CATHOLIC CENTRAL HOCKEY
MHSAA CLASS A, DIVISION 1
1959, 1961, 1968, 1974, 1994, 1997, 1999
2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2009, 2010, 2014
The History of Catholic Central Hockey
In the winter of 1934, fourteen year old John Ronayne, a student at Catholic Central, and Father Bob Lowery decided it was time for the school to have a hockey team. When we asked Brendan Ronayne if he was related to John, we learned that Brendan was his son. Unfortunately John passed away in 1987 but his legacy has lived on for seventy years. Many of the Ronayne men have played for Catholic Central and their family name has been closely intertwined with the team since its beginning.
In that first year we learned that the team practiced at Ford field on an outdoor rink only a few miles from the old school on Belmont Avenue. The early team played Assumption of Windsor, Cranbrook and Country Day. Unfortunately we don’t have any written records of the early team. No roster or game records can be located. When John Ronayne graduated, his brother, Jim, continued on in his footsteps keeping the game alive. Some of the early coaches of the team were Father Oscar Regan, Father Edward McMahon Sheedy. Unfortunately when the Ronayne brother’s graduated from the school, interest in the sport declined and the team dissolved. There was a team led by Ronald Cullen in the 1939-40 season, but only a few games were played and no records were kept.
In the winter of 1944 when Father Cullen returned to Catholic Central, hockey was here to stay. From 1944 through 1947 the team was able to practice and play at Olympia because Ted Haner’s dad, Mr. Fred Hanner was an auditor at the Olympia and obviously had an inside connection. Father Cullen had help from many faculties during the team’s formative years of the 1940s and Messrs. Gregoire, Enright, Ed O’Reilly, Belyea, Rowan and Jack Lee coached the teams until the fall of 1952. Father Canning Harrison coached the school teams from 1952 through 1955.
In 1951 the Detroit Department of parks and Recreation formed a league and Mr. Jack lee entered two teams from Catholic Central. As interest in hockey increased in the city, so did hockey at the school. At one time, the school had a Pee Wee Division (boys under 15) and a Juvenile Division (boys under 17) and a Junior Division (boys under 20).
In the 1953-54 season the Catholic Central Pee Wee Team under the direction of Father John McLaughlin won both the City of Detroit and State of Michigan Championships in their division. In the 1955-56 season the same team won the City of Detroit Championship in the Juvenile Division but lost 4-1 in the State Finals to a team from Houghton, Michigan.
The teams in the recreation league served as a farm system for the Varsity Program which played scrimmages or exhibition games in those days when schools in the Detroit and Windsor, Ontario areas. Only players on the varsity team were eligible to earn the double “C” depicting their achievement in the sport at the school. For many years, Catholic Central was the only Catholic school with a hockey team in the city so it took a bit of creativity and perseverance to find skilled competition.
Sadly only a few of the schools the early Catholic Central team’s played are still in existence. The only school we still play each year is Cranbrook. Brother Rice and Trenton joined league playing the mid 1960.
Today, the team is coached by Mr. Todd Johnson and his assistants Gordie St. John, Doug Itami, Mark Johnson, Danny Veri, Ricky Buttery and Tom Nugent. Catholic Central has thirteen MHSAA State Championships. Catholic Central has three former players now in the NHL or Pro League, David Moss – Calgary, Jared Ross – Philadelphia and Nathan Perkovich – Lowell/AHL.