Fred Hunt

Fred started his junior career in his hometown of Brantford. He played for the Brantford Lions (OHL) between 1933-35. He was no star in Brantford, but he was a pretty complete player who could be used in all situations. Between 1935-37 he continued his junior career for the St. Michaels Majors, also in the OHL. During the 1937 playoffs he showed his fine skills as he scored 17 points (10 goals and 7 assists) in 13 games.

After finishing his junior hockey in Canada, he went to the Boston Bruin training camp in Hershey, Pennsylvania in 1937. Fred was offered a contract to play pro in Providence, but turned it down and stayed to play for Hershey of the EHL (Eastern Amateur Hockey League).

Years later Fred looked back at that moment when he was at the 1937 training camp.

"Terry Reardon was at the same camp and turned pro with the Bruins. My center was Lloyd Blinco, who became the general manager and president of the Hershey Bears," Fred recalled.

"There's one thing about that first pro training camp I'll never forget. The Bentleys - Max and Doug - were sent home after being told they weren't even good enough to be offered Providence contracts."

In Hershey (EHL) Fred had a pretty successful stint. When he was offered to play with the Hershey team in the AHL he declined to play with the pro club.

"I was doing all right in amateur. Heck, I was making more than some of the pros. But the big thing was the amateur club got room and board thrown in, besides our salary, while the pros had to pay for both. I was actually winding up with more money as an amateur than a lot of the pros were." Fred said.

In 1938-39 Fred scored a respectable 54 points (22 goals and 32 assists) in 53 games for the EHL Hershey team. Obviously a city the size of Hershey couldn't support two hockey teams so the amateur club (EHL) folded after the 1938-39 season. Fred was signed by the New York Americans on September 29, 1939 and went on to play for the Baltimore Orioles in the EHL in 1939-40 and scored 58 points (31 goals and 27 assists) in 59 games as the Orioles won the EHL title.

Then in the fall of 1940, legendary Eddie Shore acquired Fred and took him to Springfield in the AHL. Fred remembered his first pro game:

"Do I remember my first pro game? You bet. I scored three goals in Philadelphia against the Ramblers. The late Max Kaminsky was my center. I guess I had a couple of assists, too, and we won easily."

Fred went on to score 44 points (17 goals and 27 assists) in 40 games for Springfield. He played so well that he was called up in early December and made his big league debut in the old Madison Square Garden against the rival NY Rangers. Fred scored 7 points (2 goals and 5 assists) during his 15 game stint with the New York Americans.

Soon the New York Americans disbanded and dropped out of the NHL and Eddie Shore lost his arena in Springfield to the U.S. Army for a quartermaster's depot. Eddie Shore made a deal with his old buddy Lou Jacobs who had a pretty lousy team in Buffalo. Eddie brought in his Springfield players who had finished first in their division and mixed them with some of the Buffalo players. Eddie Shore became the general manager and part owner of the team and Art Chapman who coached the NY Americans moved in as a playing coach.

This combination was an instant success as the Buffalo Bisons won the Calder Cup (AHL's Stanley Cup) the first two years. This proved to be an important move for Fred who made his home in Buffalo for the rest of his life. There he met his wife Alda and enjoyed his most successful seasons. Fred played for Buffalo between 1942-44 and 1945-49.

His best seasons in Buffalo came in 1942-43, 57 points (27 goals and 30 assists) in 50 games. In 1943-44, he had 80 points (27 goals and 53 assists) in 52 games and finished as the runner-up in the scoring race. His 53 assists was tops in the league. He also collected 16 points (5 goals and 11 assists) in 9 playoff games. The 11 assists was also best in the league. Then in 1945-46 Fred scored 70 points (27 goals and 43 assists) in 62 games and had a league leading 11 assists and 16 points (5 goals and 11 assists) in 12 games.

"I always had a clause in my contract - in Buffalo, that is - calling for a bonus for scoring 25 or more goals. And I always just squeezed past it - 27, 27, 27 and 26. But I felt I earned the money. I killed penalties, played the power plays...did everything they asked me to do" Fred said.

He formed one of the best lines in the AHL during the 1940's together with Fred Thurier and Larry Thibault. They were called the THT line. When Fred had his second stint in the NHL 1944-45 with the NY Rangers he played on the same line as Fred Thurier. Fred H. scored 22 points (13 goals and 9 assists) in 44 games. The New York Rangers had acquired his rights in a special dispersal draft on September 11, 1943.

In 1948-49 Fred was considering retiring as the February deadline for changing players approached. But before he made a decision, the Bisons made it for him. They traded him to Hershey as payment for two players they had recieved earlier. The move almost payed off as Fred almost won another Calder Cup.

" We were winning three-one in games over Providence in the finals and in the fifth game, in Providence, I went into the boards and wound up with 60 stitches and a concussion. We lost the series in seven games. I had been thinking about quitting anyway, and that spill was my last appearance as an active hockey player." Fred scored a total of 418 points (175 goals and 243 assists) in 416 regular season AHL games.

Fred went on to a successful precision casting business as well as an automobile agency. But in 1952 he was back in hockey and went on to become the GM of the Buffalo Bisons for over two decades.


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