Catch You On The Rebound
Who was the first individual to play on back-to-back U Sports men’s hockey national championship teams?
Answer: Rod Hyde.
Yes, the same Rod Hyde who was the principal at Fort McKay School from 1980 – 2006.
Hyde was an integral part of the McMaster University Marlins when they captured the inaugural University Cup (now known as the David Johnston University Cup) in 1962-1963.
“I went to McMaster on the advice of one of my high school teachers who had graduated from there,” recalls Hyde, 78, a native of Georgetown, Ontario.
During his first year at the Hamilton-based university, Hyde would play Junior Hockey in nearby Brampton.
Lacing up the skates for the Marlins the next three years, Hyde would wear the letter C on his sweater for the 1962-1963 campaign.
“It was pretty special,” recalls Hyde, of being named captain. “There were some pretty good hockey players on that team, so it was a great honour.”
The 1962-1963 finals were held March 16, 1863 in Kingston, Ontario.
“The finals were held in Kingston because they claimed to be the birth place of hockey at the time,” recalls Hyde, the Marlins needing overtime to defeat St. Francis Xavier 4-3 in the University Cup semi-finals. “The Thunderbirds were coached by Father David Bauer, who was starting to put together the Canadian Olympic hockey team. He had the nucleus of what would be our future (1964) Olympic team on that Thunderbirds team.
“We had not lost a game against Canadian opposition all year (14 games), although we had tied a couple of games. We had lost to some American universities in exhibition play though.”
The Marlins would outshoot the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds 37-23 for a 3-2 championship victory.
“In those days you went to university to go to school. There was no (Canadian) scholarships, so everyone was a walk-on player. None of us were recruited.
“A bunch of us showed up at the same time and everything clicked. We had a good goalie in Jim Cannon and Bill Mahoney, who had played some pro hockey (Clinton Comets and Hull-Ottawa Canadiens) and would go on to be head coach of the Minnesota North Stars (1983-1985).”
Graduating from McMaster, Hyde, a diminutive but dynamic defenseman at 5-foot-8, would head west to upgrade his studies at the University of Alberta.
Skating for the U of A Bears, Hyde would return to Kingston for the 1963-1964 University Cup tournament.
The Bears would defeat Sir George Williams Georgians 9-1 for the title.
“We whomped them,” said Hyde. “We had struggled all year to score goals and in that last game we could not miss.”
“At U. of A. there was nobody that was an outstanding player. It was strictly a team effort. We had a very good solid team and everybody contributed to it.”
Hyde adds that both of his university coaches left lasting impressions.
“Clare Drake (Bears) pulled together a bunch of hockey players and made us into a real team. Les Prince (Marlins) was the probably the greatest motivator I had ever met. He wasn’t terribly versed in hockey but a fantastic motivator.”
Arriving to teach at Fort McKay in 1975, Hyde would spend countless hours coaching local youth.
“When we first started, we were playing on an outdoor rink,” recalls Hyde, who still resides in Fort McMurray. “We had to scramble to get hockey equipment for everyone. To raise funds we showed movies, old reel-to-reels back then, on a Sunday night at the school gym and charged admission.
“To see what they have out there now is phenomenal.”
Hyde has been honoured with various distinctions, including Syncrude’s Rod Hyde Education Award and an annual Rod Hyde Men’s Hockey Tournament in Fort McKay.