Kelowna Packers

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The Kelowna Packers were a senior ice hockey team from Kelowna, British Columbia.

There was also a junior ice hockey team of the same name that played in the British Columbia Hockey League from 1986 to 1989. This junior team was renamed the Kelowna Spartans in 1989.


The Kelowna Packers were established in 1949 in Kelowna, British Columbia. The Packers were guided by a bright young man by the name of Bob Giordano. It took him eight years to reach the top in district hockey.

After a brief stint as statistician for the Okanagan Senior League Bob Giordano was named as one of the six directors of the Kelowna Packers Hockey Club on May 13, 1957. Ten days later he was elected vice-president of the team that playing in the Okanagan Senior Hockey League along with the Penticton Vees, Vernon Canadians and Kamloops Elks.

The 1957-58 season was the most successful one for the Kelowna Packers, finish first place in the OSHL for the first time in their history.

In a seven-game series against the Kamloops Chiefs they won the OSHL championship. The Western Canada Championships came next as the Packers met the Winnipeg Maroons. The Kelowna Packers won the Patten Cup and the Western Canada championships.

The Kelowna Packers then entered the 1958 Allan Cup finals against the Eastern champion the Belleveille McFarlands. In a hard fought seven game series Kelowna bowed to the McFarland in seven games.

In May 1958 the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association selected the Kelowna Packers to represent Canada on an international hockey tour. The Kelowna Packers of the Okanagan-Mainline Senior Amateur Hockey League became the first western sports team to be allowed behind the Iron Curtain to play a series of exhibition games. Outside Kelowna, there were critics of this decision and some predicted that the Packers would return without so much as a single win.

But the team would play five games against Soviet Union teams and three in Sweden, and would tour for a period extending from November 9 to 30, 1958.

Previous to the Packers swing through the Soviet Union the team played three games in Sweden The Swedish National Team defeated the Packers 5-2, a loss that was attributed to the long trip just completed by the Kelowna team. The tables soon turned with the following games and the Packers emerged victorious winning 5-2 in both the second game and the final encounter.

The Packers lost their first game against the Russian Army team 4 to 3. They tied the next two games 1 - 1 against the Wings of Soviet and 2 - 2 against the Moscow Dynamos. Kelowna Packers coach, Jack OíReilly, a fiery and outspoken Irishman, guaranteed victories for the Canadians in the last two games of the tour.

In the fourth game, against the Soviet Juniors, the Packers did indeed secure a win 4-3. Their record stood at one win, two ties, and one loss. In the final match, they faced Russia's top team — the Moscow Selects. The Packers played well and won an overwhelming victory of 5-1 over the Selects. Jack O'Reilly had kept his promises. Despite the skepticism of their critics, the Packers returned to Kelowna as champions.

In the 1959-60 season the Packers again captured the OSHL title. It would be the last year they were together. Senior hockey was dying in the Okanagan.


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