Tuesday, September 22, 2015

1942/43 Toronto RCAF Flyers

Above is a fantastic photo from the City of Toronto Archives showing the Toronto RCAF Flyers celebrating a victory. They were a war-time team of mostly professional players who were enlisted in the Canadian military during World War II. The Flyers played in the Ontario Hockey Association Senior circuit for two seasons. The problem with the photo is that none of the players are identified. Thanks to the Society for International Hockey Research database, I have attempted to put names to as many of these men as possible.

Using simple visual recognition of the database photos side-by-side with the above photo, I have managed to name the following fairly confidently. 

First Row, Left to Right:
Norm McAtee, Johnny McCreedy, Lloyd Gronsdahl, Duke Scodellaro (Goalie), Murray Henderson, Unknown, Joe Primeau

Norm McAtee is certainly the first player on the bottom left, he won back-to-back Memorial Cups with the Oshawa Generals scoring the winning goal in 1939. He would play 13 NHL games for the Boston Bruins in 46/47 and was elected to the Oshawa Sports Hall of Fame in 1990. The second player is definitely Johnny McCreedy who had played the previous season in the NHL with the Maple Leafs scoring 15 goals in 47 games helping to win a Stanley Cup. With the RCAF Flyers in 42/43 he tallied 22 points over 12 games. McCreedy was stationed overseas the entire following year and returned to help the Leafs win another Cup in 44/45. I'm fairly sure the third guy from left is Lloyd Gronsdahl who had played 10 games the previous year with the Bruins, his only NHL stint. 

The goaltender pictured fourth from left on the bottom is Dulio 'Duke' Scodellaro. He helped backstop the Trail Smoke Eaters to the World Championship (along with McCreedy) in 1939. He allowed no goals in the four games he played during the tournament. After the war, Scodellaro returned to play with the Smokies until retiring in 1952. Beside him may very well be Murray Henderson, the big defender who would go on to play seven solid seasons with the Bruins. Beside him is another unidentified player with his fist in the air celebrating. Last one on the bottom row is ex-Maple Leaf great Joe Primeau who's brother Jim was the coach of the Flyers. This makes sense as he is the only player not in hockey gear that is also not in miltary garb. This was the only coaching stint of Jim's career, Joe would go on to coach the junior and senior Toronto Marlies in 1945 and eventually the Leafs. He would lead these squads to Memorial, Allan and Stanley Cup victories.

Second Row, Left to Right:
Wally Wilson, unknown
There are two guys jammed between the front front and back rows, the one on the left is Wally Wilson. He was a teammate of McAtee on the championship Oshawa Genrals squads and led the 42/43 Flyers with 25 points in 10 games. Wilson would play one season in the NHL with Bruins, collecting 19 points in 53 games. The guy directly beside Wilson wearing the beret is also unidentified. 

Third Row, Left to Right:
Unknown, Unknown, Ralph Wycherley, Pat McReavy, Unknown, Ernie Dickens, Unknown, Norm Tustin

The first two guys in military wear are unidentified. The third from left is very likely Ralph Wycherley who had played parts of the previous two seasons in the NHL with the New York/Brooklyn Americans. Partially obscured beside him is likely Pat McReavy who had the most NHL experience on the squad at the time. He had played parts of the last four years with Boston and Detroit. He won a World Championship Gold with the Sudbury Wolves in 1938 and retired after a 1951 Allan Cup win with Owen Sound. Next in the beret is also unidentified, beside him is Ernie Dickens. He played 10 games with the Maple Leafs in 41/42 and played 13 playoff games helping to win the Stanley Cup. After the war he played most of five seasons with Toronto and Chicago. Of the last two guys on the right, the first is unidentified and the last one is Norm Tustin who played 18 games for the New York Rangers in 41/42. 

The RCAF Flyers won eight of twelve games during the 1942/43 OHA season, one point behind Toronto HMCS York. They beat St. Catherines Saints two games to one in the quarter finals before beating Toronto Army in two straight. The scores in these two games were 7-6 and 11-1 in the clincher. They met Toronto HMCS York in the OHA Final losing the first game before winning the championship with three straight wins. The photo above is likely from the final game on March 15, 1943 which the Flyers won 8-5 at Maple Leaf Gardens.

The Flyers went on to the Eastern Canada Allan Cup playoffs, getting past Sudbury in three straight games before meeting the Ottawa Commandos in the Semis. After losses of 6-4 and 12-0, the Flyers won game three 8-1 before losing the series in game four by a score of 5-2 on April 5. The Commandos went on to beat Ottawa RCAF to advance to the Allan Cup. They won the Allan Cup over Victoria Army led by NHLers Alex Shibicky, Ken Reardon, Neil and Mac Coville and 'Sugar' Jim Henry in goal.


Chris said...

My wife's grandfather was Johnny McCreedy and I found a hockey puck with all of the names of the 1942 Allan Cup Team! Perhaps you can identify the "unknown" players in the photo.

Nitzy said...

Hi Chris, Would love to see a scan of that signed puck. I can probably help identify some names.

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