Sophomore Bulls Look for Playoff Berth

Sophomore Bulls Look for Playoff Berth


After nearly making the Playoffs with a record-setting run as an expansion team, GM-coach Larry Mavety was crystal clear in what he planned to do for an encore in the 1982-83 season.

He expected the second-year Bulls to continue to buck tradition and immedi­ately compete for a playoff spot.

Mavety knew that he had a more experi­enced club after making several trades dur­ing the inaugural season and that sopho­mores like Dunc MacIntyre -who he named captain -and former first overall pick Dan Quinn would be much better pre­pared to lead his club into the post-season.

“Unbelievable Natural Skills…”

For his part, Quinn felt that he left a lit­tle on the table as a rookie. He put on 15 pounds of muscle during the summer expected a much better season as a sopho­more.

“Dan had unbelievable natural skills,” said captain Dunc MacIntyre.

“That was very evident. That first year he had a lot of pressure, and put a lot of pressure on him­self to perform. The second year, I think he settled into the type of hockey player that Dan Quinn knew he could be and that everyone else knew he could be.”

Dan Quinn (right) was one of the Belleville Bulls early stars

Quinn was strong in the first half of the season -he scored three goals in the Bulls’ 7-1 win against the Sudbury Wolves for their third straight win in November and then lifted the team with a spectacular goal on an end-to-end rush that lifted the Bulls to a 6-5 come-from-behind overtime win in Kingston in early December.

But it was the second half of the season that was clearly the difference in Quinn and the Bulls from the year before.

Quinn scored another hat trick and added five assists to set a new team record for points in a game, leading the club to a 10-2 win against the expansion Guelph Platers in early January.

He also scored five times in a pair of late January wins against the Kingston Canadians that all but locked the Bulls into a playoff spot.

Quinn was the first star in three straight wins that brought the Bulls to within three points of the Cornwall Royals for fifth place in the division.

He scored four goals, including the winner in overtime to give the Bulls a 7-6 win over the Peterborough Petes on the Global OHL Game of the Week in March.

Wayne Gretzky, who purchased 45% of the Bulls from Bob Dolan and became Dr. Vaughan’s new partner, was in attendance when the Bulls defeated the Brantford Alexanders 4-3 on March 3 to clinch their first OHL playoff berth.

Quinn, a finalist for the most underrated player in the season end-ing OHL coach’s poll, had a goal and four assists in Belleville’s season-ending 7-3 win over the Kitchener Rangers.

Forward Mike Clayton was one of two players brought over from the Kitchener Rangers in a trade for star forward Dave Nicholls in the 1981-82 sea­son.

Clayton emerged as a solid OHLers during his time in Belleville.

“Mav gave me the chance to play here and by showing confidence in me I gained some confidence in myself,” Clayton told The Intelligencer.

Clayton com­bined with linemates Quinn and Mark Hegarty to score 10 goals and 22 points in a three-win stretch in November.

Heart and Soul

If a casual observer didn’t know why Dunc MacIntyre was the heart and soul of the Belleville Bulls, they would understand completely if they watched the feisty centre when the Bulls traveled to Brantford late in the reg­ular season.

Needing just one win to clinch their first ever playoff spot, the Bulls were anx­ious to score early. MacIntyre was crushed into the end boards in the first period and needed 13 stitches to close a gash over his eye.

He returned later in the game and tipped in the tying goal in the third period to help the Bulls rebound from a 3-1 deficit.

Dunc MacIntyre (left) was an early leader for the Belleville Bulls

The Bulls secured the playoff berth and MacIntyre put his name amongst the team’s first heroes.

“It was truly an honour for me,” MacIntyre reflected. “I probably put a lot of pressure on myself at the start of that second year just because it was a big responsibility.”

The Bulls drew a tough card in the opening round of the playoffs -they faced the Oshawa Generals, who rolled through a 24-game undefeated streak earlier in the season.

The Bulls had won just one of six games against the Generals in the regular season and managed just one tie in the six-point playoff loss.

The Bulls returned to the ice for a curtain call from the capacity crowd of 3,300 fans.

