Growing up in Peterborough, home of the Petes, was really a blast if you were a kid who wanted his junior heroes to play in the NHL. That’s because the Pete’s always had a great record at developing young players for the NHL. There were some great local names out of the Peterborough organization who went on to become NHL stars with Mickey Redmond, Bob Gainey and Steve Larmer among them. Although not from Peterborough, even Gretz himself played 3 games for the Petes when he was only 14 I think.
I remember going to a game as a really little kid with my Dad. It must have been the very early 1970’s. Richard Martin, a future member of the famed French Connection line with Gilbert Perrault and Rene Robert in Buffalo, was playing for the other team and we were behind their bench, close enough for me to really be really enthralled by the look of real hockey players. I remember the backup goalie flipped a puck up to my Dad near the end of the game to give to me. I was king.
Another year, when I was older, I remember going to see a play-off game at the Memorial Centre where the Ottawa 67’s were playing the Pete’s. The place was packed because it was late in the play-off’s and I think that translated into 5000 or so people. The most vivid memory I have was Keith Acton, one of the Pete’s go-to guys on that year’s team, playing centre against Bobby Smith. Now Acton was probably no more than 5’7 or 5’8” and Smith must have been at least 6’4”. Very funny watching them take face-off’s against one another.
I also remember a few Pete’s whose hockey fame was probably at its peak on those teams. Jim Turkewiecz was a great defenceman who went on to play in the WHA. Bob Neely went to the Leafs and like many other promising young players, found his best days were behind him shortly after he got there.