OHL Classics: The Inaugural 1965-66 London Nationals Season

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london nationals oha 1965-66 program cover
Image courtesy of hockeydb.com.

The London Knights that are current reigning Robertson Cup champions in the Ontario Hockey League had their humble beginnings as the London Nationals back in 1965-66. It was also the humble beginnings for six players that would go on to appear in the National Hockey League. The arrival of the Nationals expanded the OHA to nine teams from eight. All but London reached the post season that year. The name would change from Nationals to Knights after the 1967-68 season.

1965-66 London Nationals

London finished their 48 game schedule with just 12 wins, 29 losses and seven ties for 31 points. However, the Nats actually had a shot at the playoffs, finished just six points behind the eighth place St. Catherines Black Hawks. London had the least goals for with 149 and the most goals against with 235. Offensively, they were led by Stan Allen with 43 points in 46 games.

In the OHA, the Peterborough Petes finished first overall during the regular season. The Bobby Orr led Oshawa Generals captured the Robertson Cup with a four games to one victory over the Kitchener Rangers. Besides Orr, other big names in the league that year included Mickey Redmond, Serge Savard and Derek Sanderson.

Jack McIntyre – Head Coach

Behind the bench in 1965-66 stood the experience of 499 regular season NHL games. McIntyre played for the Boston Bruins, Chicago Black Hawks and Detroit Red Wings. His roots in the OHA went back to three years with the St. Catherines Teepees from 1947-48 to 1949-50. Jack coached the Nats for just that one season. The following year, he was head coach of the Johnstown Jets in the Eastern Hockey League.

Walt McKechnie

McKechnie played with the Nationals in 1965-66 and 1966-67, along with one game in 1967-68. He was a sixth overall pick in the 1963 NHL Amateur Draft, going to the Toronto Maple Leafs. He would eventually play for the Maple Leafs but nearer to the end of the NHL career.

A bit of a suitcase, Walt played 955 regular season NHL games between 1967-68 and 1982-83 with the Minnesota North Stars, California Golden Seals, Boston Bruins, Detroit Red Wings, Washington Capitals, Cleveland Barons, Toronto Maple Leafs and Colorado Rockies.

In his transitional 1967-68 season, McKechnie was selected as the Western Hockey League’s top rookie. In 67 games with the Phoenix Road Runners, he scored 24 goals and assisted on 30 for 54 points.

Jim Dorey

Dorey played for the Nationals in 1965-66 and 1966-67 after appearing in 21 games for the Niagara Falls Flyers in 1963-64. Jim was a fourth round pick of the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1964. He went on to play 232 regular season games in the NHL with Toronto and the New York Rangers (just 1 game) between 1968-69 and 1971-72. Dorey played 431 regular season games in the World Hockey Association, lasting out the entire history of the rebel league. He played for the New England Whalers and Quebec Nordiques. Jim returned to his OHA roots to coach the Kingston Canadians in the 1980’s.

Randy Murray

1965-66 was Murray’s only year in the OHA and the Nationals. He played pro hockey until 1972-73, mostly with the Tulsa Oilers of the Central Hockey League. Randy appeared in three games with the Toronto Maple Leafs during the 1969-70 season, registering just one minor penalty.

Darryl Edestrand

In his only year with London, Darryl played 45 of the team’s 48 games while also playing 17 games in the AHL with the Rochester Americans. In 1964-65, Edestrand played five games for the Toronto Marlboros. In the NHL, Darryl played 455 regular season games between 1967-68 and 1978-79 with the St. Louis Blues, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Boston Bruins and Los Angeles Kings.

Bob Cook

1965-66 was Cook’s only year in the OHA and he split it between London and the Kitchener Rangers. Bob played 72 regular season games in the NHL between 1970-71 and 1974-75 with the Vancouver Canucks, Detroit Red Wings, New York Islanders and Minnesota North Stars.

Norm ‘Rocky’ Farr

Hockey trivia buffs take note. Farr was the first player in the Nationals / Knights organization to be chosen as an OHA All-Star. Norm was the Second Team All-Star goaltender in 1965-66, playing 47 of 48 games for the Nats and recording a 4.99 goals against average.

1965-66 was Farr’s only full season with London, he split 66-67 wih the Nationals and Oshawa Generals. In 1963-64, he played a handful of games for the Montreal Junior Canadiens. Norm played 19 regular season games in the National Hockey League between 1972-73 and 1974-75, all with the Buffalo Sabres.

 

 

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