“They were guys that just wanted to play the game,” Mavety said. “They loved hockey and if you were going to beat them, you were going to pay the price. There was very few games that those guys didn’t show up to play.

“Quinn might have got the points, but everybody contributed.”

Excerpt from 25 Years with the Belleville Bulls (Bell, Aaron 2005)

Intelligencer photo courtesy Community Archives of Belleville and Hastings County

Bulls Charged Through Inaugural OHL Season

Bulls Charged Through Inaugural OHL Season


After claiming their historic first OHL win against the Kingston Canadiens, the expansion Belleville Bulls were looking for more.

They got it quickly, winning their second game when captain Dunc McIntyre tipped in the winner to give the home team a 4-3 overtime win over Brian Kilrea’s Ottawa 67’s.

After that pair of home wins, the Bulls traveled to Kitchener to face the defending OHL champions.

16 fights and 314 penalty minutes later, the Bulls were handed their first defeat -an 8-2 loss to the Rangers.

The game started with a fight between Craig Kitchener and Mike Moher in the warm-up and escalated to the point where fans were throwing pop cans at the bench, At one point, coach Larry Mavety tore off his jacket and was ready to go into the stands after the culprits.

Cooler heads prevailed; the cops charged the can thrower and the Bulls left with their first loss.

Future Bulls’ coach and Belleville native Lou Crawford scored Kitcheners sixth goal and then ended the game with a fight with Crocock.

The club skated to an impressive 9-3 record at home to start the seaon, but Mavety was concerned with their play away from the Quinte Sports Centre – the Bulls were winless in 10 road games.

Mavety challenged his squad to start looking for better results on the road.

Nicholls responded with a pair of goals against his former team to lead the Bulls to a 6-3 win in Windsor in late November.

It was their first win on the road and Nicholls took a great amount of pride in helping the Bulls achieve­ment while giving the Spitfires cause to consider why they left him unprotected in the off-season.

First round pick Dan Quinn had trouble finding the net early in his rookie sea­son, but caught fire in November and had 30 points by early December including a hat trick and an assist in a 6-5 win over Kingston on December 12.

One week later, the Bulls picked up a 4-2 win against the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds.

It was the Bulls 15th win and set a new record for an OHL expansion team.

“I think it was a very exciting time for the Bulls, not only for the players themselves, but also for the city,” MacIntyre said.

“By the second half of the season, we were legitimately contending for the playoffs and teams knew that when they came in to Belleville to play or when we traveled to their hometowns that it wasn’t going to be a walk in the park for them. It was going to be a tough game.”

“At a major level of hockey, Belleville is probably the most successful expansion team in the history of expansion,” Branch was quoted in The Hockey News. “That is because a lot of preparation went into having them join our league.”

After some roster shuffling before the January trade dead­line that brought in overager Tony Butorac and defencemen Scott Defoe and Ian Macinnes, the Bulls hit a rough stretch in January.

They started the month tied with the Cornwall Royals for a playoff spot, but lost MacIntyre -the club’s top scorer -with a concussion and Defoe briefly left the club to ponder his future in the game.

Nicholls was sent to Kitchener for Mike Clayton, who brought playoff experience to the Bulls’ blueline.

The highlight of the month was back-to-back wins over the Rangers – who went on to win the Memorial Cup ­including a 6-5 overtime win in Kitchener. They lost two straight games in February when the winning goal bounced in off of a Bulls’ defenceman.

They also dropped a 5-4 over­time win to Kingston despite outshooting them 42-24.

Mavety told the local media that for his team to win games, they would have to be a lot tougher than they had been of late.

He assembled his squad for a meeting in late February to tell them as much. He wasn’t looking for bench clearing brawls as much as aggressive work in the corners and making their opponents pay a physical price.

Two days later, Mavety and four players were suspended after a brawl with the Toronto Marlies at Maple Leaf Gardens.

Goalie Ken Porteous was one of the players suspended ­he would miss the remainder of the season for his part in the incident.

The loss of players gave the Bulls the opportunity to call up “Cowboy” Joe McCallion from the Brampton Warriors. McCallion was instrumental in the Bulls Tier II win and scored a pair of goals in his first two OHL games.

