As a juvenile goalie, Ivan McLelland played in front of 2,000 spectators at Maple Leaf Gardens.
His career accomplishments will forever be seen in a sports hall of fame for Timmins’s top athletes that mimics the historical arena.
“I can’t believe my name is right up there with so many of these top-flight NHL guys,” said McLelland, referring to players such as Bill Barilko, Don Lever and Frank Mahovolich.
On the 60th anniversary of the Penticton V’s 1955 world championship win, which McLelland was a big part of, his hockey career came full circle in late June. Returning to his hometown in Ontario originally known as the Porcupine camp until its amalgamation in 1973, McLelland was voted into the Timmins Sports Heritage Hall of Fame at McIntyre Arena.
McLelland, 83, described the newly built hall of fame conference room as a “miniature Maple Leaf Gardens.”
McLelland said it’s impressive walking into the room. Built with oak, the room is decorated by beautiful plaques and there is a picture of McLelland with his story. Above him is a photo of the Black Line of Ossie and Herb Carnegie and Vincent McIntyre.
“I’m proud to be there on the same wall with those guys,” said McLelland. “They were such fabulous athletes who dominated the Mines League. Puck was like it was on a string. They didn’t want you to have it, you didn’t get it. That’s how good they were.”
McLelland and the Black Line are part of the first induction class with 60 athletes, groups and clubs. Those athletes remained from a list of 300 that local media asked the public to put forward. McLelland received the most votes.
McLelland said for northern Ontario, this is a big deal. The area he grew up in was known as a factory for producing hockey players and other top athletes.
“I’m glad that I went,” said McLelland, who wasn’t sure before if he would attend the ceremony. “I realized how important it was for them.”
The recognition means a lot to McLelland, who once tried to crack the pro level with the Vancouver Canucks, which led to him coming to Penticton.
“To be part of that is really something for me,” he said.
The achievement ranks high for McLelland to be recognized from the peers in that area.
“It doesn’t get any better,” he said. “It was wonderful.”