|Out of the Mists of the Past
|The Kenora Thistles: 1907 Stanley Cup Champions
Even though all evidence indicates that hockey was Roxy's primary passion, he also competed in other local sports. He was a member of the Rat Portage (later Kenora) Rowing Club and rowed with his fellow Thistles teammates at local competitions and regattas. He also played baseball along with Tommy Phillips, and Si Griffis for the local Alerts team.
By the turn of the century, the Thistles had assembled a formidable talent base. Losing top scorer Phillips to college in the early part of the new century did little to weaken their apparent depth. With most players not even out of their teens, the Thistles won the 1902-03 Manitoba and Northeastern Hockey Association (M.N.H.A.) title and issued a challenge for the famed trophy of senior hockey, the Stanley Cup
Roxy, who had just turned 19 years of age, played right wing in the March, 1903 challenge series against the Ottawa Silver Seven, an extremely powerful group of easterners that had no fewer than six future hall-of-famers on their roster: coach Alf Smith, Billy Gilmour, "Bouse" Hutton, Harry "Rat" Westwick, Frank "One Eyed" McGee, and Harvey Pulford. While he possessed excellent stamina, decent speed and above average puckhandling ability, Roxy was not blessed with a hard shot, and, rather than shooting, sought to pass off to one of his cannon-armed teammates. That being said, Beaudro was exceptional on defense and was widely regarded as being the best backchecker on the entire team.
Though the Thistles fought valiantly throughout the two-game, total-goals series, the Ottawa squad came up victorious, but not without a bit of controversy. The "ice" that Roxy and the Thistles were forced to play on was in questionable shape-- prone to slush, cracks, and pooled water-- and negated any advantage they would have had in regards to speed. The young team returned to Kenora, beaten, but with increased confidence in their abilities.
The following season was successful, with the Thistles winning 8 and losing 4, but several injuries kept them out of the hunt for a Stanley Cup challenge, the rights to which were reserved by the first place Brandon Wheat Kings, who won 9 and lost only 3. Roxy played ten games at right wing that year, registering two goals. The following season was anxiously awaited, for it was known that Tommy Phillips would be returning from the east to once again join the Rat Portage squad. For Roxy, this meant being bumped back down to a back-up role, being replaced by Tom Hooper who previously assumed a spot on defense. Roxy shared duties with Theo "Tuff" Bellefeuille at the cover point position, failing to score in two starts. Still, with the addition of Phillips, who scored 26 goals in eight league games, the Thistles were dominant, easily winning the league with a 7-1 record and eyeing the Ottawa Silver Seven for a much anticipated Stanley Cup re-match.
For the challenge series, Beaudro was relegated to the role of spare, watching from the sidelines as the Thistles once again trudged valiantly through the questionable slush of the Silver Seven's home ice and once again came up a bit short, this time in a best of three that went the full three games. Game one saw the Thistles and their recently implemented metal tube skates rush past a beleaguered Ottawa club 9-3. Game two saw the Thistles go down in defeat to the Silver Seven 4-2. To many it was apparent that Ottawa homers had flooded the ice with water before the match to ensure that a repeat of the high octane blowout of game one was not repeated. Game three had the Thistles leading 3-2 with fifteen minutes to play, but the Ottawas came storming back and took the game 5-4. Beaudro and his band again went away from the icy banks of the Rideau Canal empty handed.
After a summer spent keeping in shape by rowing and playing baseball, Roxy and the Thistles hit the ice for the 1905-06 season. The team was the sharpest and healthiest it had ever been, and, with Tom Hooper moving back to cover point, Roxy anchored the right wing position with increasing confidence, scoring 6 goals in eight contests as the Thistles breezed to an M.H.L. championship with a 7-1 record. With the season ending too late to issue a challenge to the Silver Seven for yet another re-match, the Thistles would have to wait for the beginning of the following season to make their successful Cup run.
During that offseason, something happened to the Thistles-- they openly merged into the world of professionalism. With the dramatic increase in spectator interest and the financial windfall of increasing gate receipts, hockey players began to demand more as well. Beaudro and the Kenora players agreed to join the ranks of professionalism and at the end of December the M.H.L. split in two, with some teams opting for fully amateur status and the Thistles, Brandon Wheat Kings, and the Portage La Prairie Plains going pro.
When January rolled around and it was time to play their belated 1905-06 challenge match, Beaudro and the Thistles found that they were not to play Ottawa but the upstart Montreal Wanderers, who had wrested the Cup away from the Silver Seven that previous March. To offset the loss of veteran defenseman Matt Brown, the Thistles added Brandon's Art Ross to the mix, as well as "Bad" Joe Hall as a spare.