A 2-1 loss to Sudbury on February 28 officially eliminated the Bulls from the playoffs. The team closed out the home schedule of their first OHL season with a 4-3 win over Kingston.

The 2,200 fans in attendance at the Quinte Sports Centre gave the club a standing ovation at the end of the game and called the players out to skate a final lap around the ice. The Bulls’ 50 points doubled the previous record for an expansion team.

“We were small and we were young and we had some battles,” said rookie Marty McSorley, who earned his spot in the roster after an invitation to training camp.

“We had teams that would try to take advantage of us and I think they found out that they had opened up a hornet’s nest. They had their hands full.”

“I think that team set the tone for Belleville teams in the future,” Mavety said.

Excerpt from 25 Years with the Belleville Bulls (Bell, Aaron 2005)

Intelligencer photo courtesy Community Archives of Belleville and Hastings County

Quinn was the Bulls’ first scoring star

Quinn was the Bulls’ first scoring star


With Dan Quinn, there was never any question that he would be a dominant player in the OHL. But as the Bulls’ first ever draft pick ­first overall in the 1981
midget draft ­would Quinn become dominant in time to help the expansion Bulls?

As a rookie, Quinn put up solid ­if unspectacular ­ scoring numbers. He managed just one goal and six points in his first 14 games but then emerged as a bona-fide scorer with 13 goals and 22 points in the next 17 games.

He finished his rookie year with 19 goals and 51 points in 67 games.

“He was going to be a hockey player…”

“He was going to be a hockey player, that was in his mind,” Bulls GM/coach Larry Mavety said. “I think in his first year, he got by on talent alone. He was a very talented hockey player. When he first came in, he was living on being the first
overall pick more than anything else.”

Not satisfied with the results of his rookie year, Quinn went to work in the off-season to add 15 pounds of muscle that would help him compete in every game
during the long season.

“I was brutal at the start of the season and the end of the season,” Quinn admitted to The Intelligencer. “I played pretty well in November and December but that was about it. I saw other players that were drafted early doing better than me and I think that made me put some pressure on myself.”

“Came out flying…”

Quinn came out flying as a sophomore; he led the team with 59 goals and 147 points and was among the finalists for the Red Tilson Trophy as the OHL’s top player.

His breakout season was noticed by the NHL scouts and Calgary Flames took Quinn with their first round pick in the 1983 draft.

He enjoyed an extended stay in Calgary’s training camp the next fall and was leading the OHL in scoring with 59 points games when he was summoned to return to Calgary to replace injured veteran Jim Peplinski.

NHL Debut…

Quinn picked up an assist in his NHL debut against the Toronto Maple Leafs and scored his first NHL goal two weeks later in a 5-5 tie against the Edmonton Oilers.

In that same game, Bulls’ co-owner Wayne Gretzky scored to extend his point scoring streak to 36 games. Gretzky went on to set a 51-game streak that still stands as an NHL record.

For Quinn, it was the start of an NHL career that lasted more than 800 games.

“He’s smart and clever with the puck,” Flames’ coach Bob Johnson said about Quinn, who was runner-up to Steve Yzerman as the NHL’s rookie of the month that December.

“He’s playing well for an 18-year-old. Actually, he’s playing well period.

Quinn’s situation helped shape the new agreement with the OHL and NHL clubs ability to call up junior-aged players during the season.

Excerpt from 25 Years with the Belleville Bulls (Bell, Aaron 2005)

Intelligencer photo courtesy Community Archives of Belleville and Hastings County

Bobcats make a big impression in their first season

Bobcats make a big impression in their first season


When the Belleville Bobcats opened training camp in the fall of 1972 for their first campaign in the Metro Jr. B Hockey League, they had plenty of new faces around…along with a few familiar ones.

The Bobcats were moving on from the Eastern Ontario Jr. B loop and were moving, along with the Peterborough Lions and Oshawa Legionaires, to the superior 10-team Metro League.

