Esso Hockey since 1936Legends Of Hockey
Esso Hockey since 1936
Hooper, Tom

Hooper, Tom

Tom Hooper first played organized hockey in 1900 at the age of seventeen as a member of the local high-school team in his native Rat Portage in northwestern Ontario, near the Manitoba border. The high-school team was so good that they defeated the local senior team in an exhibition contest. Hooper and a school friend named Tommy Phillips made such an impression that day that they hooked up with the seniors, the Rat Portage Thistles of the Manitoba Senior Hockey League, in 1902. The locals won the league title that year and journeyed to Ottawa in March 1903, challenging the mighty Silver Seven for the Stanley Cup. The Thistles, with only one player over the age of 20, lost both games of the challenge in what was to become the first of nine straight Cup defenses for the Ottawas.

The Thistles challenged Ottawa again in March 1905 with an older, more experienced team. The Silver Seven were without the services of star player Frank McGee and the challengers won the first game of the series by a score of 9-3. Ottawa, with McGee back in the line up for game two, won the next two games to send the Thistles home empty-handed for a second time. However, the fates would change in January 1907 as the re-named Kenora Thistles traveled to Montreal to challenge the Wanderers, new champions of the East, for the Cup.

The Thistles finally won the Cup on this, their third attempt, by defeating Montreal 12-8 in a two-game total-goal series. Hooper accounted for three of the Thistles goals. Kenora, with a population of only 4,000, had become the smallest town ever to win the Stanley Cup. Kenora's reign was to last all of two months as the Wanderers traveled north to reclaim the Cup in late March 1907. The locals couldn't even support their team on home ice, for the poor ice conditions in Kenora resulted in the two-game series being moved to Winnipeg where the ice was better.

The Thistles folded shortly after losing to the Wanderers and Hooper followed the Cup east to Montreal, joining the Montreal AAA in time for the 1907-08 season. The AAA were destined to finish last in the Eastern Canada Amateur Hockey Association that year and Hooper jumped to the cross-town rival Wanderers for the remaining two games of the season. He went on to participate in the Wanderers' three successful Cup defenses against the Ottawa Victorias in January 1908, the Winnipeg Maple Leafs in March 1908, and the Edmonton Eskimos (with his old friend Tommy Phillips added as a ringer) in December 1908. He retired from the game prior to the start of the 1908-09 season.

Tom Hooper was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1962.

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