Inkerman Rockets – THE FIRST CHAPTER
Every so often, when I was a member of the Hockey Night in Canada telecast team, someone high in the crowd at the Montreal Forum or Maple Leaf Gardens would shout down to me, “Hey Brian, remember the Inkerman Rockets?” I would look up and wave and shout back, “You bet. How could I ever forget them?”
I was pleased and proud whenever anyone recalled that I played for the Inkerman Rockets, a scrappy junior A team that was the talk of the Ottawa Valley in the 40’s and 50’s.
No village so small ever produced a team so good. Inkerman was so tiny – possibly a hundred residents – that it didn’t even have a hockey rink. And there was no league for an Inkerman team to play in. Inkerman did have a school though and a schoolteacher named Lloyd Laporte, who loved the game and he enjoyed nothing more than giving kids an opportunity to play it. He built a small rink in the school yard and began organizing teams and games.
He even coached a team in the Winchester Town league. Winchester was a slightly bigger town, five miles down the road. But he had a dream of bringing a team to Inkerman.
At the end of his first season with Winchester, Laporte found himself with a $48 surplus in the kitty. He figured this might be almost enough to purchase new jerseys for a new teamin Inkerman. So he drove 30 miles to Ottawa one day and there he found a real bargain in a sporting goods store. On sale were more than a dozen red and white sweaters (Nobody called them jerseys back then) with a huge letter R on the front.
The clerk said, “Some team ordered these but never picked them up. They’re a great buy for $48 dollars if your team nickname begins with R.”
Laporte said, “I’ll take them. And I’ll name my team the Rockets.”
I’ll share more about the Inkerman Rocket’s story on another day.