Defencemen Tim Yohn was back from the previous season and was looking to help the Bobcats establish themselves in their new league. Dave Horwood and Bill Jackett were also back but coach Moe Hunter was looking for more players among the 36 hopefuls taking the ice for training camp at Dick Ellis Arena.

Among the newcomers that stood out were forwards Rick Meagher and Rob Foster, who were both graduating from the local juvenile team.

Despite the promising youngsters, Hunter was worried about the makeup of his team early on.

“All the guys we have signed are good hockey players,” Hunter told The Intelligencer. “But we haven’t got much size and we could use some defencemen. Right now, all we’ve got is Timmy (Yohn).

The Bobcats added defenders Neil Turner from the Trenton Midgets and Wally Dainard, who had just returned from the Peterborough Petes’ training camp, along with 16-year-old goaltender Bob Moore, who was entering his first junior season.

Bobcats coach Moe Hunter (left) and manager Russ Soule look on during a training camp skate at Dick Ellis Arena

Hunter also welcomed Ken Holmes and Paul Lavender, who both played for the Picton Jr. B’s the previous season. 

Belleville Bobcats “Willing to hustle”

“We have players from Belleville juveniles, Trenton juveniles,Belleville midgets and Trenton Midgets,” Hunter said after a 4-3 loss to Peterborough in the Bobcats’ pre-season opener. “We’re really trying to weld together about six teams from last year, so it’s really not surprising that we weren’t clicking as a team. 

“We’ve got a lot of work to do but I thought we showed we have a lot of guys who are willing to hustle.”

The Bobcats picked up a win in their season opener, clubbing the Kingston Frontenacs 7-1. Meagher’s goal late in the second period put the home team in position to win the historic game.  Meagher picked up a clearing pass in the neutral zone and used his speed to beat the Kingston netminder.

“That goal by Meagher was the big turning point for us,” Hunter said after the game.

The Bobcats also picked up an early win against the defending champion Markham Waxers that put the league on notice that the upstarts from Belleville were going to be stiff competition.

“Wild” fans give Belleville Bobcats a home ice advantage

“We don’t have the same polish that we had last season, but we’ve got a lot of hustle on this team,” Hunter said. “We’re going to lose a few games but we’re going to win our share too. I’d say we’ve got a good shot at finishing in the top half of the league.”

Yohn, Meagher and Turner all made an impact in the league in the first half of the season. All three Bobcats were selected to represent the East Division in the Metro League All-Star Game in Toronto. 

Bobcats Neil Turner (left), Rick Meagher and Tim Yohn were named to the mid-season All-Star Game

“The fans are wild down there…” 

Frequent crowds of 1,200 at the Memorial Arena in Downtown Belleville gave the Bobcats a decided advantage against visiting opponents.

Locally, it brought back memories of the Belleville McFarlands heyday 15 years earlier.

“The fans are wild down there,” said Toronto Nationals coach Chuck Cromie, who admitted his players struggled to adjust to the rambunctious fans in Belleville after playing their home games in front of just a handful of fans. “I guess they have nothing to do on a Friday night except go watch hockey.”

The Bobcats (17-14-5)  did finish in the top half of the league as Hunter predicted but a seven-game losing skid near the end of the season likely cost them a spot or two.

Belleville’s fifth place finish set up a first round playoff matchup against the Peterborough Lions, who finished in first place with 26 regular season wins. 

The Bobcats didn’t win any of their four meetings with Peterborough in the regular season but made up for that by eliminating them in six-games in the opening round series.

Meagher continued to rack up points while rookie Peter Smrke was terrific at both ends of the ice and helped keep league scoring leader Bob Wasson from doing much damage in the series.

“He’s a great defensive player, but he can score goals,” Hunter said of Smrke, whose father Lou Smrke helped the Belleville McFarlands win the World Hockey Championship in 1959. “They’ve got to watch all three of our lines. They all can score.”

The Bobcats went on to sweep Oshawa in the second round to earn a spot in the league finals against the Nationals.

Legionnaires coach Jack Armstrong was impressed by the tenacity of the upstart Bobcats.

“They are a fired up hockey club,” Armstrong said. “Their coach did a hell of a job with that hockey club.”

