WESTVILLE — Fifty years ago, Gus Fahey was completing his four-year hockey career with the St. Francis Xavier X-Men.
As the 2017-18 X-Men were immersed in their first playoff round, Fahey was able to remember the seasons he played for the team from 1964-65 through 1967-68.
The X-Men have been successful under head coach and former player Brad Peddle.
But Fahey joined the X-Men after they were a powerhouse in university hockey for years. Rev. Leo McKenna and Rev. Andy Hogan coached the X-Men when Rev. George Kehoe played for them. Kehoe became the X-Men’s head coach two seasons before Fahey arrived.
Fahey said he admired how Kehoe looked after the team and got the players in shape for the hockey season.
“I guess you’d say he was a players’ coach — the players wanted to play for him,” Fahey said. “He really cared for all of us and was very respectful to all the players.”
The X-Men’s home rink was on campus when it was only a fraction of its current area. The rink was small and intimate and a focal point for students and community residents.
“That was a special time (at the) St. FX rink,” Fahey said. “You could just feel it on campus. The whole floor (of students in his dorm) would go to the game.”
According to the book about the varsity hockey team called 75 Years of Hockey, the X-Men compiled a 14-2 record in 1964-65.
Fahey played left wing for the X-Men when it boasted enormous talent in goal on defence and among forwards. University hockey was an adjustment for him.
“I was fighting every practice to make the third (forward) line, but after the first couple of games I played steady,” he said. “I had to get used to the speed of the game and the strength of the players.”
Tom Purser and Ritchie MacPherson shared goaltending duties, while Stan Cook was a rushing defenceman with nine goals and eight assists.
Fahey collected five goals and nine assists, while Chi Chi Farenzena led the team with 18 goals and 16 assists.
The X-Men had been invariably Nova Scotia and Maritime intercollegiate champs, but 1964-65 was the second straight season the X-Men were left out.
They were Maritime champions in 1965-66 with a 17-1 overall record while Farenzena amassed 36 goals and 25 assists. Fahey had 13 goals and 16 assists and scored three goals in one game.
Fahey’s totals were 14 goals and 21 assists and he had another three-goal game in 1966-67 when the X-Men won a second straight Maritime title.
Injuries took their toll on the 1967-68 X-Men, but they once again were maritime champs. It was also the year Saint Mary’s University joined the conference. Fahey ended with seven goals and 14 assists.
Gus Fahey holds a variation of the famed ‘X’ from when he played hockey for the St. Francis Xavier X-Men. (Goodwin photo)