Kenora Thistles (intermediate)
|League||Thunder Bay Intermediate Hockey League|
|Home arena||Kenora Arena|
|Colours||Maroon and White|
The Kenora Thistles were a Canadian Senior/Intermediate ice hockey club from Kenora, Ontario. They were eligible to compete for the Edmonton Journal Trophy as Western Canadian Intermediate A Champions.
In the 1950s the Kenora Thistles moniker was resurrected by a team that participated in the Thunder Bay Intermediate Hockey League. They also spent time in Manitoba's Big Six Intermediate Hockey League. Kenora is more local to the Winnipeg-based Manitoba Senior Leagues, but were constantly snubbed when applying to join. In with Marathon, Keewatin, Fort Frances, Fort William, and Port Arthur, the Thistles did quite well winning the league in 1953, 1955, 1957, and 1958 and winning the Edmonton Journal Trophy as the top Intermediate team in Western Canada in 1953.
In the 1952-53 season, the Thistles won their first ever Thunder Bay district championship and moved on to the Western Canadian championships. In the semi-final, the Thistles met the Manitoba champion Dauphin Kings who they defeated 3-games-to-none with 4-2, 7-3, and 5-4 victories. In the Edmonton Journal Trophy finals, the Thistles met the Alberta champion Ponoka Stampeders. Kenora won game on 7-4, but were blown out 8-1 in game two. The Thistles rebounded and took game three 5-3 and game four 8-4 before Ponoka could respond with a 3-2 win in game five to make the series 3-games-to-2 for Kenora. Game six was another do-or-die game for the Stampeders, but the Thistles were victorious winning the game 5-1 to take the series.
As 1953 Intermediate Champions, the Thistles were offered the privilege of competing in the 1954 World Championships but turned it down as they had already committed to a tour of Japan in 1954. From March 24 until April 3, the Kenora Thistles played off against the best Japan had to offer in Osaka and Tokyo. They defeated the Japan College All-Stars 23-1, the "All Japan" team 5 times (11-2, 4-2, 9-3, 8-2, 12-7), Nikko Electric 17-2, Hokkaido All-Stars 8-1, and the Kanto All-Stars 13-6.
In 1955, the Thistles entered the Thunder Bay district championship as the Western representatives in a best-of-5 series against the Marathon Mercurys, North Shore champions. The Thistles destroyed the Mercurys with scores of 6-1, 11-1, and 5-0 to take the series and another Thunder Bay title. In the Edmonton Journal Trophy semi-final, the Thistles met Manitoba's Brandon Wheat Kings in a best-of-5 series. Kenora led the series after game one with a 6-3 win, they lost game two 5-0, but led again after game three with a 4-1 victory. Brandon then, with their backs to the wall, came back to tie the series with a 6-2 win and then took it with a final 5-1 victory in game five. Brandon went on to win the Edmonton Journal Trophy.
The 1956 Thunder Bay district semi-final was won over the Thistles by the Fort Frances Canadians 3-games-to-2.
The 1957 Thunder Bay district semi-final was between Kenora and the Fort Frances Canadians. Fort Frances took game one 8-5 and Kenora took game two 8-4. Fort Frances took game three, but Kenora came back and won game four 8-2 and game five 3-2 to win the series. In the district final, the Thistles took on the Marathon Mercurys in a best-of-5 series. Kenora won game one 9-0 and then the two teams tied game two 3-3. In game three Kenora won 6-2 and Marathon won game four 5-4 to stay alive. Game five was th clincher for Kenora as they won 4-0 to take a third district title. In the Edmonton Journal Trophy semi-finals, the Thistles were swept 3-games-to-none by Manitoba's Pine Falls Paper Kings (2-1, 7-3, 5-3).
In 1958, the Kenora Thistles joined the Ontario-Minnesota Hockey League. In the Thunder Bay district final, they faced the town of Red Rock in a best-of-5 series. The Thistles won 3-games-to-2. In the Western Canadian semi-final, the Thistles played Saskatchewan's Yorkton Millers in a best-of-3 series. Game one was a 4-4 tie, game two was won by Yorkton 4-2, and game three was won by Kenora 4-0. All tied up, the Millers and Thistles tied again in game four 1-1, but game five was won by Kenora 2-0 to win the series 2-games-to-1 with 2 ties. Then the Thistles made their last ever appearance in the Edmonton Journal Trophy finals against Alberta's Olds Elks. Kenora took game one 4-2, but Olds swept the next four games 6-3, 5-3, 4-1, and 7-6 to win the Western Canadian crown.
Kenora lost the 1959 Thunder Bay district semi-final to the Fort Frances Canadians 4-games-to-2.
In the late 1950s, the Thistles became members of the Minnesota-Ontario Hockey League. This lasted until the early 1960s.