Cleland Lindsay "Keke" Mortson (March 29, 1934 – December 8, 1995) was a Canadian professional ice hockey player who played 73 games in the World Hockey Association for the Houston Aeros. Mortson's hockey career spanned 27 years, which included playing over 1,000 games in minor league hockey, and 576 games in the American Hockey League. Mortson was posthumously inducted into the North Bay Sports Hall of Fame in 1996.
March 29, 1934|
December 8, 1995 (aged 61)|
North Bay, Ontario
|Height||6 ft 0 in (183 cm)|
|Weight||175 lb (79 kg; 12 st 7 lb)|
|Position||Centre / Right wing|
|Played for||Houston Aeros|
Mortson played his first semi-professional season in 1952–53, with the New Haven Nutmegs. After briefly returning to junior hockey, he finished the 1953–54 season playing his first three professional games with the Cleveland Barons. His first complete professional season was in 1954–55, with the Troy Bruins in the International Hockey League, scoring 25 goals. The Bruins played in the Turner Cup finals, losing in seven games. He then returned to Canada, playing four seasons of senior hockey before getting another chance to play professionally.
The National Hockey League established the Eastern Professional Hockey League in 1959, and Mortson joined the Sudbury Wolves team. Sudbury finished first place in 1960, and were runners up for the Tom Foley Memorial Trophy in the playoffs. Mortson played two and a half seasons in the EPHL with Sudbury, and still had the fourth most assists, and eighth most points in the history of the four-year league. Mortson moved up to the Hershey Bears partway through the 1961–62 season. He scored 32 goals in the 1962–63 season, as Hershey reached the Calder Cup finals, but lost in game seven. Mortson moved closer to home, and played four full seasons with the Quebec Aces. He scored a personal best 33 goals in the 1965–66 season, finished second in the league with 95 points, and was named an AHL second team all-star.
Mortson was recruited by Murray Costello to move west in 1967, and join the Seattle Totems. At age 34, he played in all 72 games that regular season, and in the playoffs won his first team championship as a player, winning the Lester Patrick Cup, as champions of the Western Hockey League. Mortson returned to the AHL for the 1968–69 season with the Baltimore Clippers, but partway through the next season, he went back to the WHL with the Vancouver Canucks. In the 1970 playoffs, the Canucks won the Lester Patrick Cup, giving Mortson his second championship.
Mortson would end up playing with a different team each season, for the remainder of his career. He played with the Rochester Americans in the 1970–71 season, then the Dallas Black Hawks in the 1970–71 season. Playing with Dallas, his team reached the Adams Cup finals in the Central Hockey League, but lost in six games. Mortson who was now 37 years old, returned to the AHL in the 1971–72 season, and was named captain of the Cincinnati Swords. His team placed third in the regular season, only one point out of first place, and reach the second round of the playoffs. The World Hockey Association was founded in 1972, and Mortson at age 38, made his major league debut with the Houston Aeros in the 1972–73 season. He played 67 games in the season, scoring 13 goals, as the oldest player on the team.
The Southern Hockey League was founded in 1973, and Mortson played for the Macon Whoopees. While playing, he was also hired to be the team's head coach, and general manager. Mortson was hired because he was the favourite player of team owner Jerry Pinkerton, when Mortson played in Hershey. Mortson used his WHA connections to establish affiliation agreements with both the Houston Aeros and Cleveland Crusaders. Mortson was the team's leading scorer, with 24 goals, and 51 assists in 59 games, and was also the first hockey player to wear the number 99. When the Whoopees folded in February due to financial issues, Mortson had led the team to 22 wins in 62 games. Mortson finished the remainder of the 1973–74 season with the Jacksonville Barons, and was named team captain.
After taking a year off, at age 42 Mortson played 16 games including playoffs, for the Buffalo Norsemen of the North American Hockey League. Mortson returned briefly two years later with the Houston Aeros as a late season replacement, playing six games during the season, and two more in the WHA playoffs at age 44.
Mortson was born in Arntfield, now part of Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec. After his professional career, he retired to North Bay, Ontario and playing oldtimers hockey, and baseball. He was later a baseball umpire, and in 1985 coached a North Bay team to an Ontario Baseball Association midget championship. He died in 1995, and was posthumously inducted into the North Bay Sports Hall of Fame in 1996.
|1951–52||Kitchener Greenshirts||OHA Jr.||3||0||0||0||0||–||–||–||–||–|
|1952–53||New Haven Nutmegs||EAHL||58||17||52||69||55||5||4||2||6||7|
|1953–54||Barrie Flyers||OHA Jr.||statistics unavailable|
|1955–56||Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds||OHA Sr.||statistics unavailable|
|1956–57||Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds||OHA Sr.||57||24||30||54||130||–||–||–||–||–|
|1957–58||Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds||OHA Sr.||23||7||12||19||18||–||–||–||–||–|
|1957–58||North Bay Trappers||OHA Sr.||33||9||20||29||64||–||–||–||–||–|
|1958–59||North Bay Trappers||OHA Sr.||53||35||42||77||69||–||–||–||–||–|
|1970–71||Dallas Black Hawks||CHL||10||2||13||15||6||10||4||7||11||11|
- "Cleland 'Keke' Mortson hockey statistics and profile". hockeydb.com. Retrieved 2018-03-21.
- "Player Death Index - 1995". Society for International Hockey Research. Retrieved 2018-03-21.
- "Cleland Lindsay 'Keke' Mortson". North Bay Sports Hall of Fame. 2011-11-13. Retrieved 2018-03-21.
- "Eastern Professional Hockey League (1959-63)". hockeyleaguehistory.com. Retrieved 2018-03-21.
- "Cleland Mortson". Eliteprospects.com. Retrieved 2018-03-21.
- "Vancouver Canucks 1970 Lester Patrick Cup Champions - Western Hockey League". HockeyGods. 2017-05-03. Retrieved 2018-03-21.
- College, Toni (1971-10-08). "Swords Debut Here Tonight". Cincinnati Enquirer. Cincinnati, Ohio. p. 25. Retrieved 2018-03-21.
- "Houston Aeros 1972-73 roster and scoring statistics". hockeydb.com. Retrieved 2018-03-21.
- Fierro, Robert (1976-02-22). "Unhappy Anniversary for the Macon Whoopees". The New York Times. New York City. p. 2. Retrieved 2018-03-21.
- Pope, Bobby (2015-10-26). "Hockey makes its return to Macon". Macon.com. The Telegraph. Retrieved 2018-03-21.
- Grisamore, Ed; Buckley, Bill (1998). Once Upon a Whoopee: A Town, a Team, a Song, a Dream. Macon, Georgia: Mercer University Press. p. 12. ISBN 0-86554-625-8.
- "Macon Woopees". Georgia Hockey Museum. 2017. Retrieved 2018-03-21.
- "Macon Whoopees hockey team statistics and history". hockeydb.com. Archived from the original on 2014-11-18. Retrieved 2018-02-04.
- Freeman, Clayton (2017-10-11). "IceMen plan to elude Jacksonville's past hockey pitfalls". The Florida Times Union. Retrieved 2018-03-21.