Gérard Théberge

 Gérard Théberge, (born Saint-Hyacinthe, Que, 18 Dec 1930, died Waterloo, Ont, 1 May 2000). Gérard Théberge was an ICE HOCKEY player who participated in the seventh WINTER OLYMPIC GAMES in 1956.

During his childhood and teenage years in Saint-Hyacinthe, Gérard Théberge was skilled in all the sports then in vogue. He regularly attended the Patronage Saint-Vincent-de-Paul, the ultimate place for recreation for the children of working class families, where he learned the rudiments of hockey. Demonstrating greater than average ability, he played for the Régiment de la Ligue Maskoutaine team from the age of sixteen. The following year (1947), he left Saint-Hyacinthe to join the Victoriaville Tigres in the Québec Junior Amateur Hockey Association. During the 1947-1948 season he was a teammate of the great Jean BÉLIVEAU and the goaltender Denis Brodeur, father of the celebrated Martin BRODEUR.

Following a short stint with the Québec Citadelles in 1948-1949, the Saint Hyacinthe native continued his career with the Guelph Biltmores, a junior team in the Ontario Hockey Association (OHA). With this team, the forward who shot left won the 1949-1950 MEMORIAL CUP. The following year, he played with the Jonquière Marquis, then with the Matane Red Rocks.

In 1953-1954, sporting the jersey of the Kitchener-Waterloo Dutchmen, and in his first season with a senior team in the OHA, he scored 32 goals and made a total of 35 assists in his 55 matches. During his seven year career with this team he reached his peak in 1956-1957, scoring 40 goals and 28 assists. Several months before this outstanding season, he took part in the Olympics in Cortina d'Ampezzo.

The Canadian Hockey Team in the 1956 Winter Olympics

In 1956, Canada did not yet have an all-star team to participate in the Olympics, which was still intended for amateur athletes. Since the Kitchener-Waterloo Dutchmen had won the Alan Cup, the symbol of supremacy in senior Canadian hockey in 1954-1955, they became the designated Canadian hockey team for the 1956 Games.

On 25 January, 1956, the day before the opening of the Games, a newspaper from Les Maskoutains proudly announced that a former player from Saint-Hyacinthe was on the Canadian team. The day after the article appeared, the "local boy" as qualified by the reporter, won out against Germany. Théberge, twice in three years a member of the OHA all-stars for Dutchmen team, delivered a brilliant performance scoring the only two goals in the first period and another in the beginning of the second period. In the end, Canada won the match 4-0.

This victory was followed by a 23-0 defeat against the Austrians. Théberge again distinguished himself with a second hat trick in two days. A third victory against Italy brought Canada into the final medal rounds.

To the chagrin of the Canadian public, the Dutchmen ceded 4 -1 to the United States. In spite of this heart-breaking defeat, Canada could still make the finals if they succeeded in beating the Soviet Union, who had sent a team to the Olympics for the first time in its history. Despite a great effort, the Canadians lost 2 to 0, yielding the gold medal to the Russians and silver to the Americans. The Canadians returned home with a bronze medal, without fanfare.

Gérald Théberge, who scored nine goals and two assists in these Games, became the first player from Saint Hyacinthe to win an Olympic medal. He pursued his career with the Woodstock Athletics in the senior Ontario league. At the end of the 1963-1964 season he hung up his skates for the last time.