Breaking the Ice for Newfoundlanders in the NHL

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Updated: November 30, 2012

Every hockey player dreams of making it to the big leagues and for the vast majority of players, that’s all it is – a dream.

In recent days we have many Newfoundland and Labrador born players playing in the NHL.  Several have very successful careers and have even raised the Stanley Cup.  None of this would be possible if it wasn’t for one player in particular breaking into the big league the very first time.

Alex Faulkner was that player.

Born in Bishop’s Falls, Newfoundland, Alex Faulker played senior hockey for the Conception Bay Cee Bee All Stars, leading the league for two years in both goals and points.  As luck would have it, Faulkner’s team played an exhibition game against a St. John’s senior team that was coached by former Toronto Maple Leafs player, Howie Meeker.  Shortly after, Faulkner was invited to play for the Rochester Americans, the farm team at that time for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Faulkner showed his talent for playing and during his second season in the AHL he racked up 73 points in just 63 games and was called up for a single NHL game with the parent Maple Leafs.  He must have turned heads with other teams as well because shortly after in an intra-league draft on June 4, 1962, Faulkner was snapped up by the Detroit Red Wings when he was left unprotected by the Toronto squad.

During his rookie season, Faulkner scored 10 goals and added 10 assists while playing on a hard checking line that included Larry Jeffrey and Bruce MacGregor.  When later mated with Andre Pronovost during the playoffs, Faulkner stepped up his game, netting 5 goals in just 8 playoff games, two of which were game winners against the Chicago Blackhawks, allowing the Wings to eliminate the favoured Hawks.

The Wings went on to face the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Stanley Cup finals but lost the series, managing to win only a single game.  Faulkner however, picked up 2 goals in that game, including the game winner.

In the 1963-64 season, Faulkner returned to the Wings but injuries kept him sidelined most of the season.  He was invited back for the 1964-65 season but opted instead to stay home and play for Cee Bees for the next two seasons.  He finished his career in 1971-72 with the St. John’s Capitals.

Alex Faulkner remained active in amateur hockey for some time in the province but his influence and reputation in the NHL paved the way for more players.  His success has given hope to the many younger players who have worked hard and proven that Newfoundlanders can compete at the highest level.

Alex Faulkner broke the ice and cemented his place in Newfoundland hockey history.

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