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J.C. "Doc" Gibson

BIRTHPLACE: Ontario, Canada

BORN: September 10, 1880

DIED: October 7, 1955

TEAMS/ASSOCIATIONS: International Hockey League



Gibson, a graduate of the Detroit Medical School, was a fine player in Canada and was prevailed upon by the late Merv Youngs, then a cub reporter and later editor of the Houghton Mining Gazette, to join the Portage Lake (Houghton-Hancock) organization. Gibson was a native of Berlin, Ontario, now Kitchener.  The new hockey team, fashioned by the late James R. Dee, was built around Gibson as captain.  It was called the Portage Lakers.  Their fame reached into Canada and soon they had gained recognition for the roughest, toughest hockey in the world.

In 1903 a four-team league flourished in the Upper Peninsula (Houghton, Hancock, Laurium, and American Sault).  Then, in 1903-04, Canadian players began drifting into the Copper Country, including such greats as Riley Hern, Hod and Bruce Stuart and Cyclone Taylor.  Gibson was instrumental in forming these players into the first professional league in the world, the International Hockey League, of which Portage Lake was a member.  Gibson was the team’s leading scorer, although there is no record of his exact number of goals. The 1903-04 Portage Lake team was perhaps one of the greatest hockey teams of all times.  In 26 games it scored 273 goals and allowed only 48.  Only twice were they defeated — by the American Soo, 7-6, in the regular season, and by Pittsburgh, 5-2, in U.S. playoffs.  Then the Lakers beat Pittsburgh, 5-1 and 7-0, for the American Championship.

Later, at Houghton where over 5,000 fans packed the Old Amphidrome, Portage Lake defeated the Montreal Wanderers, 8-4 and 9-2, to lay claim to the world championship.  Other teams which bowed to the Portage Lakers were St. Paul, Detroit, Grand Rapids, Cleveland, St. Louis and the Canadian Soo. 

In the spring of 1905 Portage Lake sent word to the Stanley Cup committee Board of Governors challenging the Ottowa Silver Seven to a championship series, and in 1906 they did the same to Montreal.  Both refused.  It was then that the Canadian clubs signed away the great Portage Lake Players and Gibson returned to Canada to enter the medical profession.