SPORT | Hockey
POSITION | Goalie
YEAR OF INDUCTION | 2019
Al Bennett was born in Hamilton where he began playing hockey. For over twenty years he was an outstanding goaltender on several teams that played at a very high level of competition from Junior “B”, to Junior “A”, to OHA Senior “A” and “B” and for five years, professionally in the International Hockey League (IHL). He was considered by many, teammates and opponents alike, to be one of the best goaltenders of his era.
1947 to 1950
played 3 years Jr. “B” hockey with the Hamilton Aerovox winning the Sutherland Cup in 1947-48 as best Jr. “B” team in Ontario
in 1950, moved up to play Jr. “A: to play for Stratford where he was a teammate of George Aitken (CSHOF ’02)
1951 to 1968
played senior and IHL hockey
in 1951, began his senior career with Sr. “A” Hamilton Tigers where he stayed for 3 years
in 1954, came to Chatham to begin 31 – year working career with Union Gas while playing hockey for the Sr. “A” Chatham Maroons, Sr. “B” Wallaceburg Hornets, IHL Toledo Mercurys and later with Sr. “A” Oakville Oaks and Woodstock Alcans
1959-60 playing Sr. “B” for Wallaceburg Hornets won best goalie award
1959-60 when Maroons won the Allan Cup as Canadian Senior Champions, Al was ineligible to play for them because he was on a pro card with Toledo of the IHL
in November and early December of 1960, shared goaltending duties with Boat Hurley as the Maroons played nine exhibition games in Sweden and then the Soviet Union becoming the first Canadian team to ever play in that country
1962 - 63 – playing for the Sr. “A” Maroons, was chosen as league all-star, won Nat Turofsky Trophy as league’s best goalie, based on lowest goals against average, and won Andy Bellemer Memorial Award given for sportsmanship and exemplary play in the Ontario Hockey Association (OHA) Sr. “A” league
In Al’s time, in the top three North American hockey leagues, there were only 6 National Hockey League (NHL) teams, 8 American Hockey League (AHL) teams and 6 IHL teams and all teams only carried 1 goaltender. Competition for jobs was fierce at all levels but Al was a senior hockey and IHL hockey goaltender for seventeen years sometimes under “extreme” conditions. In 1956-57, he played all 65 league and playoff games for the Toledo Mercurys while working in Chatham and commuting to games in the United States, making every game a “road game”. Al was a “stand up” goalie who did not wear a face mask until his last year while playing in Woodstock.
Al and his wife, Margie, raised a daughter, Jaymie, and three sons, Mike, Rob and Brian. He died in Chatham in 1993 in his 62nd year.