Belleville Bobcats advance to league championship series

Nats coach Cromie was in attendance for the final game of the series  and acted as though his team didn’t stand a chance against the upstart Bobcats.

“That team is too fast for us,” Cromie said. “They’ve got too much hustle. Too much skating power.”

The Belleville Bobcats faced the Toronto Nationals in the 1973 Metro Jr. B finals

Whether Cromie was being genuine or trying to play mind games before the series starts, his comments didn’t seem to phase the Bobcats, who jumped out to an early lead in the series with a 7-5 win in Game 1 in Toronto. 

The Nats had a 5-4 edge late in regulation but the Bobcats tied the game with goalie Bob Moore on the bench for an extra attacker. 

Jim Richardson scored the tying goal before Meagher got the winner in overtime. Meagher added three assists and was named first star of the game.

The Nats adjusted their forecheck to try to counter Meagher’s speed through the open ice. The tactic helped them slow Meagher’s scoring and helped the Nats rebound with a 5-4 overtime win in Game 3.

The Bobcats took a stranglehold in the series with a win in Game 4 before the Nats stormed back with three straight wins to send the series to a seventh and deciding game.

“We’ll have to come up with a big win, but with this club, anything’s possible,” Hunter said about the deciding game in Toronto. “I hope we can bounce back, but if not, well it’s been a good year.”

Bobcats’ coach Moe Hunter

Meagher scored a second period goal for the Bobcats, but it wasn’t enough as the Nats went on to win the championship with a 5-3 win in the deciding game in Toronto.

“Ricky must have played around 35 minutes out there,” Hunter said. Meagher finished the playoffs with a team-leading 31 points (8 goals, 23 assist).

During the final series, Meagher was named Metro Jr. B Rookie of the Year after scoring 30 goals and 62 points in 33 games for the Bobcats.

Rick Meagher (left) of the Belleville Bobcats was the 1972-73 Metro Jr. B Rookie of the Year

Meagher was also helping his Quinte Secondary School basketball squad win the all-Ontario OFSAA championship.

Intelligencer photos courtesy Community Archives of Belleville and Hastings County

McSorley made his first impression in Belleville

McSorley made his first impression in Belleville


Marty McSorley needed to make a quick impression and he had a pretty good idea how to do it. 

More than 70 players were suited up at the Bulls’ first training camp before their inaugural season in 1981 and McSorley -a free agent invitee – would have to give GM/coach Larry Mavety a good reason to keep him around. 

McSorley made an impression all right. 

He scored and then got in a fight in his first exhibition game, a 9-4 loss to the Kingston Canadians. 

McSorley, who grew up on a farm in Cayuga, Ontario, had a solid season with the Hamilton Kilty Jr. B’s and was invited to the Bulls’ camp by team scout John Mowat. 

Mavety had a board in his office that had a card with each player’s name on it. He used the board to figure out who was going to play and who was going home. 

After one of the training camp sessions, Mavety was looking at the board and knew that someone was missing. He realized that it was McSorley. The other observers with the team had already dismissed McSorley as a candidate for the team and had trashed his card. 

Long time Belleville Bulls coach and GM Larry Mavety overlooks the team’s first trsining camp in 1981

“Unfortunately, I coach the hockey club, not you,” Mavety told the others. “I say he stays and he stayed.” 

Mowat had a heart-to-heart with McSorley during training camp that gave the young player some insight into what he needed to do to make the team. 

“They needed to know that there are some guys that could protect the other guys,” McSorley reflected. 

“Being a farm boy, he didn’t have to tell me twice. I went out there and got into quite a few scraps in that training camp. It opened the door for me to continue on. I really wanted to make the team.” 

Mavety liked what he saw in McSorley – he probably reminded Mavety of himself nearly 20 years earlier. 

“He was proving to everyone that he belonged.”

“Let’s face it, he was tough,” Mavety said. “But he worked. He was proving to everyone that he belonged.” 

McSorley made the Bulls’ opening game lineup, but was a healthy scratch for several games early in his first season. He missed more time with a back injury midway through the year, but worked hard to develop into a solid contributor by the end of the season. 

