Monday, November 12, 2018

Willie O'Ree Rare Photos

With today being the day Willie O'Ree is inducted into the Builders wing of the Hockey Hall of Fame, it's a good time to share a couple rare photos of the trailblazing player. These are from the collection of our friends at Vintage Sports Images .
The first photo shows O'Ree with the Boston Bruins in what has to be the 1960/61 campaign as bespectacled Al Arbour is with Chicago. O'Ree had played two games with Boston in 57/58, but this was his only full season (mostly) in the NHL, playing 43 games and tallying 14 points. Behind O'Ree is big Bill Hay and of course in net is Mr. Goalie, Glenn Hall.
This next photo shows O'Ree later in his playing career with the San Diego Gulls of the Western Hockey League. Willie starred for for the Gulls from 1967/68 to 1973/74. To narrow down the timeframe on this photo we look at the other players in the picture. Using the SIHR photo database it is determined that the Gull on the left side is Bruce Carmichael who was a Western League star for fifteen seasons. His only season with San Diego was 1968/69 in which he notched 26 goals in 74 games. 
The middle Gull congratulating O'Ree on an apparent goal scored is Alex Faulkner, the first Newfoundlander to play in the NHL. He played one game with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1960/61 then 100 games with the Red Wings the next two seasons. 1968/69 was Faulkner's second with San Diego and he tallied 67 points in 71 games. As for O'Ree, that season he collected 38 goals and 79 points in 70 games finishing fifth in the WHL in goals.
The opponent for the Gulls on this night was the Portland Buckaroos, #12 Mike Donaldson with his back to the camera and peaking out from behind Faulkner is the legendary Connie "Mad Dog" Madigan. 
Willie O'Ree would produce over 700 points in the high minor leagues before initially retiring in 1974. He played a few more years of senior hockey in San Diego and even came back to score a point-per-game with the San Diego Hawks of the Pacific Hockey League in 78/79 at the age of 43.

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