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The Sydney Millionaires — a name familiar to many Cape Breton hockey fans.
From playing the Quebec Bulldogs for the Stanley Cup in 1913 to winning various Cape Breton and Maritime titles at the senior and major levels, the Millionaires legacy will forever be remembered on the island.
Among their various titles, the Millionaires won three consecutive Cape Breton and Maritime titles from 1948-50.
Flashback 70 years to February 1950 as Sydney prepared to defend its titles.
After finishing first overall in the three-team Cape Breton Senior Hockey League with a 38-27-11 record, the Millionaires, led by Sydney products Cliff Roach (28 goals and 70 points) and Duncan MacIntyre (26 goals and 58 points) as well as Cape Bretoner by choice Bruce Gallagher (21 goals and 50 points), secured a bye into the league final.
The team awaited the winner of the semifinal series between the second-place North Sydney Victorias (34-36-6) and third-place Glace Bay Miners (30-37-9).
North Sydney entered the series as favourites led by points leader Kent Storey (27 goals and 92 points in 70 games) as well as Don Menzies, who had finished the regular season with 45 goals and 77 points in 37 contests.
Meanwhile, Glace Bay relied on Connie Brown (31 goals and 78 points) and Bob Dennison (25 goals and 55 points).
On the back of strong defence and goaltending by Jack (Dusty) Rhodes, the Miners surprised the Victorias, eliminating the North Sydney club in five games and limiting the team to only 17 goals.
With much hype surrounding the Millionaires and Miners championship series, the longtime rivals would open the league final on March 9 with Sydney edging the Miners 4-3 on home ice.
The Miners would tie the series with a win the following day in Glace Bay, before Sydney took a commanding 3-1 lead with 6-5 and 3-2 victories on March 11 and March 13 respectively, setting the stage for a Game 5 win, 9-3, to advance to the Maritime final.
In the Maritime championship, Sydney took on Halifax St. Mary's, a team that played in the Maritime Senior Hockey League with the Saint John Beavers, Moncton Hawks and Amherst Ramblers.
Halifax finished the regular season tied for first place with Saint John, however, the St. Mary's would be given the top spot having secured one more win than the Beavers.
As Sydney waited for its opponent, Halifax was in a battle with Saint John in the Maritime league championship, a series which eventually saw the St. Mary's defeat the Beavers in seven games.
Entering the series, Halifax was led by a pair of hometown boys in team leader Alan (Rocky) Sullivan with 31 goals and 92 points in 67 games, and Bill Hannon with 37 goals and 84 points in 66 games.
The series opened with two games in Halifax, beginning on March 20. Sydney won the opener 9-4, before dropping Game 2 by an 8-6 score with the series shifting to Cape Breton for Games 3, 4 and 5.
The loss in Game 2 set a fire under the Erwin Chamberlain-coached Millionaires. The club returned to the comforts of Sydney and won the next three games, 6-1, 7-3, and 6-3, capturing the Maritime title in five games.
Sydney went on to represent the Maritimes in the Eastern Canada Allan Cup playoffs, which featured the Sherbrooke Saints of Quebec, Cornwall Calumets of Ottawa, Toronto Marlboros of Ontario, and the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds of Northern Ontario.
The Millionaires would be matched up against the Saints in the best-of-seven semifinal.
Sherbrooke had several former NHLers suited up including Cliff Goupille (Montreal), Guy Labrie (Boston and New York) and Eddie Bush (Detroit) along with future professionals in Ray Barry (Boston), Reggie Sinclair (New York and Detroit) as well as Ivan Irwin (Montreal and New York).
The series kicked off on April 1 with the first three games in Cape Breton. Sydney held its own against the Saints, but unfortunately never picked up a win, losing the series 4-0 with 4-2, 4-2, 5-3 and 5-0 decisions.
Sherbrooke went on to lose the final in six games to Toronto, a club that would win the Allan Cup in five games over the Calgary Stampeders.
Amid a global pandemic that has caused much pain, our memories and history must not be forgotten. Taking time to celebrate achievements can only give us hope for future success stories as we battle through COVID-19 and get back to normal.
The Sydney Millionaires legacy will forever be etched in history, the question now — who will leave a legacy for the next 70 years in Cape Breton?
Jeremy Fraser covers sports for the Cape Breton Post. He welcomes column ideas, sports story suggestions or feedback about this week’s Sports Chat.
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