The Sarnia Sting have been members of the Ontario Hockey League since 1994-95. Before that, the franchise was known as the Newmarket Saints. Even before that, there was the Cornwall Royals. The Royals were in the OHL from 1981-82 but before that, they played in the QMJHL since its inception in 1969-70.
The Memorial Cup is the ultimate prize in Canadian junior hockey, pitting the best teams from the QMJHL, OHL and WHL to determine the best team in the country. The Cornwall Royals won the Memorial Cup three times as a team in the QMJHL.
In 1971-72, just their third season, the Royals finished first overall in the ten team QMJHL, ten points ahead of the next competitor, the Drummondville Rangers. Cornwall powered past the Verdun Maple Leafs, Shawinigan Bruins and Quebec Remparts to win the President’s Cup.
The 1972 Memorial Cup was held in Ottawa, Ontario and featured the Peterborough Petes and Edmonton Oil Kings, along with the Royals. Cornwall met Peterborough in the final game, winning 2-1 to become Memorial Cup champions for the first time. Cornwall goaltender Richard Brodeur was named tournament MVP, earning the Stafford Smythe Memorial Trophy.
Cornwall was led by several players that went on to play in the National Hockey League, including Bob Murray, Blair MacDonald, John Wensink and Al Sims. The team was coached by Orval Tessier. Orval would lead the New Brunswick Hawks to a Calder Cup victory in the American Hockey League in 1981-82. The following season, as coach of the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks, Tessier was honoured with the Jack Adams Award as the league’s coach of the year.
In 1979-80, the Royals finished first in the Lebel Division and second overall, behind only the Sherbrooke Castors. A kid named Dale Hawerchuk played for the Royals and was named rookie of the year. Hawerchuk would go on to have a Hockey Hall of Fame worthy NHL career. Cornwall took out the Shawinigan Cataractes, Chicoutimi Sagueneens and Sherbrooke to capture the President’s Cup.
The 1980 Memorial Cup was jointly held in Brandon, Manitoba and Regina, Saskatchewan. Once again, the Peterborough Petes were the OHL representative with the Regina Pats representing the WHL. Recovering from an 11-2 loss to Regina in the round robin portion of the tournament, Cornwall recovered and met Peterborough in the final game and won 3-2 in overtime. Dave Ezard of the Royals was the Stafford Smythe recipient. Besides Dale Hawerchuk, the team was led by future NHLers Scott Arniel, Marc Crawford and Dan Daoust.
The following season, 1980-81, Cornwall finished first overall in the QMJHL. Hawerchuk was the league’s scoring leader with 81 goals and 183 points. The Royals beat the Quebec Remparts, Sherbrooke Castors and Trois Rivieres Draveurs to earn the President’s Cup.
The 1981 Memorial Cup was held in Windsor, Ontario. Joining Cornwall were the Kitchener Rangers and Victoria Cougars. The Royals easily handled the Rangers in the final game by a score of 8-2 to capture their third and final Memorial Cup. Dale Hawerchuk was the Stafford Smythe Trophy winner. The team was supported by mostly the same cast as the year before with Dan Daoust gone but Doug Gilmour in.
1980-81 was the final year in the QMJHL for the Royals. The team shifted to the OHL for 1981-82. Since, the franchise has yet to capture a Robertson Cup as the playoff champion in the Ontario Hockey League. Subsequently, the team has never returned to the Memorial Cup tournament.