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“Houghton: The Cradle of Professional Hockey” | News, Sports, Jobs


William Sproule’s book, “Houghton: The Birthplace of Professional Hockey,” is the star of the December 9 Authors’ Event hosted by the UP Notable Book Club. The event will take place via Zoom. (Photo courtesy of the Upper Peninsula Editors and Authors Association)

MARQUETTE – Hockey seasons are underway, which means many fans are getting a dose of their favorite sport at their favorite rinks. However, anyone who wants to learn a bit more about hockey – and maybe just a bit of regional history – should attend the UP Notable Book Club’s December 9 event on the book titled “Houghton: The birthplace of professional hockey. “

The Crystal Falls Community District Library, which schedules author events with the Upper Peninsula Publishers and Authors Association, with a focus on the UP Outstanding Book List winners, will feature William Sproule whose authoritative history book on the birth of professional hockey in the land of copper makes a bold claim to his birthplace, said the UPPAA.

The event is open free of charge to all UP residents. It will begin at 7 p.m. on December 9 via Zoom. Contact Evelyn Gathu in advance at [email protected] or 906-875-3344. UPPAA recommends that attendees borrow a copy of the book from their local library or purchase it in advance from a local bookseller to get the most out of the event.

Sproule is Professor Emeritus at Michigan Tech University where he taught transportation engineering, transit, airport planning, and hockey history. He is a member of several associations including the Historical Society of Michigan and the Society for International Hockey Research.

Sproule is co-author of the airport manual, “Airport planning and design”, author of several conference proceedings on automated people transfer systems and author of several other local books: “The trams of the land of copper” and “Michigan Tech Hockey: 00 years of memories. “

At the Dec. 9 event, Sproule plans to discuss Houghton’s hockey book, but will likely be tied to Michigan Tech’s hockey history, the UPPAA said.

UPPAA President Victor R. Volkman wrote on “Houghton: The Cradle of Professional Hockey” in the book review UP.

“If you have a taste for hockey nostalgia, the local history of the Copper Country, or just love one of Michigan’s most popular winter pastimes, you’ll enjoy” Houghton: The Birthplace of Professional Hockey “from William J. Sproule for humanity it brings to the players and their cold winter sagas of the early 1900s”, said Volkman.

Volkman said Sproule tells the story of a Canadian born dentist and Houghton entrepreneur, Jack “Doc” Gibson, changed hockey by openly paying players to come to the Copper Country to play hockey.

Gibson partnered with local businessman James Dee to recruit the best Canadian players and pay them to compete for the Portage Lake hockey team, making them the very first hockey team. professional, said Volkman.

Sproule’s book focuses on the 1900-06 period when the Upper Peninsula in general and Houghton in particular dominated the early seasons of professional hockey on that continent, said Volkman, who noted that the book includes full reprints of reporting. contemporary sports and site photographs. , the players, their shirts and equipment.

“Sproule dives deep into game statistics so you can learn the names of players and their performance game by game. “ said Volkman.

He also wrote: “Surely you are now wondering how and why this happened in Houghton, as opposed to Minneapolis, Detroit or even Montreal? Since hockey was already Canada’s national pastime, why wouldn’t they have the first professional hockey teams? As it turns out, the Ontario Hockey Association dominated the sport and his emphasis on amateur teams ultimately created an economic opportunity for Houghton.

“The city was ideally located with rail links, thanks to the copper mining industry, to move players from Canada to the United States and from that advantage, being able to field a team to challenge American teams as far as Pennsylvania. . The OHA ethos, reserved for amateurs, was purely intended to keep working class scum from coming off the ice so that hockey could remain a gentleman’s sport.

Sproule’s book, Volkman said, excels in detail in the second half of the book where he dissects every game from the 1904, 1905, and 1906 seasons when the Copper Country teams ruled the professional leagues. Statistics for all International Hockey League teams are provided, including Calumet, Portage Lake, Michigan Soo, Canadian Soo and Pittsburgh.

UPPAA said the book can be purchased at Copper World in Calumet, Grandpa’s Barn in Copper Harbor, Michigan Made in Houghton and Marquette, the North Wind Books at Finlandia University in Hancock, Jim’s Foodmart in Houghton and Keweenaw National Historic Park in Calumet. Copper World and Michigan Tech bookstores are the best places to order the book online, the UPPAA said.

Snowbound Books in Marquette has indicated that it plans to transport the book.

More information on the UP Notable, UP Book Review, and UPPAA Book List can be found at www.UPNotable.com. The UPPAA supports authors and publishers who live or write on the Upper Peninsula and is a Michigan nonprofit with more than 100 members, many of whose books are featured on the organization’s website at address www.uppaa.org. The UPPAA welcomes the membership and participation of anyone connected with the UP and interested in writing.

Christie Mastric can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. His email address is [email protected]

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