For Harold (Red) Conrad, 90, watching the Halifax Mooseheads play at the Memorial Cup is bringing back memories of when he suited up for the Halifax St. Mary's Juniors and played in the national tournament in 1947 and 1948.
In those days, the Memorial Cup played out over several weekends with regional games in different cities across the country.
Conrad remembers one of the rinks they played on in Ottawa took some getting used to.
"It was an egg-shaped rink, you'd come around the net and bang, you were into the boards," said Conrad, who was among the more than 10,000 fans attending the Mooseheads game against Rouyn-Noranda on Wednesday.
"They beat us in the first game up there and we had to wait about five days to play them again and we beat them quite handily the second time."
According to the Nova Scotia Sports Hall of Fame's website, the Saint Mary's Juniors represented the Saint Mary's Winter Gardens, not the university. The team was inducted into the organization's hall of fame in 2002.
Conrad's teams always had trouble when they played teams from Montreal, losing to the Montreal Junior Canadiens in 1947 and to the Montreal Nationales a year later, according to the website.
One of Conrad's teammates with Halifax, Bert Hirschfeld, later joined the Montreal Royals and helped them win a championship in 1949.
"The Royals won the Memorial Cup by beating Brandon," said Conrad. "Bert scored a hat trick in the final game to win the Memorial Cup for them."
Conrad became a firefighter
Hirschfeld went on to a pro hockey career and he and Conrad became firefighters in Halifax.
Conrad is the last living member of those Halifax junior teams and he said the game has changed in so many ways. He said the Mooseheads, who will play in the championship game Sunday night, have a good chance to win it.
"I think it's really the crowd behind them that helps," said Conrad. "They have a terrific team, a lot of little guys, but they can really skate."
A small player himself when he played, Conrad was known for his speed and gritty play.
Thoughts on the modern game
The one thing that bothers him about the game of hockey today is the hitting from behind.
"You can take a guy and cross-check him in the back four or five times, I find that strange and I don't like it at all," said Conrad, a Montreal Canadiens fan who is picking the Boston Bruins to win the Stanley Cup.
When asked how he would handle being hit in the back repeatedly, Conrad didn't mince his words.
"I think we would come to fisticuffs," he said.
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