Cal Dunville was a fierce competitor who had all the great tools of a great hockey player so it was no big surprise he would earn induction into the Newfoundland and Labrador Hockey Hall of Fame.
He won two Herder Memorial championships with the Stephenville Jets and was a key addition to the 1986 Corner Brook Royals team that won the Allan Cup.
His legacy as one of the best leaders in the game with the C on his jersey will be recognized by the organization he loved to play the game for when his No. 3 jersey is retired Saturday night before the Jets West Coast Senior Hockey League game against the Royals at the Stephenville Dome.
Dunville lives in Marysville, Ont., where he operates a golf course, but he still makes annual visits back to the Rock because he bought his mom’s home in Kippens a few years back so he could justify returning home every year.
He got a call a few months ago from Jets general manager Art Barry asking if he would be coming home this winter because the organization wanted to get his No. 3 jersey hung up at the Stephenville Dome.
Dunville was coming home so the ceremony was scheduled for Saturday night.
Barry admired Dunville as a hockey player and considered him one of the best leaders he ever seen command a hockey team and he would argue with anybody that his former captain was among the best local players to ever play senior hockey in the province.
“Cal knew the game so well and he had a lot of respect from the hockey players as a captain,” Barry said.
Dunville wore his heart on his sleeve. He didn’t like to lose, but he always forgot about the game when it was over and got ready for the next one.
He also didn’t mind calling out players in the dressing room if he thought they weren’t giving it 100 per cent every shift or were taking silly penalties that were hurting the team.
“He just had that command and he had the respect,” Barry said.
Dunville could score goals and feather nifty passes with some of the best pivots in the game during the 1980s when senior hockey featured a quality brand of hockey a handful of local players thrown in the mix of imported talented from across the country.
Hayward Young was a teammate of Dunville who had to pick up for the captain who often found himself in hot water on the ice because of his mouth. Dunville was a vocal player who had his share of chirping episodes throughout his career.
Young said Dunville impressed him with his sheer determination and willingness to win, and he considered his friend the heart and soul of the Jets in the heyday of senior hockey in this province.
“He wanted to win every game. He was as determined as much as any player on the ice,” Young said.
Dunville appreciates the gesture by the Jets because he got to play the game he loves and he met so many great people along the way.
He said it’s always an honour when the team you played for decides to recognize your contribution by retiring your jersey so he’s looking forward to the evening.
The thing that he takes pride most when looking back on his career is the fact he played hard every game and left everything on the ice when it was over.
He learned early in his career that if you didn’t match the intensity of your opponent eventually the other guy was going to prevail.
He remembers the look in the eye of Royals captain Terry Gillam when he played against him. He saw how Gillam was all business on the ice and willing to do whatever it took to get an edge on the opponent so he took the same approach.
“These guys are playing for keeps, so play hard for 60 minutes and may the best man win kind of deal,” he said of his mindset when he stepped on the ice.
He loved beating the Royals and got a kick out of the fact Corner Brook fans hated him when he did, but he also appreciates the Corner Brook side for adding him to the roster for two runs at the Allan Cup and how the fans embraced him as one of their own.
It was those two years that will also stand out for him.
He was a member of the Royals team that blew a 3-0 lead against the Thunder Bay Twins during the 1985 Allan Cup in Corner Brook. The Twins racked up four wins in a row to win the series and it was a devastating moment for all hands.
“I still think about it to this day,” Dunville said.
One year later, however, the Royals would bounce back to win the Allan Cup on the road, sweeping the Nelson Maple Leafs in four-straight games, a series that for most people was just formality because they felt the Cup was really won weeks before when the Royals ousted the Flamboro Mott’s Clamatos — a team featuring former NHlers Rocky Saginuk and Stan Jonathan — in the Eastern final.
“It took the sting out of that loss but it still sticks with you,” he said.
Did he ever think about how he would look back on his career if the Royals didn’t get redemption in 1986?
“I wouldn’t be able to live with myself,” he said.