FROM a place on the roster of a Stanley Cup-winning side, to being a record-setting stalwart in the American Hockey League, Pete Backor was a quality-defencemen, who excelled in the game.
As a 17-year-old defender, he began his junior career locally in 1936 with the Fort William Knights of Columbus side.
A year later he played Jr. with that same club, while also competing in the senior hockey ranks with the Fort William Forts, and contributed at nearly a point-per-game clip from the back-end with 40 in 41 combined outings, including 27 tallies.
Heading to southern Ontario in the fall of 1939, Backor spent the next five seasons playing defence for the St. Catharines Saints of the old OHA Sr. loop.
He went on to wrap up his time there first among defencemen in career points with 124 in 136 games played, which also placed him third all-time among all skaters on the Saints in the OHA.
With line-up spots limited and National Hockey League clubs dressing only 14-15 skaters in any given contest during the war years, he earned a place with the 1944-45 Toronto Maple Leafs.
In this season, Toronto, who also featured another Lakehead great, in Gus Bodnar, on their squad, went on defeat the legendary Jack Adams’ Detroit Red Wings side in a best-of-seven affair that went the distance, after the Leafs nearly let a three-game lead get away.
Joining Toronto’s AHL affiliate, the Pittsburgh Hornets, to commence the 1945-46 campaign, Backor was a standout on the blueline, earning AHL First Team All-Star laurels in his initial season in the league.
He then started the following campaign with the Hollywood Wolves, who competed in the Pacific Coast Hockey League, and played along the likes of fellow Lakehead product Harold Bradshaw, and another individual, who would eventually become part of Maple Leafs’ lore, in the iconic Bill Barilko.
Proving to be too good for the PCHL, Backor was recalled to the Hornets on New Year’s Day, 1947.
That year marked the beginning of eight straight he resided in the town on the banks of the Ohio, Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers.
Pittsburgh was a place of great success for Backor, as over that span, as he went on to earn four more AHL first team all-star nods.
With five of those league honours to his credit, it ties him for the most in AHL history, joining the likes of the great Johnny Bower as well as Frank Mathers and Fred Glover.
Among his other accolades gained as a member of the Hornets was serving as their team captain in each of his final four seasons with the club.
This included being the first player on Pittsburgh to hoist the Calder Cup, emblematic of being AHL champions in 1952.
Backor wrapped up his pro career in the Steel City in 1954, finishing as the franchise leader in career games played at 534, along with 60 more in the playoffs.
He was also second in assists with the organization at 218, sixth in points (278), and was tops in penalty minutes, having spent 442 in the sin bin.
With his legacy earning him induction into the Northwestern Ontario Sports Hall of Fame in 1994, while still being richly deserving of enshrinement in the AHL version, Pete Backor remains firmly entrenched in our community’s storied hockey history.