Hockey has been part of Cumberland since the Early Years

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By Mark R. Fuller

Forms of competition and sport were important activities enjoyed during the limited leisure time for Cumberland’s early settlers. Although spending much of their time adjusting to their new environment, the first Cumberland European settlers found baseball in the summer and hockey in the winter, two sources of physical entertainment.
Games with sticks can be traced back over 4,000 years to the Egyptians and then forward. The first recorded use of the word “hockey” would come in 1773 in a book written by Richard Johnson. Early forms of the game included Bandy, which originated in England and is still played in Russia and Sweden, and “Shinny” a game derived from a Scottish contest which would become popular in Canada.
“Shinny” was played on any sheet of ice and involved two goals without any goal keepers. Requiring little equipment, boys or girls could use anything from tree branches to broom handles as sticks and pucks could range from tin cans to a piece of wood.
By 1875, a year after the first European settlers came to the Island City, the first Indoor Ice Hockey game was played in Montreal, Canada. Shortly after, in 1893, the Stanley Cup, emblematic of ice hockey club supremacy, was awarded to the Canadian amateur champions. Soon it would become the championship trophy of the NHL and the game of hockey would become known to those in our area.
A 1917 Advocate offered “Hockey Caps” to local residents at the Company Store for only 50 cents. By the pictures, it seemed to refer to what we would call a “stocking cap” today. In a December 6, 1923, the Advocate would advertise the same store selling hockey sticks for Christmas.
These hockey sticks were needed for a series of pick-up games that winter, in which Cumberland groups would challenge each other in this new sport. This entertainment for local residents would even include a Christmas Day contest.
The scene was set in the December 20, 1923, Advocate, in an article which said, “Each Sunday, a bunch of would-be hockey fans have gathered on the ice to set up two goals. The sides are mixed and sometimes very uneven, but a sense of fair play prevailed. Now, enthusiasts are talking about a game next Sunday between two teams.”
Those two teams were the “Legion” and the “City.” The “City” squad would include Bert Hines, Chester Lerdall, A.H. Miller, and C.E. Chubb among others, while among the “Legion” players were George Poukey, Elmer Lerdall, Henry Rose, and Chas Algeo.
The initial contest was won by the “City” 10 to 8. The Advocate said, “The game was hotly contested and a few rules tried out. Although there were many mistakes made, the game was a great improvement on the former mix-ups.”
On Christmas Day, 1923, a rematch took place. This time, the “Legion” got revenge, winning 8-4. A December 27, Advocate, described the game saying, “This game was the best played to date and the rules were adhered to more strictly. The game is still very ragged, but the fans are in hopes of securing enough material to build a rink before next Sunday and will stage a real game at that time, provided opponents can be secured.” The article then announced that “Barronett has been approached and will try to scare up a bunch of fellows to give the locals a tussle.”
Yes, the people of Cumberland were getting hooked on this new game.
Outdoor hockey was always dependent on the weather. Too hot or too warm were enemies of the sport. So too could be another scheduled activity. A January 3, 1924 Advocate announced that “Hockey fans have been at a great disadvantage this week as bitterly cold weather and falling snow along with the rabbit hunt put on by the K.P. have thinned the rank of players. It is hoped next week the games will again flourish.”
Soon a “City Team” would form and begin taking on other communities instead of games among themselves. A March 3, 1927, Advocate announced, “The first inter-city hockey match ever played here, between Cumberland and Rice Lake, will soon take place.” Cumberland would win that initial contest 2-0. The article would say, “Rice Lake had a fast bunch of men, but they failed to break the Cumberland defense and goalie Sirianni.” The paper added that, “It is hoped next year that other towns such as Spooner, Shell Lake, and Barron can be persuaded to play.”

From here, hockey in the city would continue to grow in Cumberland as well as other towns in the surrounding area. A rink would be built and moved around the city until being built at the Moser Field site in 1947, where it would stay for the next 50 years. A new outdoor rink and warming house was added in 1977.As time went on, many individuals and teams would take part in all age groups, with Cumberland hockey moving to another level with the arrival of Don Clark in 1960.
Clark joined John Engesether, among others, to begin building a strong youth program. Clark was a Nationally known hockey figure, who immediately started and coached Peewee and Bantam teams, arranging games across Wisconsin and Minnesota. In 1969 the Indianhead Youth Hockey League was formed and in 1970 the Cumberland Youth Hockey Association became a powerful force in the sport.
Clark also continued his involvement Nationally and would be recognized by the NHL in 1975, when he was awarded the Lester Patrick Award for his service to hockey in the United States. Clark would be a key figure in the city until his death in 1999, but not before donating $10,000.00 to the Youth Hockey Association to put towards building the Indoor Hockey facility we have today.
There have been many other important figures in the sports growth, too numerous to mention. Individuals like Stan Adler, Walt Organ, John Wackerfuss, and Tom Goldsmith are just a few of those important figures. Yes, hockey has been and still is, a part of the Island City since being first played here 100 years ago.

 

 

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Cumberland Advocate

375 2nd Ave, PO Box 637
Cumberland, WI 54829
Phone: (715) 822-4469
Hours:  8:30 AM–4:30 PM M-F

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