|Out of the Mists of the Past
|The Kenora Thistles: 1907 Stanley Cup Champions
Continuing his career with the A.H.A. senior league Ottawa Aberdeens, Harry then jumped to the roster of the Ottawa Silver Seven in 1895. Though he only scored one goal in five games, Westwick showed strength in his two way play, and was to become a mainstay on the team for the next ten seasons. Harry averaged nearly a goal a game for the next two seasons, but injuries limited his 1897-98 campaign and he only tallied one goal. Harry played a year with the senior league Ottawa Capitals before returning once again to the Silver Seven. Harry's scoring prowess came back on track in 1900-01, when he posted six goals in seven games with the Silver Seven. The following year, he increased that number to a then career-high 11 goals in 8 games, proving that, when healthy, he was amongst the finest scorers of his generation. In six regular season games in 1902-03, Westwick netted six goals, helping to lead his team to a first place league tie with the then holders of the Stanley Cup, the Montreal Victorias.
In March of 1903, With the help of teammates and future NHL hall-of-famers Billy Gilmour, Harvey Pulford, and "One-Eyed" Frank McGee, the Silver Seven took the Cup away from the champs in a violent, two game, total points series. The first game, played on the sluggish ice of Montreal, ended up in a 1-1 draw. Westwick's shifty style always led some teams who could not stop him to try and injure him. The best example of this came in that heated March match against the hated Victorias. The Vics knocked him out of the game three times, each time culminating in a brave Westwick return, before finally managing to break Westwick's leg just above the ankle. Tough as nails, the Rat skated off the ice, ankle bone protuding from his sock, to be tended to. Just three days later, Westwick was amongst the crowd of 3,000 that wildly cheered as the Silver Seven, bent on revenging their fallen comrade, trounced the Victorias 8-0 in the second match and claimed the Cup.
Just two days later, Harry again watched form the sidelines as the Silver Seven defended their newly won piece of hockey hardware against the upstart Thistles squad from Rat Portage, Ontario, though the two contests-- 6-2, and 4-2-- both in favor of Ottawa, were more competitive. These two series were the beginning of an amazing run in which Westwick and the mighty Silver Seven went on to post 10 consecutive Stanley Cup challenge series victories before finally losing the trophy to the Montreal Wanderers in 1906.
Ever the clutch performer, Rat excelled in the playoffs. In 1904, after an undefeated season in the Canadian Amateur Hockey League (C.A.H.L.), the Silver Seven were challenged by four different teams within a span of 45 days-- the Winnipeg Rowing Club, the Toronto Marlboros (who had on their team future Thistles teammate Tommy Phillips), the Montreal Wanderers, and the Brandon Wheat Kings. Ottawa took care of them all. Westwick, who had only managed to play 2 regular season games that year, potted six goals in the eight total playoff games.
In 1905 Harry added nine goals in five games to complement his regular season total of 15 goals in 8 games and an appearance as a second team F.A.H.L. all-star. Ottawa's Stanley Cup opponents that year were Rat Portage, whom the Silver Seven just got by, and a brave team of stalwart players from Dawson City who had to travel 4,000 miles by dogsled and train just to make the challenge match! In thw 1906 Stanley Cup challenge matches, Rat scored eight goals, yet his team ended its amazing three-year championship run with a playoff loss to their league rival the Wanderers.
The following regular season Westwick again showcased his amazing scoring consistency. The Rat scored fourteen goals in nine regular season games. A game before the conclusion of the 1906-07 season, realizing that Ottawa would not earn a Stanley Cup challenge match against their formidable Eastern Canada Hockey Association (E.C.H.A.) rivals the Wanderers, Westwick, along with team captain Alf Smith jumped ship to play for the current Stanley Cup champion, the Kenora Thistles, the team who, as Rat Portage, had been beaten by Ottawa for the Cup in both 1903 and 1905. After playing one regular season game with the Thistles, Westwick went on to score two goals in a two game playoff vs. regional rival Brandon, but came up empty in the Cup finals series vs. the mighty Wanderers. The Thistles lost the total-goals series 12-8 and both Westwick and Smith returned to Ottawa, along with brilliantly talented Kenora captain Tommy Phillips.
Westwick's last season, 1907-08, saw him net ten goals in ten games. After nearly a decade of brilliant play, Westwick, at the age of 32, decided to retire. The year after Harry retired, the Stanley Cup come back to Ottawa without nary a challenge match. Though not a member of the team, the Rat still went out a winner.
Westwick continued his association with hockey by being a referee in the precursor of the N.H.L., the National Hockey Association.
Harry Westwick died in his hometown of Ottawa on April 3, 1957. He was named to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1962.
TEAM PHOTOS FEATURING HARRY WESTWICK:
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