Gerry Berube holds a photo of himself in his hockey uniform. Berube is the last living member of the 1946 St Dom’s hockey team, when they won the state championships. Sun Journal photo by Andree Kehn

This past summer, St. Dominic Academy received a request from Memories of Maine Magazine regarding the history the school’s boys hockey team.

That seemed simple enough. The school has had three Travis Roy Award winners, three New England championships and second most state championships in the nation with 24 …

Scratch that, 25 state championships.

A shadow box in the hallway at Saint Dominic Academy in Auburn displays momento’s from the 1946 state hockey championship team. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Hold on, 25 championships? Aren’t the Saints going for 25 on Saturday? Nope, they are actually trying to win No. 26. (Lewiston, which the Saints defeated in Tuesday’s Class A North final, is second in Maine with 23 state championships.)

Nicole Adams, who works in St. Dom’s alumni department, was assigned to gather the information the magazine needed.

First, she started to go through all year books, especially those from the early years of the school. When she opened the 1946 yearbook, she found that St. Dom’s had a state championship team that had gone unrecognized

“Being new in the alumni department, I did a little more digging because I was unsure where everything was,” Adams said. “That’s basically how it all started, I ended up going through our original yearbooks.”

The magazine also asked for photos from the original team. The 1945-46 season was the first that the Saints had a varsity boys hockey team. When Adams opened that year’s yearbook, there were three pages dedicated to the hockey team and how it won the state championship, including photos and local newspaper headlines.

The Auburn Library also had one of the newspaper articles that said St. Dom’s captured the state championship.

The school has since realized that students, teachers and faculty members have been walking by a piece of memorabilia from the 1945-46 season every time they enter the Auburn campus.

“As we are speaking right now, I am looking at the plaque,” Adams said recently. “I was able to locate the plaque out back because even in the new building, people walk by it everyday and nobody picked up the fact that there’s a sweater in a shadow box on the wall. The patch on it is the 1946 state championship patch.”

Until the 1946 championship was discovered, all the documentation St. Dom’s and the Maine Principals Association stated that the Saints captured their first state championship the following season, in 1947.

When Adams compiled all the facts she gave the Maine Principals Association a call to relay the information to see if it would recognize the state championship.

Mike Burham, assistant executive director at the MPA, said the organization was impressed with the school’s findings, and because its records didn’t go back that far, the MPA decided to officially recognized the championship.

Burnham said in his 12 years working with the MPA, it’s the first time anything like this has happened, that a school has found an undocumented state championship in any sport.

UNRECOGNIZED FOR 72 YEARS

Adams asked around about why the championship went undocumented in the first place.

No one could give her or the school a clear answer, but there is a back story how it got lost in the shuffle.

Back then, there were no official playoffs. Teams played their regular season schedule and whoever had the best record at the end of the season won the state championship. The Saints’ final game that season was against Dixfield on Feb., 19, 1946, which St. Dom’s by a score of 4-2.

Each team had one loss, and Dixfield also had a tie to their record. St. Dom’s coach Brother Leonard offered Dixfield a chance to play a playoff game to decide a true champion.

“We invited them to come over (in Lewiston) to play,” Gerry Berube, the last living member of 1946 team told the Sun Journal. “They had that right. Brother Leonard didn’t want to win (by forfeit) for his first championship. We gave them all the chances (to play that final game). It was a state trooper coaching the (Dixfield) team, too.”

According to the game story that ran in the Lewiston Evening Journal on Feb. 20, 1946, Brother Leonard told the paper that Dixfield’s Coach Holmes (no first names were included in the story) said the championship was only “an imaginary thing anyway and not worth fighting over.”

The newspaper story also mentioned that Dixfield was concerned about the lack of open dates as the season was coming to a close.

Berube believes a fight between the fans during the final regular season contest also played a part in Dixfield not wanting to play a playoff game.

Because of the fight St. Dom’s players couldn’t use Dixfield’s school to change into their street clothes after the game, and they were escorted to the team bus in their hockey gear. Officials had to retrieve the players’ clothes from the locker room for them.

No championship game meant no championship ceremony to hand out the state championship plaque.

Berube was a defenseman and one of two freshmen on the team. His teammates and he didn’t have ambitions of starting one of the greatest dynasties in school boy hockey in the nation, they just wanted to play hockey.

“We never saw the trophy because it was never presented to us at the game,” Berube said. “How we got it, I have no idea. We didn’t think of that, all we wanted to do is play, that’s all we were interested. The season was short, we applied to go to Boston for the New England tournament.”

There was no New England Championship from 1943-46 because of World War II.

While players didn’t receive a plaque in a ceremony, they did have those varsity jackets with the championship patches.

Berube said they weren’t school-issued.

A plaque from the 1946 state championship hockey team was found in a file cabinet recently. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

“This was all done by the outsiders,” Berube said. “Our first hockey sticks, brand new, were bought to go to a tournament in Providence the first year. We got brand new hockey sticks, which we never had before. We were thrilled. That was bought by outsiders. I believe, but I am not sure, but I believe it was the (Musical-Literary) Club. The Musical-Literary Club was built with members that used to (be in a building on Lisbon Street).”

Berube believes the club purchased the sweaters around that time.

HONORING 1946 TEAM

At this year’s St. Dom’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony during Thanksgiving weekend, the school decided to honor Berube and the rest of the 1946 championship team.

“We did make sure that Gerry Berube was in fact was recognized and honored at the Hall of Fame this past fall,” Adams said. “He got to see the plaque, the current St. Dom’s hockey team attended. They were all there to recognize him as well.”

They also presented him a personal plaque.

“I was surprised, I have never seen that trophy,” Berube said. “They presented that to me at the Hall of Fame. …They said, ‘We have a surprise for you.’ I said, ‘A surprise?’ What can they surprise me with? It was that trophy.

“I had never seen it. It was dull, but they did a good job refinishing it. They said they weren’t done yet and they were going to do a better job.”

For Bobby Parker, the current St. Dom’s coach, it was special for the team to hear from someone who helped start the Saints’ dynasty.

“You always hear about the history about St. Dom’s, the history about the school itself,” Parker said. “To actually see people who were a part of it and were responsible for a lot of tradition in front of you and to listen to some of their stories, was moving and opened our eyes — it made us proud to be members of the St. Dom’s hockey team.”

A shadow box in the hallway at Saint Dominic Academy in Auburn displays momento’s from the 1946 state hockey championship team. (Sun Journal photo by Russ Dillingham) Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

 

A plaque from the 1946 state championship hockey team was found in a file cabinet recently. (Sun Journal photo by Russ Dillingham) Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal


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