by Jim Harris
On 25 October 2014 a small, but very proud, contingent from the original 3 Field Squadron hockey team made their way onto the red carpet among cheering crowds at Prospera ice arena in Chilliwack. It seemed like the same crowds that cheered them in the 60s had followed them - and many of us did - with the same enthusiasm that had been preserved through the ages. We were in awe then, and the admiration and love for our cherished hockey players from those days has endured. They had raised the unit moral every time they stepped on the ice. We were then - and still are - so very proud of their achievement, their skills, courage and hard, hard work.
Induction into the Chilliwack Sports Hall of Fame after all these years, 1968 – 2014. WOW! It made my eyes leak a little and, looking around, I wasn’t alone.
The boys are showing their age now and, sadly, most have passed away - but not their memories. ‘Boots’ lives on, with his side-to-side, fast, elusive style … he could have made the NHL. Try to hit him and, there he was - gone. John Helie, quick thinker and hockey-minded who could see potential plays before anyone. Max, with his shorts down below his knees, his bulldog-like tenacity and lightning-fast feet. Brother Don representing Bob Fiddler reminded us of his booming shot echoing through the building and his awesome size and quiet, impressive, leadership. Gus Collins …with his firm but friendly managing style. Player coach, no-nonsense Doug “Smokey” Grossart….and Butch Goodey, trainer. The spirit of Wayne Jones was also there - dashing and daring, awesome accuracy, quick release, and a booming shot……There were so many others, John Adams, Sid Dunning - we remember.
If they had made a movie it would rival the 1977 movie “Slap Shot”. 3 Field Squadron , a minor unit with just 250 personnel from whom to choose was the underdog and not expected to even reach the nationals. They were up against major units with a thousand or more in numbers – a very steep hill to climb. They were told so many times they were unlikely to reach the pinnacle. But each time they quietly smiled and went about their business. They were all leaders, they had the confidence, that swagger and an army of supporters here in Chilliwack who were bursting with pride. In 1968, against all odds, 3 Field Squadron raised the trophy as National Canadian Armed Forces Champions – made Sappers Everywhere so very proud. CHIMO!
Photo Credits: Lori Johnson and Jim Harris