Hespeler’s First NHL Player

by Nov 30, 2022Turner Tales0 comments

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by Lary Turner

For this “tale”, I would like to flashback to Hespeler’s first NHL player (one of the first professional players from this area).

Clarence Dolly DolsonClarence “Dolly” Dolson was born May 23, 1897 in Hespeler, the son of Mr. and Mrs. William Dolson. His childhood home was located on the site now occupied by St. Andrews (Hespeler) Presbyterian Church.

“Dolly” Dolson was a very good all-round athlete. In addition to hockey during the winter, he starred as an excellent catcher and hitter with the Galt Intermediate Rangers baseball team during the summer. He began his hockey career as a goalie with the Galt Juniors and backstopped the team to the Ontario Junior Championship in 1915. (Second from left in picture).


Galt Juniors 1914-1915

Enlisting in the Canadian Armed Forces during WW1, he was sent overseas in 1916 and was decorated with the Distinguished Service Medal for outstanding military service. Upon discharge at the end of the war, he returned to civilian life and joined the Galt Terriers of the Big Six Hockey League.

Securing a job with Canadian National Railways at Stratford Ontario, he accepted an offer to play goal for the Stratford Nationals of the Big Six League. It was during the League championship game in 1926 at Detroit Olympia that “Dolly” was scouted by Jack Adams of the Detroit Cougars. (Note: Due to the extremely warm weather in Kitchener, the final championship game was held in Detroit, Stratford Nationals against the Kitchener Greenshirts). Adams offered “Dolly” a professional contract as Detroit’s second-string goalie.

Midway through the 1927 training camp, he became their first-string goalie. He starred in goal for three years before the team changed its name to the Detroit Falcons, and it was another year before the team became the Detroit Red Wings.

During his professional career, Dolson holds the distinction of having the all-time lowest goals-against average for Detroit, and also established an NHL record; in a 44-game schedule, “Dolly” Dolson played 40 games and had 10 shutouts, a record that stood for many years until broken by the great Terry Sawchuk a generation later. In 1932, he joined the semi-professional London Tecumsehs and ended his hockey career in 1933 with the Cleveland Barons. During his playing career he faced many of the greatest players in NHL history, many of whom have been inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Clarence “Dolly” Dolson passed away August 19, 1976 at Stratford Ontario. He was survived by his wife the former Mary Jardine, a son Jack, two sisters and two grandchildren.

He was inducted into the Cambridge Sports Hall of Fame in 2014.


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