50 years ago at the Kimberley Civic Centre

Famed Nitro Line lights up alumni game


It was 50 years ago this Sunday that the Nitro Line of the Kimberley Dynamiters regaled us for the last time, before a sold out crowd of 2,652 at the Kimberley Civic Centre. The date was December 22, 1969.

Ken “Cowboy ” McTeer centered the Nitro Line between Walter Peacosh and Les Lilley. All three were perennial leading scorers in the Western International Hockey League, averaging over 120 points per season.

Their line was “Poetry In Motion ” as sports columnist Garnet Bannantyne used to say. Les Lilley had a long professional hockey career before returning to his home town of Kimberley. Walter Peacosh had played high level hockey too, beginning with the Flin Flon Bombers, before moving on the Western Hockey League and the Vancouver Canucks (playing on a line with Bernie Bathgate, Andy’s older brother). Then the Trail Smoke Eaters came calling. Result, a gold medal for Canada at the 1961 World Hockey Championships. The second star of the gold medal game was Walt “Mex” Peacosh.

Cowboy McTeer was an amazing centre, who selflessly dished the puck off to his line mates. Truthfully, no one on the Nitro Line was above the other in ability.

All three members of the Nitro Kine have now passed away, the most recent being Ken McTeer. Walt Peacosh and Les Lilley preceded Cowboy, as did Dickie Vincent who replaced Lilley when he retired. ON TO THE EXCITING GAME

Danny Spring certainly did not disappoint the fans who came out to see him. Young Spring was drafted in the first Round by the Chicago Black Hawks later that year. He scored 4 goals after riding the Grey Hound Bus all day from Edmonton. Young Spring arrived shortly before game time, as his Dad Frank Spring Sr. hurriedly dried his son’s frozen hockey gear in the Kimberley Laundry. Mr Spring was a Senior Hockey President of the Cranbrook Royals, bringing them to town in 1965.

All three Spring brothers were excellent players. Frank Jr. played in the N.H.L. The youngest son, Derek, played Collegiate hockey at Michigan Tech and the University of Calgary Dinos.

The game itself was a very entertaining affair, with the Dynamiter Alumni roaring off to a big lead. Les Lilley lit up the UBC ThunderBird goalie Rod Silver for six goals. His linemates Peacosh and McTeer also scored.

Dynamiter Alumni Goaltender Danny Sullivan was stupendous between the pipes, stopping 32 shots out of 33, before giving way to the late Alan Fabro of Gonzaga U in the 3rd period. Danny Spring actually scored all of his goals in the third period, after he “warmed up ” from the bus trip.

The 50 Year Dynamiter Alumni still have some players living locally. Jimmy ” The Jet ” Broadhurst, Michael Jones, and myself played on the same line. We were not scored upon that night — I am still proud about that. John “Shot Gun” Stone, who was the Trainer for the Kimberley Dynamiters, came out and lent his services for the game, which was sponsored by the Canadian Cancer Society.

Stoney was told by our Coach, Frank “Sully” Sullivan to avoid the rough stuff. I actually was sitting on the bench when John got “the word” from Sully Senior.

The only disappointment that was Bob “Nizer” James, captain of the Gonzaga University hockey team and the Collegiate League’s leading scorer, was unable to play due to a badly sprained ankle. Bob is currently on R and R at the Cranbrook Hospital. Get well, Nize. Certainly would have loved to see Nizer James go up against Danny Spring. Both were cenrtes. Nizer was big and very clever with the puck. Lest we forget, Rheo Touzin, Barry “Ginger” Craig, Tiger Bill Steenson, Ken White and Elmer Pelto all performed admirably for the Dynamiter Alumni after being off of the skates for a while.

The first star of the game, chosen by Wally Souter of the Dynamiters, was Les Lilley, second Star Danny “Sully” Sullivan, goalie for the Dynamiter Alumni, and third Star was Merv Swaney of the U B C Thunder Birds.

It is hard to believe 50 years have sped by since we last saw McTeer, Peacosh and Lilley perform their magic on the Kimberley Civic Centre ice. Terrific hockey players and terrific fellows.

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