Unlike their other two Cup challenges which were played in the relative warmth of March, the Thistles were to play the Wanderers on the hard ice of January, which allowed them to employ their tic-tac-toe playmaking and speed to full effect. The series had been changed to a two-game, total goals series, but that did not faze the lads in the least. Taking game one 4-3, the Thistles set the stage for an epic game two in which the Wanderers came storming back from a 6-2 deficit to make it 6 all with just over one minute to play. The Thistles seemed unable to stem the onslaught of the mighty Wanderers offense, but they found salvation from the unlikeliest of sources. After two unsuccessful rushes where the formidable LW Tommy Phillips launched two shots at Wanderers' goalie Riley Hern, Si Griffis took control of the puck and decided to try the other side. Bringing it up to the goal area, Griffis passed the puck back to Beaudro, who was left uncovered near the side of the net. Roxy gained control and launched a perfect little shot that got by the Hall of Fame netminder. Thirty seconds later Tom Hooper added an insurance tally. The Thistles had their championship and Beaudro not only scored the game winning, but the Cup clinching goal as well.
Roxy and the Thistles had reached the pinnacle of hockey success, but still there was a season of hockey left to be played. Beaudro played extremely well in a season that was noted for its numerous injuries to key players. Billy McGimsie went down with a shoulder injury that effectively ended his career. Tom Hooper was lost for half the season as well. The Thistles brought in the talents of Phillips' and McGimsie's younger brothers Russell and Charlie to help, but the rookies were just too light and inexperienced to keep up with the hardened play of the newest Canadian professional league. Roxy helped out by scoring four times in six matches, but outside help was soon deemed a necessity. By season's end, three men, Peterborough Colts' rover Frederick Whitcroft and Ottawa's Alf Smith and Harry Westwick were brought in to help defend Kenora's trophy from challengers.
The first team that Kenora had to beat were the Brandon Wheat Kings who had managed to win the M.H.L. with a rather ordinary 5-2-2 record. Roxy played in both games but was held scoreless. Still, the Thistles handled the Brandon squad, winning two straight, 8-6 and 4-1. Next came the much ballyhooed re-match versus the Wanderers. On the way to Kenora, the Wanderers had filed a protest against the questionable status of recent acquisitions Westwick and Smith. Eventually, the two would be allowed to play, but the series was moved from the octagonal shaped Victoria Rink in Kenora to the one in Winnipeg. Roxy watched game one from the sidelines and it wasn't pretty. The Wanderers handled the Thistles and their six future hall-of-famers, 7-2. Game two saw Roxy play his last game as a Thistle, and a spirited one at that. Moved to defense to add some needed offensive punch, Beaudro added one tally as the Thistles beat the Wanderers 6-5, but the series was based on total goals and not a best of three, the Thistles went down in defeat by the score of 12-8.
After the series was over, Beaudro apparently retired from hockey and went after more domestic pursuits. Roxy married in August of 1907 and settled down in Winnipeg, moving on to Cochrane, Ontario
Roxy played 8 games with the 228th on defense as the squad quickly established themselves as a contender with a 6-4 first half record, but fell flat coming out of the gate in the second, going 1-3 in their first four games. In early February of 1917, the order came to be shipped overseas and the boys headed to England. Beaudro saw extended combat duty during the war but found his way safely back home, settling into domestic life and raising a family. He lived at various times in Winnipeg, Cochrane, and Thunder Bay, settling in his latter years in Toronto, where he was known to attend Toronto Maple Leafs home games as a guest of legendary announcer Foster Hewitt.
Roxy Beaudro died on February 10, 1960 in Barrie, Ontario after a short battle with cancer. He was 75.
In 1982 Roxy Beaudro and the rest of the 1907 Kenora Thistles were named to the Northwest Ontario Sports Hall of Fame. The Hockey Hall of Fame still waits.
TEAM PHOTOS FEATURING ROXY BEAUDRO:
This web page is designed and maintained by Borden D. Mills. Best viewed using Internet Explorer, with medium fonts, at 600x800 to 1024x1280. It is a historical project, not for commercial gain, and claims all usage of images and photos as that of "fair use". All writings 2001-2007 by Borden D. Mills using a variety of great resources, many of which you can access by going to the links on the lefthand menu. Any comments, information, or corrections anyone has regarding this website can be sent to this address.
Proud member of the Society for International Hockey Research