WESTVILLE — Gus Fahey is wondering where the time went.
“I can’t believe it’s 50 years,” he said, recalling his playing hockey for the St. Francis Xavier X-Men, who represented Nova Scotia at the first Canada Winter Games in 1967 in Quebec City.
Fahey explained the oddity of a university team representing Nova Scotia in hockey, even though only half the players on the roster were from Nova Scotia.
What might have been a dilemma regarding how to assemble a team to represent the province was a simple one, he said.
Records show the X-Men iced a formidable team that had won its first of three straight Maritime intercollegiate championships in 1965-66. The X-Men won 17 straight games and scored at least 10 goals in five games before suffering a 6-4 loss to the University of Toronto in the Canadian Intercollegiate final.
It was Fahey’s second season of his four-year stint with the X-Men while he was pursuing a physical education degree. He scored three goals in a game that season and ended with 13 goals and 16 assists.
“We qualified to represent Nova Scotia after we won the Nova Scotia section of the Maritime league in 1965-66,” he said. “A couple of years before 1967, the idea surfaced.”
One of the X-Men’s lopsided wins was by an 11-0 score against the University of Prince Edward Island’s predecessor, St. Dunstan’s University. SDU ended up representing P.E.I. at the ’67 Games.
Besides Fahey, Pictou County players on the X-Men at the Games were goalie Richie MacPherson and Kevin Murphy from New Glasgow, who were added to the team.
The X-Men won two and tied two before losing to 8-2 St. Dunstan’s in the medal round. They defeated Alberta 8-4 and Yukon 8-0 while tying Quebec 5-5 and Manitoba 4-4.
The late Rev. George Kehoe was coaching the X-Men at the Games. He retired from coaching the team after the 1967-68 season.
“He took it hard,” Fahey said. “I think we were in the best shape of any of the teams at the Games. We had the conditioning and the motivation. We had a goal to go to the Canada Games, but (St. Dunstan’s) had a good team. Afterward we knew we underachieved.”
Fahey played in all three Canadian university championships and followed in 1966-67 with 14 goals and 21 assists and in 1967-68 with seven goals and 14 assists.
The X-Men found some solace when they advanced to the Canadian Intercollegiate Championships in 1966-67, losing 7-4 to Toronto and defeating Sir George Williams of Montreal 6-3.
Fahey had four assists as the X-Men defeated the Saskatchewan Huskies 8-2 in the bronze medal game.
He says he’s glad the Canada Games concept has continued for the benefit of young people in Pictou County and elsewhere.
“I think it’s good for everyone in Canada, especially in Nova Scotia,” he said. “We were not considered so highly when I was there. Now we’re among the best in Canada and it gives kids in Pictou county a chance to compete nationally. It’s also raised the level of coaching and training in terms of psychology, fitness and strategy.”
“It helps athletes get to be better,” he said. “We’re more likely to make friends and appreciate those friendships can last a lifetime.”
Gus Fahey holds the St. FX yearbook while wearing the blazer he and members of the X-Men wore to the 1967 Canada Winter Games while representing Nova Scotia in Quebec City. (Goodwin photo)