by The Nelson Daily Sports on Wednesday December 02 2020
Mallard's Source for sports is focusing this edition of Team of the Week on the 1954 Nelson Senior Maple Leafs, which finished atop of the Western International Hockey League.
The Leafs edged out Kimberley Dynamiters for the top price in the four-team league by a single point.
The WIHL was senior hockey league featuring teams from the Western United States and Western Canada.
The league operated from 1946–62 and 1963–88, growing from the West Kootenay League, which operated in southeast British Columbia from the 1920s.
The league had teams in southeastern BC cities of Trail Smoke Eaters, Nelson Maple Leafs, Kimberley Dynamiters, Rossland Warriors, Fernie, and Cranbrook Royals as well as Spokane, Washington; Calgary, AB; Portland, Oregon; and Los Angeles, CA.
The league did not operate in 1962–63 while member team the Trail Smoke Eaters competed for and won the world amateur championship overseas.
At various times in the 1950s and 1960s the league had an interlocking schedule with the Okanagan Senior League and the Alberta Senior Hockey League.
The WIHL teams competed for the league championship Savage Cup, with the winner advancing to meet teams from Alberta to Manitoba in the Patton Cup and eastern Canada in the Allan Cup, emblematic of Senior Hockey supremacy.
Even until the 1980s, the caliber of play was excellent and many former top CHL, junior A, university and pro level players went on to compete for WIHL teams. The WIHL champions would be considered one of the top non-professional teams in North America each year.
Nelson finished the season ahead of the Nitros with a 23-26-2 record.
The team included Lee Hyssop, Herb Lovett, Red McCarthy, Marlow McDonald, Don Appleton, Manager Vern Eckstrom, Trainer Bob McDonald, Marty Burton, Buck Jones, Ernie Gare, Bruno Pasquallato, Mickey Maglio, stickboy Lloyd Ailsby. Eric Patterson, Red Koehle, Jimmy Lowe, Willy Schmidt, Fritz Koehle, Bill Haldane and Boomer Rodziniac.