Gretzky scoring tale stirs up controversy

This photo taken by Walter Gretzky shows the first of thousands of goals scored by his...

This photo taken by Walter Gretzky shows the first of thousands of goals scored by his soon-to-be-famous son Wayne in January, 1968, in Stratford, Ont.

CHRIS STEVENSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:06 PM ET

STRATFORD, Ont. - Somewhere in the fabric of every town or cityís hockey history is a loose thread.

Tug on it and something unravels.

Here itís a story with a six-year-old Wayne Gretzky as the central figure, playing on a team of 11-year-olds called the Nadrofsky Steelers in 1967-68.

Skating against a team from Stratford, Gretzky, wearing number 11, scored his first goal in competitive hockey, a moment captured by his dad, Walter, in a black and white photo.

The controversy surrounding the goal is over the identity of the goalie in the Stratford net. Two men claim to be the kid who was responsible for sending Gretkzy on his way as the NHLís most prolific scorer.

The story is being retold again in Stratford as the town prepares to host Hockey Day in Canada.

Stratfordís Tim Kelly is sure itís him. He said he can tell by the multi-coloured goal pads and the stick in his hand, a stick his dad, Tom, still has in the rafters of his garage.

In Walter Gretkzyís photo, it sure looks like the same stick.

But former Stratford resident Bill Cunningham said, in his heart he knows itís him, pointing out Kelly wore glasses and the goalie in the photo clearly isnít wearing glasses.

At least one teammate said he thinks itís Cunningham in the photo.

Two boys-turned-men, two stories, no way of knowing who was in the net that January day in 1968, who played in a role in an early moment of a hockey legend being born.

Two other interesting things: itís remarkable that Walter Gretzky got a photo of Wayneís first goal, but he was an admitted photo fanatic.

The other is that was Wayneís only goal that season.

Stratford resident and CBC anchorman Peter Mansbridge was helping out with Wayne Gretzkyís golf tournament when word came down Stratford had been awarded Hockey Day.

ďI told him Stratford had just got Hockey Day and he said, ĎYou know, I scored my first goal in organized hockey in Stratford in that old arena there,íĒ remembered Mansbridge. ďHe said, ĎI know it was a long time ago because the goalie wasnít wearing a mask. It was February. I hadnít scored all year and I was beginning to think I didnít want to play hockey.í Of course, his dad talked him out of that and he scored in Stratford.Ē

chris.stevenson@sunmedia.ca


Videos

Photos