of how a team matched up with the rest of the league, as it was divided into four groups, and teams played opponents from the opposite conference which they didn’t meet in regular league games.

The top two teams in each section (total of eight) met in a one-day tournament to give top-notch players a chance to compete with the best in the area.

Needless to say, this drew sold-out crowds passionate about hockey and their teams.

“Hockey was a big part of our lives,” noted Williamsto­wn’s John Chafee who was president of the organizati­on at the time. “We had a lot of home town boys who could really play hockey. The fans loved it.”

Chafee explained that Grade 13 was a huge benefit to the local hockey world.

“Kids stayed around to finish high school. They were good, experience­d, and they made hockey better because their enthusiasm and talent had built over the years.”

The Char-Lan Rebels Jr. born in 1979.

A group of nine men with hockey background­s pooled their resources and applied for an EOJBHL franchise. It was granted, and the team began play in the 1979-1980 season.

The object of the new franchise was to provide a higher calibre of competitio­n for the graduates of the Char-Lan Minor Hockey Associatio­n programs.

Founding members of the Rebels junior club were Stewart Fourney (previous owner of the junior ‘ C’ team), John Chafee and Earle Sandilands (founding members of the CLMHA), Leo Major (CLMHA referee), Bryan McKenzie ( former coach of Char-Lan junior ‘C’ team), local businessme­n Ian MacIntosh and Alex MacDonald, and local farmers Milton MacDonald and Alex Spink.

Later this summer, the Glengarry Sports Hall of Fame will honour the Char-Lan Junior ‘B’ Hockey Club and its founding members for their dedication to sport in the county.

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