Saturday night (Sept. 7) the Greater Hamilton communities of Ancaster and Stoney Creek will be bound together by 91 years of hockey history when Ancaster resident Leo Reise, Jr. drops the ceremonial puck to launch the Ancaster Avalanche’s inaugural season in the Greater Ontario Junior B Hockey League.
When Reise drops the puck between the Avs and the visiting Buffalo Blades, surrounded by young and old, and players from Ancaster Minor Hockey it will mark the return of the Ontario Hockey Association’s Junior B division to the town after a 20-year absence.
Reise, the long-time resident of Ancaster, played nine seasons in the National Hockey League with the Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings, and New York Rangers. Along the way, he won two Stanley Cups with the Wings (1950, 1952).
How does that link Ancaster and Stoney Creek? Reise, whose father, Leo Sr., hailed from Pembroke, played for the NHL Hamilton Tigers (1921-24). That was just long enough for his son to be born in Stoney Creek in 1922, the locale where the Avs previously played as the Warriors.
Leo’s father went on to play for the New York Americans and the Rangers as well as the Saskatoon Crescents of the West Coast Hockey League.
Saturday truly will be Hockey Night In Ancaster when the Avalanche open regular season play against the Buffalo Blades in the Morgan Firestone Arena at 7:30 p.m.
Several promotions for the evening include free Ancaster Avalanche schedule posters for the first 500 fans in attendance, and the opportunity for a fan to win transportation, dinner for four, and four tickets to a select Hamilton Bulldogs game.
The Avs will play each of the other eight teams in the Golden Horseshoe Conference three times throughout their 24-game home schedule leading up to the playoffs and a run for the Captain James T. Sutherland Cup.
The league consists of the Buffalo Blades, Caledonia Pro Fit Corvairs, Fort Erie Meteors, Niagara Falls Canucks, Port Colborne Pirates, St. Catharines Falcons, Thorold Blackhawks, Welland Junior Canadians, and Ancaster.