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FEATURE Gens versus Petes: A rivalry unmatched

By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express

The Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens.

The New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox.

Canada and the U.S. [in hockey, and in some minds, global affairs].

What do these all have in common?

Well, they are some of the most prolific sports rivalries of modern time, matchups seeped in sometimes real life hatred and animosity.

Central Ontario is also home to a rivalry which may not match those on the global scale but is just as fueled by the passion of the loyal followers of each side.

This heated rivalry is of course between The Ontario Hockey League’s Oshawa Generals and Peterborough Petes.

Over the years, incarnations of the two organizations have played more than 400 regular season games, and 70 playoff games against each other.

So it probably had many Generals (and Petes fans) excited when the regular season ended and it was settled the rivalry would spring up once again.

As of the publication of this article, the Gens have dominated this year’s series so far in all aspects, embarrassing their rivals 7-0 in the opener on March 22, and 8-2 in the second game on Sunday evening.

To say any Petes supporters at those games were attempting to hide underneath their seats to avoid the catcalls from Oshawa fans may be an understatement.

These lopsided results may not be a surprise as the Gens dominated the regular season series as well, winning six out of eight games, and outscoring their opponents 41-24.

But as of Tuesday night, the series had shifted back to the Memorial Centre in Peterborough, the site of many heartbreaking and frustrating losses for the Generals franchise over the years.

To get a better idea of the magnitude of this rivalry, let’s take a look at the two sides.

 

Oshawa Generals

Founded: 1937-38

Memorial Cups: 1939, 1940, 1944, 1990 and 2015

Hall of Fame alumni: Dave Andreychuk, Alex Delvecchio, Eric Lindros, Ted Lindsay, and Bobby Orr (players), David Bauer and Harry Sinden (builders)

 

Peterborough Petes

Founded: 1956-57

Memorial Cups: 1979

Hall of Fame alumni: Bob Gainey, Larry Murphy, Steve Yzerman, and Chris Pronger (players) and Roger Neilson and Scotty Bowman (played for the Petes, but inducted as coaches).

 

A highway rivalry

Located about an hour away from each other, the bad feelings between fans of the two teams can sometimes go to issues beyond the ice.

Johnny, a Petes fan, travelled to Oshawa for the series opener.

He says he didn’t really hear any ‘chirping’ from fans that night but says he’s had bad experiences in the past.

However, he does acknowledge that if someone is seen wearing a Gens jersey at the Memorial Centre, they may get the same treatment.

Johnny told The Oshawa Express that a hockey game is the only occasion he would come to the city.

“It’s the Dirty ‘Shwa, and that’s all I really have to say,” he notes with a laugh.

While joking, he says there are many people in Peterborough that truly hate Oshawa for reasons not totally known to him.

Meanwhile, Zach is a lifelong Gens supporter who plans to attend one of the games in Peterborough this week.

Pointing to the results of this year’s games, Zach says it isn’t “much of a rivalry” anymore, and he fully expects Oshawa to sweep the Petes and move onto the second round without much difficulty.

He took a shot at Peterborough, saying it is where “people who can’t afford to buy a house or rent in Oshawa” go to live.

On top of that, he criticized the Memorial Centre as an “oversized bingo hall,” and that it’s “literally” falling apart.

 

Fights, fights, and more fights

While these barbs are playful at best, there have been plenty of gloves dropped, teeth lost and blood spilled over the years.

Over the decades, the two have faced off in epic battles, including annual New Year’s Day games which have fallen by the wayside.

An example of this happened on Dec. 12, 1987, when the two clubs engaged in a bench-clearing brawl.

With around seven minutes left in the game, Peterborough’s Kris King flattened Generals goalie Jeff Hackett, who had chased a loose puck into the corner.

Although no penalty was called, Generals players were soon on the ice trying to get their hands on King.

It was alleged a Peterborough assistant trainer was shouting racial slurs at Oshawa’s Jim Paek, who was of Korean descent.

Numerous penalties were handed out during the game, and suspensions afterward.

But this incident pales in comparison to one from six years earlier.

On March 24, 1981, 38 years to the day when the Gens took a 2-0 lead in the current series, the teams were once again battling in the OHL playoffs.

This time the opponents were at each other before the puck was even dropped.

Jeff Crawford of the Generals and Dave Morrison of the Petes were jawing at each other during the pre-game warmup, and it wasn’t long before other players, coaches and even fans were getting into it.

According to an article in a Peterborough newspaper, members of Durham Regional Police, dressed in street shoes, struggled to stop players brawling on the ice.

Gens coach Bill LaForge and Petes coach Dave Dryden got into a bit of brawl as well, with Dryden claiming LaForge had ripped his suit.

Dryden went on to tell members of the media he believed the entire situation had been premeditated by the Generals.

LaForge was later suspended for 50 games by the OHL for his part in the incident. Interestingly enough, it was stated there were no fights in the preceding game, which Oshawa won 6-2.

More recently, the two teams got up to their old tricks in early-February.

The game in Peterborough was the highest scoring OHL contest of the season up to that point, and also the 10th anniversary of Pink at the Rink, a fundraiser for the local branch of the Canadian Cancer Society.

Unfortunately, many fans may not remember the game for its offence or recognition of a charitable cause.

After the Generals ran up the scoreboard on the Petes on their home ice, tensions boiled over.

A number of fights broke off near the end of the game, including goalie Kyle Keyser leaving the net to square off against Peterborough captain Zach Gallant.

As of the first games of the current playoff series, there have been no fights – but if history is proof, it’s only a matter of time.

 

A lopsided rivalry as of late

The last time the two teams met in the playoffs was 2015 when the Generals beat the Petes 4-1 in the first round on their way to becoming OHL and Memorial Cup champions.

In fact, when it comes to the playoffs, over the past four decades, Oshawa has dominated the rivalry.

Since 1980-81, the Gens have won 10 out 11 playoff series, only losing during the 1994-95 series.

Going back to the 2013-14 season, Oshawa also won 10 out of the last 11 playoff games by a combined score of 44-13 with four shutouts.

And while these types of stats are great conversation points in articles such as this, stranger things have happened, and the Petes are still alive.

It will be exciting to see what is the next step in this historic match-up.

 

BEHIND THE WRITING

I’ll admit it.

I like the fire created by the rivalry between the Oshawa Generals and the Peterborough Petes.

I currently live and work in the City of Oshawa, but growing up in the City of Kawartha Lakes I have been able to witness first hand the dynamics between the two teams.

And as of late, it is kind of shocking to see just how much the Gens have dominated the rivalry over the past 40 years, especially in the playoffs.

Oshawa has captured 10 of the last 11 playoff games, outscoring Peterborough 44-13.

Not only that but they have won 10 of the last 11 playoff series altogether.

And while this doesn’t make it seem like much of a rivalry on the ice, during the few games I’ve covered at the Tribute Communities Centre when Peterborough was in town, you could cut the tension with a knife.

The players, coaches and fans of the two sides just do not like each other.

But this tension seems tame compared to some stories I read from the 1980s.

There have been bloody brawls before games, with even the coaches getting into it.

In fact, former Oshawa Generals coach Bill LaForge was suspended 50 games for an incident before a 1981 playoff game.

I also read about the infamous annual New Year’s Day games that happened between the two and I wonder why the OHL decided to stop this tradition.

Maybe they were wary of more brawls like the one from 1981.

The Gens hold a commanding 2-0 lead in the current series (Game 3 was played after The Express’ publication deadline), but I’m hopeful the Petes can spark a little fire and perhaps stretch things out a bit.

As intense as this rivalry is, things are much more interesting when things are not so lopsided.

 

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