Defenceman Marty McSorley emerged as one of the first fan favourites of the Belleville Bulls

He spent his mornings on the ice at the Sports Centre. 

“I really think that Mav knew that I was going to keep working on trying to get there,” McSorley said. “The guys in the rink were so great to me. I know there were people that called to rent the ice and those guys who worked in the rink would say ‘sorry it’s booked’ because they knew that I was going on the ice in the morning. 

“For me, coming from the farm, going out on the ice was fun.” 

“I’d get my skates and just go and skate. When the ice was booked I’d go and skate on the outside rink. For me, coming from the farm, going out on the ice was fun.” 

The next summer, the Penguins were looking for an extra defenceman for their training camp. Mavety suggested that they bring in McSorley. He made enough of an impression that the Penguins signed him to a pro contract. 

McSorleydeveloped with the Bulls and became a force in his second season. He had six goals and 43 points through February and was selected to play in the all-star game on home ice in Belleville. 

Marty McSorley fearlessly patroled the Belleville Bulls’ blueline as a rookie in 1981

He was one of the club’s most dependable blueliners and finished the year with 10 goals and 51 points to go along with 183 penalty minutes. 

McSorley was a key ingredient that helped the Bulls make the playoffs in their second season. He and Dan Quinn were the only Bulls to play in all 70 regular season games that year, but McSorley suffered an ankle injury in the first game of their playoff series against Oshawa. 

He wasn’t 100% for the series finale, but refused to end his OHL career watching the game from the seats. 

After two seasons, McSorley had made his mark on the Belleville Bulls. 

He became an inspiration to other players who were never drafted, but made the most of their opportunity. 

He spent most of the next 17 years playing in the National Hockey League. McSorley won the Stanley Cup twice. 

Not bad for a walk-on. 

Excerpt from 25 Years with the Belleville Bulls (Bell, Aaron 2005)

Intelligencer photo courtesy Community Archives of Belleville and Hastings County

Marc Crawford searching for another championship

Marc Crawford searching for another championship

When Marc Crawford accepted the associate coaching job with the Ottawa Senators, he saw it as a chance to get back into the hunt for a prize that he’s been chasing for more than two decades.

Crawford was looking for a chance to win the Stanley Cup again after guiding the Colorado Avalanche to hockey’s top prize in 1996 and after five years away from the National Hockey League, the Senators’ call was a welcome one.

In his first season behind the bench with head coach Guy Boucher, Crawford helped the Senators to a 44-win season followed by a dramatic playoff run that ended in a double-overtime loss to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins in game seven of the Eastern Conference final.

It was a giant step forward for a team that had missed the playoffs the previous season.

The 54-year-old Belleville native has coached in more than 1,200 games in the NHL. He won the Jack Adams Trophy as the league’s top coach in 1994-95 and guided the Colorado Avalanche to a Stanley Cup win in their first season in Denver.

He brought the Stanley Cup to Belleville then and he desperately wants another shot at doing it again.

“It was a great experience,” Crawford said. “But my goal is to get there again.”

And if anyone knows how to win a championship, it’s Crawford.

It started with a pair of Memorial Cup championships as the captain of the Cornwall Royals in the late 1980’s. He helped the Vancouver Canucks get to the Stanley Cup finals in 1982 and then as a young coach, helped the St. John’s Maple Leafs get to the Calder Cup finals a decade later. In his second season behind the bench in the NHL, Crawford hoisted the Stanley Cup with the Avalanche.

Belleville native Derek Smith played a season under Crawford with the Zurich Lions in the Swiss A-League and said that he was thankful for the short time they spent together.

“The biggest thing with him is that he is emotional which is great as a coach,” Smith said. “He played the game which helps but just having him behind the bench – he has a feel for the game and it really helps a lot. He is such a great person and he has definitely helped me out a lot in my career in just a short time that we have been together.”

Crawford is looking forward to seeing how the Senators’ top prospects develop here in Belleville with the newly-arrived American Hockey League team. He was a sounding board for dozens of the conversations that led to the team moving here to start the 2017-18 season as the Senators’ top affiliate.

From Belleville Magazine (printed 2017)