The late Clarence J. Steele, was a native of Summerside, Prince Edward Island. “Windy”, as he was affectionately known, had a long and distinguished hockey career which began at a very young age and continued through his later years.
“Windy” Steele’s greatest ambition as a youngster was to become a hockey player. At thirteen years of age, he was a standout with Summerside High School in interscholastic competition. At fourteen, he really got his big start, in a game with the Summerside Crystals against the Victoria Unions, scoring once to help the Crystals to victory in a regularly scheduled league game.
“Windy” was a regular with the Crystals before he reached his fifteenth birthday, but his talents were soon sought after by other clubs. In the 1933-34 season, the free-wheeling speedy “Windy” Steele lined up with the Charlottetown Junior Abbies, a team that was to set maritime junior hockey history. The Abbies won the Maritime Junior Championship, and then made history when they became the only maritime club to defeat the Quebec winners. They lost out to the Toronto St. Michael’s Juniors in the Eastern Canadian Championship. St. Mike’s went on to win the Dominion Championship, and four members of that team played with the Toronto Maple Leafs of the N.H.L. the next season. These players were Art Jackson, “Pep” Kelly, Reggie Hamilton and Nick Metz.
Sixteen year old “Windy” Steele joined Baltimore of the United States Amateur League the next season, and before he completed the season, his contract was bought by Hershey, the minor team of the Boston Bruins. In 1936-37, Windy was in the American League with such fellows as Pete Kelly, Sid Abel, and Harry Currie. He was a league star from ’37-’38 to ’41-’42. Had it not been for World War II, he most certainly would have played in the National Hockey League. His season scoring points ranged from 25 to 45, which was considered to be better than average for that era. He saw action with the Hershey Bears, the Providence Reds and the Pittsburgh Hornets. While with Pittsburgh, he formed a part of the “Spud Line,” consisting of native Islanders Pete Kelly, Harry Currie and “Windy”. At the conclusion of the season, Kelly was voted the most valuable in the league, Currie the most handsome and best looking, and “Windy” Steele the fastest in the league.
In a game against the Springfield Indians while with Providence, “Windy” received considerable publicity when he knocked down the famed Eddie Shore no less than seven times. It was “Windy’s” first year as a defenseman. “Windy” modestly stated that Shore was nearing the end of his career while he was on his way up.
“Windy” Steele’s hockey career was interrupted by the Second World War, and following his army tour, he became playing coach for the Moncton Hawks of the Maritime Big Four Senior League in 1946-47. The team took the title of Maritime Champions, and were beaten out in the second round in their quest for the Allan Cup.
The next two seasons, he led Summerside teams to Prince Edward Island championships before going to Fredericton, New Brunswick and coaching the Capitals to a Maritime championship – their first in history.
His final triumph as a coach came in 1959, when his Summerside Aces won the Maritime Championship defeating Windsor, Nova Scotia in the final game of their series. He continued to have an active interest in the game until his sudden passing July 12, 1969. Summerside preserved the memory of this local hockey legend by naming the one of their two hockey stadiums Steele Arena in his honour.
Updated: June 2018
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