Joe Junkin

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Joseph Brian Junkin

Born: September 8, 1946 (Lindsay, Ontario)
Died: January 11, 2014 (Harrisburg, Pa.)

Member: Lindsay (Ont.) and District Sports Hall of Fame (2008)

Joe Junkin’s NHL career lasted 7 minutes, 56 seconds.

On Dec. 14, 1968, the backup replaced Gerry Cheevers in the Boston net after the Bruins took a 10-5 lead over the visiting Chicago Black Hawks. The rookie stopped all six shots he faced. He never played another NHL game.

ImageHis debut game is remembered, if at all, for Bobby Orr’s performance, the greatest of his career to that date. The defenceman scored three goals and added two assists. The Bruins peppered the Chicago net with 50 shots in a rare game in which four goaltenders saw action. Boston scored seven times against Dave Dryden and three more against replacement Jack Norris.

Junkin, who was born in Lindsay, Ont., played junior-B with the Bobcaygeon Bobcats before joining the senior-A Belleville Mohawks. The Boston Bruins signed him as a free agent in 1968, assigning him to their Central Hockey League farm team, the Oklahoma City Blazers. He was called up in December after Eddie Johnston suffered a fractured skull.

He had a stellar training camp in September, 1969, most notably backstopping the Bruins to a 5-1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs in a preseason exhibition game played in Peterborough, Ont. The Toronto Star pronounced him “a standout,” but Junkin suffered a severe leg bruise and did not replace either Johnston or Cheevers on the Bruins roster.

The netminder split the 1969-70 season between the Blazers and the Hershey Bears. He then suffered a detached retina in his left eye when struck by a deflected puck while working at a summer hockey camp in Oklahoma City. He missed the following season after undergoing surgery.

The goalie played two games for the minor-league Long Island Ducks before joining the Syracuse Blazers. In 34 games in 1972-73, he tied teammate Yves Belanger for the Eastern Hockey League shutout crown, as both Blazers goalies recorded five blanks. (Belanger would go on to play 78 NHL games for three teams.) Junkin had a 2.61 goals-against average. The Blazers went on to win the Walker Cup as league champions.

Junkin returned to a major professional league when he made his debut with the New York Golden Blades of the World Hockey Association at the start of the 1973-74 season. It would be a troubled season for the franchise, which wound up orphaned as the Jersey Knights playing out of Cherry Hill, N.J. The goalie had a 21-25-4 record with a lone shutout and a 3.79 average.

He moved with the franchise to San Diego at the end of the season. He played in 15 games for the Mariners in 1974-75 (1 shutout, 3.29 average).

The Cincinnati Stingers picked up his rights in the offseason, though he never played for that club,

ending his playing career in the minor Southern Hockey League in 1975-76 with the Tidewater Sharks and Roanoke Valley Rebels.

Junkin died of cancer in Harrisburg, Pa.

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One thought on “Joe Junkin

  1. How do you say goodbye to a friend and mentor who has been gone two years? Joe Junkin coached me when I was a teenager. I hadn’t seen him since I went off to college in 1982. I saw him play at HersheyPark Arena in 1985 in a Hershey Bears alumni game. I had hoped to reconnect with him, but could not find out what had happened to him. Turns out he was still in Harrisburg/Hershey all this time.

    Joe had bad luck. He was in the Bruins farm system, stuck behind Eddie Johnston and Jerry Cheevers during the Bruins Stanley cup years. He played 12 minutes in the NHL. Still, he made a career out of playing in the minors and the WHA. He landed back in Hershey (he played for the Bears in the late 60s) when his playing career ended and he was goaltending instructor at The Cumberland Skatium in Mechanicsburg, PA until it closed in 1983. He taught me so much, I shall forever be grateful. Lindsay, Ontario sent Hershey, PA a helluva man. Rest in peace, my friend.

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