August 2, 2019
The Warriors: a family like no other
Doug Colbon (BMath ’74) reflects on the friendships he formed with his hockey team leading up to the 1974 CIAU Championship.
Doug Colbon (BMath ’74) reflects on the friendships he formed with his hockey team leading up to the 1974 CIAU Championship.By Doug Colbon (BMath ’74) Alumnus
It was the spring of 1972. I was attending Michigan Technology University on an academic/hockey scholarship and in my second year. I had not made the varsity team that year and felt a void wasn’t being filled in my university life. I made an important decision to leave MTU and applied to Waterloo for mathematics and varsity hockey. I was accepted and granted over two years’ credits, and began my memorable two years at Waterloo. The University reinstated my Descartes scholarship, which I was offered in 1970 and was a blessing financially. Housing was an issue as the Villages were full, so I stayed with Carl Totzke, then Athletic Director, until I met up with a group of hockey guys who were trying out from Kirkland and New Liskeard. My roommate for the next two years was “Doc” Smylie and we formed a long-lasting friendship.
We lived in an apartment just off Columbia and as fortune would have it, two other players, defencemen like ourselves, lived next door: Randy Stubel and Frank Staubitz. We all became very close that first year. But as fate would have it, my hockey year didn’t go as well as expected. It was disappointing, but school was good and the math program outstanding.
It was the next year that was the most memorable: 1973/74. With new friends and teammates, my graduating year and my final year with the Waterloo Warriors hockey team began. The team was very young but very talented, led by our goaltending tandem of Jake Dupuis and Doug Snoddy. The team wasn’t given much of a chance at winning a CIAU championship as U of Toronto was the perennial favourite, led by future NHL coach Tom Watt. Nobody (except, of course, us) knew that the bonds we had with each other, whether we won or lost, were becoming stronger and stronger as the year progressed. We socialized together as a group, played cards together, went to concerts and shows together, made treks to Breslau for steak and a beverage each week and just loved each other’s company. Of course, there was practice and school, but even then you could find us meeting up with each other after practice or at the student centre. After games, we all went to house parties with our girlfriends, who I may say are now the wives of a majority of the players. This group was SPECIAL! It went way beyond the hockey and the winning. It was a big family like no other that I have ever been involved with.
We went on to win the OUAA over Western and beat Calgary to get to the final versus Sir George Williams. It was nationally televised by the CBC and as fortune would have it, we overcame a 4-2 deficit to win 6-5 in overtime. Winning was great, but to be able to celebrate with such a special group of men and women was even more memorable, even though some of those memories have become rather vague or even changed over the years. Once in a while a new one emerges, as this group has kept in touch for the past 45 years, meeting, reminiscing and enjoying each other’s company as we did this past June.
I really believe that the closeness and special bonds that we had with each other were the real reason we persevered and won the first CIAU Championship for Waterloo in 1974. Seven members have been inducted into the Waterloo Warriors Hall of Fame from that team, along with the whole team in 1996. The members are Bob McKillop, coach; Roy Wuertele, manager and our unofficial social convener; Brian Gastaldi, trainer/physio; Mike Guimond, captain; Cam Crosby, assistant captain; Ron Hawkshaw, all Canadian; and Jake Dupuis, goaltender. With this article you will see the original 1974 picture and a present-day picture of the team, 2019, in the same original order. We have lost two special teammates, Jim Nickleson, assistant captain, and my roomie, Doc Smylie. I could and should name all the members of that team and share a story about each one, but my words unfortunately are limited in this article (or, lucky for them). We all look forward to our 50th reunion in 2024, a milestone for us and definitely for the University of Waterloo.
Doug Colbon (BMath '74) is a graduate of the Faculty of Mathematics. He and his teammates returned to Waterloo in June to celebrate the 45th anniversary of their CIAU Championship win.