Prior to the 1974-75 hockey season a number of parents in Mount Pearl were carrying their boys out to St. John's to play minor hockey with the Avalon Minor Hockey Association. This meant that there were a number of other children residing in Mount Pearl who did not attend the Avalon Consolidated system that did not have a game of organized hockey.
Bruce Styles, who was one of these parents, had a great idea that he thought he would pursue. Bruce contacted a number of parents to see if there was enough interest to form a Mount Pearl Minor Hockey Association. There was a great deal of interest shown and a meeting of the interested parents was held at the town office on June 6, 1974 where the first Executive was elected. The Executive consisted of Bruce Styles as President, Ralph Neil as Vice President, Fred Burns as Treasurer and Gordon Lidstone as Secretary.
At the first official meeting the Association decided to rent ice time. They booked the only ice available - Prince of Wales Arena from 4.30-6.30 am, Sunday mornings. They played there for the next two and one half years of the association with a handful of teams.
Next, the Association formed the Hockey Dads and Hockey Moms associations as fundraising arms of the main body. Initially, fundraising consisted of bottle drives, ticket sweeps, and mobile canteens that operated at local functions. Later they operated a canteen at the new Health Sciences Centre construction site. The Hockey Moms executive included Lorraine Stanley as President, Menie Styles as Vice President, Nina Neil as Treasurer, and Alice Howell as Secretary. The Hockey Dads executive included Jim Keough as President, Dan Coombs as Vice President, Harold Moores as Treasurer, and Tom Squires as Secretary.
The Association next examined the possibility of having a rink built in the municipality of Mount Pearl. At such time a full-fledged house league and all-star system could be implemented. A newly appointed Arena Committee (Bruce Styles, Neil Winsor, Ron Hall, Mike Healey, Gerry Taylor, Ralph Neil, Eric Reid, Fred Burns, Albert Stanley and Bill Wiseman) discussed three possibilities: an open air rink; an enclosed building with natural freezing; and a full enclosed building with artificial ice. With word that a local brewery had several old freezing plants available the Arena Committee chose the third option. Funding for the new arena came mainly from Government, with contributions from the Royal Canadian Legion (Mount Pearl Branch), Mount Pearl Lions Club, Mount Pearl Kinsmen Club and the Mount Pearl Minor Hockey Association. Smallwood Arena, completed debt free, was officially opened in January 1977, with Mayor Kell Ashford and the Honourable Neil Winsor, MHA, presiding.
Well known Newfoundland born hockey player George Faulkner was hired as the arena's first manager. Faulkner, a standout with Canada's national team, played professionally as well as in the Newfoundland Senior Hockey League.
Soon after opening, the arena was turned over to the Town of Mount Pearl. The Mount Pearl Minor Hockey Association agreed to operate and manage it for five years. This agreement continued for fifteen years at which time an Arena Management Committee was formed. The Minor Hockey Association is represented on that committee. The Mount Pearl Minor Hockey Association was instrumental in lobbying the City of Mount Pearl for the construction of the Glacier. MPMHA contributed $100,000.00 towards its construction.
Following the opening of the first arena, the MPMHA entered into an agreement with the newly formed Mount Pearl Referees Association and continues to have a great working relationship with that group to this day. The first Referees Executive consisted of Albert Stanley as President, Don Kelly as Vice President, Dave Murphy as Treasurer and Garry Chaytor as Secretary. The MPRA is probably the finest referee association in the province and their members have refereed at all calibers of hockey provincially, up to and including the Allen Cup Playoffs. They have produced zone Co-ordinators, clinic instructors, and their first Vice President currents holds the post of Referee in Chief with HNL. Two females in this group have officiated at the National Level as well.
Smallwood Arena included space on the second and third floors where the Hockey Dads operated a bingo. In later years, bingo was moved to various locations in Mount Pearl. The Association eventually ceased this type of fundraising. The Dads organize and run the annual New Year's Eve Ball and the annual equipment exchange. In recent years they operated the lounge at the Glacier. The Hockey Moms operated canteens at the Centrac Building and the Reid Centre. They still run the canteens at both Glacier 1 and Glacier 2. The construction of a second ice surface at the Glacier meant that the Smallwood Arena would be retired as a hockey rink at the closing of the 2010-11 season. The Moms have sold Nevada tickets at all bingos and cater to annual awards banquet and private gatherings. The financial contributions by both the Moms and Dads to the parent association help make the operation a success.
After bingo started in 1978, a point system was initiated. Volunteer bingo and canteen workers, coaches, referees, scorekeepers and executive members received points redeemable for the next year's registration. This point system continues today and is a model being looked at by other Associations to help reward their volunteers. Local civic organizations and the provincial hockey association have recognized many of these volunteers for their outstanding contributions.
One of the most successful hockey fundraisers, the Booster Draw, was introduced in 1985. This was an idea of Albert Clarke who organized and managed the draw until the 2011 season. The Booster Draw was initially set up for All-Star teams only, however, since 1992 House League teams also participate in this project. The booster draws stopped in the 2012-13 season with the restructuring of the all-star program on the Avalon Peninsula. However, it will hopefully be resurrected under the Sport Alliance for the 2013-14 season.
The Association has endorsed the National Coaching Program. Many of our coaches have attended these clinics, attaining various coaching levels. In addition to coaching our own teams, this training has allowed the Association to operate a first class summer hockey school and full power skating and novice skating programs. Some coaching graduates later instructed in that very same program. The Newfoundland and Labrador Amateur Hockey Association appointed one graduate Head Coach of the provincial ladies team.
After the hockey program started in the new arena, Gerry Taylor was appointed Technical Director. Gerry prepared three handbooks that coaches used while running their practices: one for the novice division, another for atom, and the third for peewee, bantam and midget divisions. These were used for many seasons, eventually being replaced by Hockey Canada manuals and guidelines.
The Association has entered tournaments in Germany, the United States, and in all Canadian provinces. For years our PeeWee Major teams entered the Quebec International Winter Carnival Tournament, playing teams from the world over and often returning with medals. MPMHA continues to send teams to tournaments throughout the Atlantic Provinces and across Canada.
Since 1977 we have successfully hosted national, national regional, provincial, and many of our own All-Star and House League tournaments. These tournaments started at the Smallwood Arena and they continue to thrive at the Glacier 1 and 2 since the closure of Smallwood. With the addition of the second ice surface at the Glacier we now host 25-35 team tournaments with ease, all at the same complex. MPMHA has hosted an Annual All-Star Christmas Tournament with the 20th Annual being held this past season, which attracted 32 teams in the Atom, PeeWee and Bantam divisions. This tournament is now held in memory of Cecil Stoyles, a long time volunteer with MPMHA.
Our Association has been used as a role model. At hockey conventions across the nation it has been singled out for its success. Associations throughout Canada have requested copies of our constitutions. Former executive members have held leading executive positions with junior and senior hockey associations and on the Provincial Hockey Association. Our Association has produced many talented players. They have played with mainland teams at the university level and Junior A and B levels. Two have gone on to play in the NHL.