Kimberley hockey history

Dynamiter Barry 'Ginger' Craig, hardrock defenceman

Barry Craig.

ANTHONY DRANSFELD

 

Ask any Old Timer about Barry ” Ginger ” Craig, the hardrock Kimberley Dynamiter (Senior A) defenceman who patrolled the blueline for the Nitros from 1953  to 1961, coming to Kimberley from Junior hockey in the Crowsnest (Bellevue Coalers).

Even by today’s standards Barr,y  or Ginger as most people called him, was a big defenceman, who was a smooth skater and very adept at the art of the hip check, but Ginger could  certainly clear out traffic in front of the Dynamiter net too. “Ginger” also played up on the forward line when called upon.

We brought Barry Craig out to play in a charity hockey game at Christmas of 1969. Actually Bill Steenson recruited his old team mate “Ginger” to play for us, teaming up with Tiger Bill on the D Line.  Our Coach Frank “Sully” Sullivan played ” Steener  and  Ginger Craig  most of the third period.

The Junior A College team was coming at us and our goalie Alan “Fabby” Fabro in waves. Bill rushed the puck quite a bit that night  while Barry Craig stayed home and took care of the back end. Craig had not been on skates for a good while.

Seeing an old pro at work (like Ginger) was neat, pretty smooth out there, for an old guy and very cool under fire.

Ginger Craig was very fortunate in 2001  when he met June  while golfing. June and Barry have been a duo ever since wintering in Nevada near Las Vegas.

They both love  the links and split their time between Marysville and Nevada. June is originally from Detroit (with three children of her own) and is a big Red Wings and Detroit Tigers fan.

Ginger Craig played with some excellent hockey players here in Kimberley, Sully Sullivan (Sr.) Gerry Barre, Earl Betker, Billy Hryciuk, Sammy Calles Sr, Ray McNiven  Sandy Sanderson and Les Lilley, when they competed for the Allan Cup  (Amateur Hockey Supremacy in Canada).

As Stoney said to me recently  Ginger Craig was a big hitter, but a clean player, never using his stick in his job as a physical defenceman for the Kimberley Dynamiters, he always played a  good game on the road too, particularly in Spokane Washington where they appreciated the big redhead.

Back in the day Barry Craig was a big D man who skated well and shot the puck with unerring accuracy. To quote John ” Stoney” Stone,’ Ginger Craig never used his hockey stick as a weapon, hit very hard but cleanly, and was a good enough skater that Harry Brown , and subsequent coaches would put Craig up on the forward line where he acquitted himself very well.

One thing for sure about ” Ginger” you knew you were getting a great effort each and every night. He was an old school hockey player, coming to Kimberley when they still had the old rink and natural ice. If you came to town and Cominco gave you a job before the start of the Dynamiter training camp, chances are you were a pretty good player.

Personally I saw many forlorn hockey players with their hockey bag and suitcase waiting for the evening Greyhound to take them back to wherever they came from. Barry Craig never had to go back to Wetaskiwin, Alberta on the bus.

With size and skating ability Barry ‘ Ginger ” Craig was an integral part of the Kimberley Senior A Dynamiters for many years, teaming up with Gordon Andrea on the blueline. He stuck around Kimberley after his hockey retirement, where he worked in the Surveyors Department until his retirement, and then began a career building houses with Stevie Vandermatten. “Ginger went to Referee School in Winnipeg back in the day, and then began to officiate in the Western International Hockey League, first as a linesman, and then as a referee.  Barry met his wife Myra Beattie here in Kimberley. She was the sister of ” Tick ” Beattie, a solid Kimberley Dynamiter hockey player.  Ginger and Myra have three  children, Neil, Debbie and Kelli. Actually Barry has three grandchildren Tyler, Shannon and Henry, and is a Great Grandad too ( Alexis). Sadly, Myra passed away 10 years ago. Barry Craig will be 80 years young on October 27, and is one of most popular hockey players to come through here, because of his excellent play and ever present smile.

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