(LINDSAY) Joe Junkin, considered by some to be the best goaltender to have ever come out of the area, died Saturday (Jan. 11), leaving behind a lasting hockey legacy.
The Lindsay native was inducted into the Lindsay and District Sports Hall of Fame in 2008, which was an honour for those who helped induct him, says Pat O’Rielly, who was his friend for years.
“He was an exceptional athlete,” says Mr. O’Rielly, adding that his old friend also had unique speed for a goalie.
“He could out skate most of the forwards,’ he recalls.
Mr. Junkin came out of the Junior B Bobcaygeon Bobcat program in the 1960s, and played a game as the backup goalie with the Bobby Orr-led Boston Bruins in the NHL in the late 1960s as well as with the New Jersey Knights, the New York Golden Blades and the San Diego Mariners with the World Hockey Association in the 70s.
After leading the Eastern Hockey League in goal-tending as an all-star in 1973, an eye injury put Mr. Junkin’s professional hockey career on hold for a few years, but he was able to battle his way back to the top of professional league play with the American, Central and Senior Hockey Leagues.
Off the ice, Mr. Junkin’s personality made just as big an impression on those around him.
“He always had a great big smile and a big heart. He was such a friendly and outgoing person,” says Mr. O’Rielly, who was in touch with Mr. Junkin on a monthly basis right up until before Christmas, at which time he said his friend’s “spirits were good,” even though he was dealing with health problems.
Mr. Junkin was living in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and was 67 when he succumbed to cancer this past weekend.
“It’s so sad to lose someone so young,” says Mr. O’Rielly.