In just their third year of existence, the Petes knocked off two powerhouses to earn the right to represent Eastern Canada at the Memorial Cup.
The Petes rallied from a 6-2 deficit to beat the St. Michael’s Majors 8-7 during the Ontario Hockey Association final.
Peterborough then met the powerful Ottawa-Hull Junior Canadiens in the Eastern Canadian final. After trailing 5-1 in the eight point series, Wayne Connelly scored eight goals in the next three games, and 10 in the seven-game series, to lift the Petes to victory.
The Petes were off to Winnipeg to meet the Braves in a best-of-seven series.
The Petes, like the Canadiens, were an affiliate of the National Hockey League’s Montreal Canadiens.
“They were supposed to be the stronger team. When we beat them out, to us, that was our big accomplishment right there. To beat the other Montreal Canadiens team,” said Connelly.
Pat Casey, who later became a member of the Petes executive and the club’s president, was a member of the original Petes’ team and recalls how far they came in three years.
“Sam Pollock had said give this team three years and you’ll have a real contender because we were all young guys,” said Casey.
Both Casey and Connelly’s memories of the Memorial Cup have as much to do with what went on around it than of the games themselves.
“We took the train from Toronto to Winnipeg and it was two days before we got there,” Casey said. “All we did was eat on the train especially the ice cream they had. We were off the ice for three days and it seemed like we were just getting back into shape again. You lose your timing and that. We played at the Winnipeg Arena a nice new big rink which held 12,000 to 13,000 people.”
While the Braves, led by Ted Green and Gary Bergman, didn’t look like much, they could play.
“The Winnipeg Braves had orange and black uniforms and holes in their socks. They were the worst looking team we’d seen all year,” said Casey, “but they were a strong team.”
Peterborough won game one 5-4 before dropping four straight to lose the series. Connelly said it was almost anticlimactic.
“We lost a couple of key players which really hurt us but it was an unbelievable experience to go as far as we did,” Connelly said. “We were a brand new team. To make it as far as we did in three years, we were pretty proud of that.”
The Braves eighth Memorial Cup title proved to be the last by a Manitoba team.