Originally published in the Portage Daily Graphic
The last surviving member of the 1942 Portage Terriers Memorial Cup-winning team has died.
Portage La Prairie-born Joe Bell passed away last month at the age of 90 at his home in Seattle, Wash.
Bell is a member of the Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame, along with his brother Gordie and father Addie.
Bell led the MJHL in goals in 1942 as the Terriers not only won the Turnbull Cup championship, but were victorious in the Memorial Cup as well.
He spoke to The Graphic last in 2011, and said it was one of the highlights of his career.
“All the other teams I played on were wonderful, in pro, but they weren’t the same as playing for your hometown and winning the Memorial Cup,” Bell noted.
He said he remembers talking to teammate Jack O’ Reilly following the four-game win over the Oshawa Generals.
“He said ‘Joe, we better enjoy this night, because no matter how long we play hockey and who we play for, we’ll never have a season like this one.’ It turned out that way, too, as far as I’m concerned.”
His career took off even further from there as Bell joined the NHL’s New York Rangers for the 1942-43 season, recording seven points in 15 games. After his career was interrupted by Canadian navy service during the Second World War, Bell resumed with New Haven-Hershey of the AHL in 1945-46, where he led the league with 46 goals and was named to the first all-star team that season.
Bell was soon back with the Rangers and played 47 games with them in the 1946-47 season, where he picked up 10 points.
That was the last of his NHL playing days, but Bell continued to play in such leagues as the AHL, USHL and PCHL in places like Buffalo, Seattle, Louisville, and Dallas. In 1951, with the Seattle Ironmen of the PCHL, Bell’s 46 goals led the league and he was named to the first all-star team and in 1955, playing with the Nelson Maple Leafs of the WIHL, he led the league with 78 points.
Joe was just one of many Bell siblings, including Gordie, Florence, Beverly, Bryan, Crawford and Jim, that would form somewhat of a hockey dynasty around Portage la Prairie. Gordie, who also had a brief stint in the NHL, was the goaltender of the 1942 Terriers and their father, Addie, was coach.
Bryan was the young mascot of that team and says the win was and still is one of the biggest moments in Portage la Prairie sports history.
“It was huge,” Bryan said. “It carried on for years and afterwards, everybody talked about it because in that era, it was the biggest thing to hit the town for a long time.”
He says he’s extremely proud of all that Joe was able to accomplish in his career.
“He was extremely fast and a good goal-scorer,” said Bryan.
The 1942 Terriers are also in the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame. The roster also included the likes of Lin Bend, Don Campbell, Billy Gooden, Bill Heindl, Bobby Love, Jack McDonald, Jack O’Reilly, Bud Ritchie, Lloyd Smith and Wally Stefanew.