John Robert Kovich
Born: January 1, 1928 (Schumacher, Ontario)
Died: April 10, 2014
Johnny Kovich was a forward with the Canadian team that took a silver medal at the 1949 world hockey championship at Stockholm, Sweden. Canada, represented by the Sudbury (Ont.) Wolves, struggled in the tournament, tying Sweden, 2-2, and Switzerland, 1-1, in the five games of the medal round. Victories over the United States (7-2) and Austria (8-2) could not offset a 3-2 loss to the eventual gold-medal winners, Czechoslovakia. The Czech victory was all the more remarkable for the team having lost six players in a plane crash over the English Channel three months earlier.
In an oddity, the Canadian team opened the championship tournament with a ridiculous 47-0 victory over Denmark, scoring 13 goals in the first and 16 goals in the second before stuffing home another 18 goals in the final period.
Kovich, a 5-foot-11, 178-pound right-winger, played his junior hockey with the Schumacher Lions and the Porcupine Combines. He spent part of the 1948-49 season with the Ayr Raiders of the Scottish National League before joining the Wolves in time for the overseas tournament.
A stint with the Hollinger Greenshirts in the Gold Belt Senior Hockey League was followed by a move to Toledo, Ohio. Kovich spent six seasons with the Toledo Mercurys of the International Hockey League, where he was one of the team’s top scorers. He had four consecutive seasons of 20 or more goals (recording 28, 25, 20 and 29 from 1950-54). The versatile right-handed shot also filled in on defence when needed.
His career totals in the IHL included 91 goals and 152 assists in 255 games. He only served 89 penalty minutes over those six campaigns.
Back home in Ontario, he worked at Stelco in Hamilton, Ont., for 30 years before enjoying a 40-year retirement.
He leaves Anne (née Sebalj), his wife of 61 years. He also leaves a son, a daughter, five grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.