Sports with Mike Townes

Many years ago when I played goal for a team in Elmvale Minor Hockey, Johnny Bower was our guest speaker at the season-ending hockey banquet. I think the year was around 1963 but I could be out a year or two. As a goalie, I was very interested in his talk to us. I cannot remember it very well, but I can recall he was very funny and talked to us at our level. After, Bower signed a picture for every player and some parents before he left. I don’t think I still have the photo but if someone out there still has it, I sure would like to have a look.

Johnny William Kiszkan was born November 8, 1924 in Price Albert, Saskatchewan. When Johnny parents divorced in 1946, he started using his mother’s maiden name, Bower, and in his first professional season he legally changed his name to Bower because it was easier for the newspapers to spell than Kiszkan.

Bower played 11 seasons with the Cleveland Barons in the American Hockey League before playing his first NHL game with the New York Rangers in 1953 at the age of 29 and he played all 70 games. He won the job over Gump Worsley but Worsley won the job back the next season so Bower was sent back to the AHL for another three seasons.

Punch Imlach knew about Bower and when he got the job with the Leafs, Imlach claimed Bower in the inter-league draft in 1958. Johnny had to be convinced by Imlach to play with the Leafs and this started an 11-year run with the blue and white. In his 11 seasons, Bower won the Stanley Cup four times and retired with a 2.51 goals against average.  He also holds the record for the most wins in goal in the American Hockey League while winning three Calder Cups.

Bower was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1976 and was also voted 87th of the best NHL players in the 100 years of the league. Johnny Bower received many awards, but to me he will always be remembered for his time with us at our Minor Hockey banquet.

The World Junior Hockey Championships were held in Buffalo.  Canada won for the 17th time. They last won the championship in 2015. Canada has won 31 medals (9 silver, 5 bronze) in the 42 official years of the tournament. Russia leads with 35 medals (13 gold, 12 silver and 10 bronze).

The game with Sweden was not easy. I think the Swedes out-played Canada but the Canadians proved that grit can win when the money is on the table.

Dave Drinkill, general manager of the Ontario Hockey League Saginaw Spirit, has his team on their way to the playoffs this season. After a 63-point season in 2016-17, the Spirit is all but assured a playoff spot this season. They are 21-14-3-0 so far. They are 6th in the Western Conference with 45 points and 13 points ahead of the 9th place Erie Otters. In their last 10 games, the Spirit are 7-3-0-0. Best of luck to Dave and Saginaw for the rest of the season.

The Elmvale Curling Club will be hosting their annual Global Controls Group Cashspiel starting Thursday night, January 25th with one draw at 7:30 pm. Friday night starting at 7:00 pm, two draws will be played. Starting Saturday at 8:00 am, all 12 teams will play two games during the day to reduce the field to 8 teams for play starting at 9:00 am on Sunday. Prize money will total $8,000.00. Drop down and check out the action during the weekend.

The Baseball Hall of Fame will announce the 2018 inductees on January 24. Chipper Jones, Jim Thome, Vladimir Guerrero and Edgar Martinez all have a great chance getting the 75% of the votes needed to be elected. Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds are moving up in the vote as the voters seem to feel the duo have suffered enough and are ready to forgive. Maybe not this year, but I can see them maybe making it in 2019 and, if not, 2020 for sure. Trevor Hoffman, Mike Mussina and Curt Schilling are also going to be close. Larry Walker is still being penalized for playing most of his career in Colorado but hopefully he can move up in the voting this year.

The Toronto Blue Jays have traded for Yangervis Solarte who can play third base. Is Josh Donaldson now on the trading block for sure? Stay tuned.