Plaque for the Sudbury Cub Wolves

Plaque for the Sudbury Cub Wolves, Junior Champions 1934-5, 1935

Within Sudbury, sporting events were one of the most important activities to keep citizens entertained and engaged in community life. Curling and hockey were the two favourite sports enjoyed by its residents from the late 19th century until today. The first hockey rink was built in 1892. It was quite rustic and did not have artificial ice. The big curling club was constructed in 1902. Sudbury had to wait until 1954 to get a professional hockey arena. Before that time, most of the games were played on the local pond. Also, the community children relied on backyard rinks such as the one at George Moses' house to play hockey. Mitchell Spiegel recalls playing hockey in the 1950s with buffalo chips left over from the horses pulling the milk carts. Most of the great players at this time came from the north and some of the members of the Jewish community excelled at this sport and competed at the junior and professional levels.

  • Hockey and Buffalo Chips
    Hockey and Buffalo Chips

    Mitchell Speigel describes playing hockey as a boy in Sudbury during the 1950s.

    Interview with Mitchell Speigel, 15 August, 2007, Sharon Gubbay Helfer. OJA, Oral History #347

    Click here to watch the video

Two Jewish players that truly stood out were Joe Ironstone and Sam Rothschild. Both started playing for local teams and ended up making it to the NHL. Sam Rothschild was the first Jew in Canada to play with the NHL. He was recruited by the Montreal Maroons in 1924. He received a $1000 signing bonus and his two year contract was set at $3500 a year. In 1926, his team won the Stanley Cup, and the following year he was traded to the New York Americans. Unfortunately, Sam suffered a knee injury in 1927, which ultimately ended his hockey career. Joe Ironstone, in turn, trained with the Ottawa Senators in 1924, and briefly played with the New York Americans the following year. In 1927, he was asked to play with the Maple Leafs for one game after their goalie became ill. After asking for double the going salary for that one game, Conn Smythe offered Ironstone the job, but told him that that would be the last game he ever played with the NHL.

Another citizen who was very involved in hockey was Max Silverman. He started his career as a waterboy for the Sudbury senior hockey team. After working his way through the ranks, he eventually became the coach of the Sudbury Wolves in 1932, which became Sudbury's junior team. Together with Sam Rothschild, who served as the coach, the two recruited the best players and won the Memorial Cup that year. They later competed in Europe at international competitions, where they won the international world championship title. Both men became local heroes because of their contribution to the game of hockey.