Roy Halpin led Dundee Rockets to three Grand Slams in three years, 1981-84, a remarkable nine trophies. During this spell, the talented and personable Canadian winger won four scoring titles and was selected to three All-Star ‘A’ teams.
One of the first paid imports to sign for a British club, Roy first came to Britain in 1980 with the Concordia Stingers, the Montreal-based university team, for an international tournament organised by Tom Stewart, the owner of a scaffolding firm in the city. The pair kept in touch and when Stewart was recruiting for his new team, Halpin was at the top of his list, along with two other Stingers, Chris Brinster and Kevin O’Neill.
This trio were the advance guard of what soon turned into an army of North Americans brought over specifically to play ice hockey. They set new highs for team-work and desire which other clubs were forced to follow.
In Halpin’s first season, he made the Guinness Book of Records with 14 goals against Durham Wasps in a Spring Cup semi-final on 4 April 1982. By the end of the term the Rockets had made a clean sweep of all the silverware with the Northern League, Scottish National League, Spring Cup and the British Championship. They repeated this feat the following year with the league and play-off titles in the re-formed British National League.
Dundee scooped up a third Grand Slam in 1983-84, the first season of the Heineken-sponsored league, and Halpin set all-time single season records for goals scored with 128, assists (106) and points (234), and was voted Player of the Year by the Ice Hockey Writers Association and the Heineken (telephone) Hotline.
He dazzled again at the start of season 1984-85, scoring three of the Rockets’ five goals in their losing home-and-away European Cup games against Megève of France. But when Dundee stumbled, failing to win the first domestic trophy, the Bluecol Autumn Cup, and Roy only managed fourth place in the points scorers list, everyone realised something was wrong. There was. The winger was playing through a bad back injury, which soon forced his premature retirement at the age of 29.
The final game in his meteoric career came on 12 January 1985 in the Nottingham Ice Stadium, which fortuitously coincided with the first visit of BBC Grandstand cameras to an ice hockey game for over 20 years. This enabled a vast armchair audience to see him score his 100th point of the season for the fourth time in his three-and-a-half years here. Overall, in 122 competitive games (including the European Cup), he scored 636 points (343 goals) and spent 157 minutes in the cooler.
Halpin came up through Canada’s major junior ‘A’ league, spending 1974-75 with Quebec Ramparts, where his short but well-built stature (he stood 5ft 8ins tall and weighed 160 lbs) earned him the nickname ‘Hammer’.
A top player on three Canadian university sides between 1975 and 1980, he graduated with a degree in economic geography. Receiving an offer from the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs in 1979, he opted instead to continue his studies for two Masters’ degrees, one in sports administration at Concordia. Before coming to this country, he played a year on a Japanese club in Sapporo and was selected for eight games by Team Canada.
In 1984 he set up the ‘Sport Goofy’ international tournament in Dundee, featuring nine under-16 teams from England, Scotland, USA, Germany and the Netherlands, which he hoped would be a lasting memorial to his time in Britain.
Once back in Montreal he put his sports admin. degree to good use in his other sporting passion, tennis, taking on a variety of responsible posts: a tournament organiser with Tennis Canada, a director of the Canadian Open Tennis Championships and manager of a tennis and concert facility. He is also an accomplished golfer.
Roy Andrew Halpin was born on 18 October 1955 in Quebec City, Canada. The Rockets retired his number 9 jersey in 1985 and he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1986.