If you drive just over an hour and a half northeast of Toronto, you will find yourself in a community where pride in sports is not only a wish, but a lifestyle.
Although it is a small town, it has all the amenities of a big city with their own TV and radio stations, as well as a major University, and College.
The Peterborough Petes have played 62 Ontario Hockey League seasons and are the oldest continuously operating franchise in the OHL. For a small community, Peterborough has become recognized globally as being a “Junior Hockey Factory”. The city has produced more National Hockey League players (150+) than any other junior team in the world. Notable alumni include Zack Kassian, Zach Bogosian, Eric & Jordan Staal, Chris Pronger, Steve Yzerman, Bob Gainey, Mike Ricci, Tie Domi, Ryan Spooner, and Nick Ritchie. The franchise has also been home to notable coaches/managers including Scotty Bowman, Roger Neilson, Mike Keenan, Gary Green, and Dick Todd. Dick recorded 500 career victories faster than any other coach in Major Junior A hockey, accomplishing the milestone in just 813 games.
Lacrosse is just as important to this community.
The Peterborough lacrosse team has won 26 Ontario championships and 17 Mann Cups (known as the Stanley Cup of lacrosse).
Just like in hockey, the lineage of talented players coming from the Peterborough organization is long. Bobby Allen, John Grant Sr. and Jr., the Evans family, Jim Wasson, Paul Day, Jamie Batley, the Vitarelli family, and many more have come from the rich history of winning in Peterborough.
In a community of only 60,000 people, this is a testament to a winning culture of playing for the name on the front of the jersey, and playing for the pride of a region.
For the majority of the these teams lives, they have enjoyed great attendance, with sellouts (4,329 at the Memorial Areana) being regular occurrences in both hockey, and lacrosse. The community has embraced their stars as local royalty, giving even more reason for these players to stay with their local team, rather than venture off as free agents as in other professional sports.
Although in this day and age there is more movement, these lacrosse families are still firmly rooted in Peterborough, continuing the tradition, leading to a winning culture for the foreseeable future.
In a day and age where loyalty to the dollar seems to be more important than a history of winning, this community is a breath of fresh air, reminding us of all the things of yesteryear that we still hold dear.