BORN ABOUT 1927, he began hockey with Western Suburbs in the Victorian league just after the war, a product of the practice sessions held when competitive hockey was suspended. He played with the Golden Bears in the early-1950s, then the Blackhawks from 1953 to 1963. He was in the finals trials of the 1960 Olympic team and thought he had an outside chance of making it until a leg infection disrupted his training and whatever chance he had. He was a Goodall Cup champion for Victoria in 1961 and he had played 137 local games before he moved to Canberra where there was no ice hockey. His wife and children skated and he successfully petitioned for a rink there. When one was built he called a meeting and became chairman of the committee that established ice hockey.
Slater's committee organised the first coaching facilities and drew up the constitution for the first ACT ice hockey association, of which he was the first president. In the first season in 1981, there was strong interest in the under-16 age band with 60 players in attendance. A club called the Polar Bears was formed and they played a team called the Grizzly Bears in exhibition matches. Slater helped establish the third original club, the Central Canberra Cougars and coached in the early years of ACT hockey. [N1] By April 1982 there were 3 clubs in the Capital — Belconnen Polar Bears, Central Canberra Cougars and Woden Grizzly Bears — and each had attracted more than 50 players under the age of 15. The Cougars received uniforms from their sponsor, the Canadian High Commissioner, Raymond Anderson.
The ACT junior representative side, the Canberra Colts, played a jamboree at Warringah in Sydney and also a visiting under-16 side from South Australia. They then competed in the Brown Trophy for the first time. Sixteen year-old local defender Ross Carty was selected to play in Australia's first Junior Worlds in Romania and won a CP Air scholarship to train in Canada. He had been playing for two seasons.
A group of former hockey players also formed the Canberra Knights, so named as a memorial to the work of the late Senator John Knight. Led by Des Peterson and coached by Ed Theoret, the Knights first organized game was on May 12th 1981 against a representative touring side from Grande Prairie Alberta in Canada. They played a series of exhibition games that year along with teams from Sydney, Melbourne and Newcastle, and went on to play in the NSW Superleague. The Knights were a founding Club of the Australian Ice Hockey League (AIHL), but folded in 2014 after 33 years.
Late in 1985, he retired as Chief Engineer of the ACT Electricity Authority by which time he had been a club president, a junior coach, a referee, and a life member of the ACT association. He died in Canberra in 1999.
N1. Contributed by Steven Lee (Canberra Senators), 4 Aug 2016. Lee and Paul Hardinge, whose parents worked at ACT Electricity, were introduced to hockey through Slater.
Ross Carpenter, 'Slater, John W (abt 1927 - 1999)', Legends of Australian Ice, Melbourne, Australia, http://icelegendsaustralia.com/bio_slater.html, accessed online .
1. Canberra Times, 1 Sep 1985 p 11. Article: 'The Canberrans: John Slater in retirement, 445 megawatts later' (copy in images below)
2. Ross Carpenter, 'Canberra Knights', Legends of Australian Ice, Melbourne, Australia, Online