Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Memorial Cup: A history . . . 1986

Portland Winter Hawks, Kamloops Blazers, Guelph Platers and Hull Olympiques
at Portland (Memorial Coliseum)

One year earlier, the Prince Albert Raiders had won the Memorial Cup in only their third season of play at the major junior level.
The Guelph Platers almost tore a page from that same book.
The Platers entered the Ontario Hockey League to begin the 1982-83 season. They went 7-63-0 in that first season.
Three seasons later, they were in the Memorial Cup.
In between, they went 20-46-4 and 21-40-5.
In three seasons, the Platers, playing in the Emms Division, had finished eighth, seventh and seventh.
And then came the 1985-86 season under head coach Jacques Martin.
An assistant coach with the Peterborough Petes the previous two seasons, Martin was selected as the OHL's coach of the year in 1985-86 after the Platers posted a 41-23-2 record to finish second, behind the North Bay Centennials (41-21-4), in their division.
The Platers got on quite a roll in the postseason, as they went 15-3-2 en route to the championship.
They started the playoffs with a first-round bye and then moved into a round-robin series that also featured the North Bay Centennials and Windsor Spitfires. The Platers went 4-0 in the series and advanced, as did Windsor. In the Emms Division eight-point final, the Platers took out the Spitfires, 8-4.
Guelph then dumped the Belleville Bulls in the final, winning the eight-point affair 8-4.
Guelph was sparked by left-winger Gary Roberts, who had been acquired from the Ottawa 67's in a midseason deal. Roberts, who had 51 points in 24 games with Ottawa, totalled 18 goals and 33 points in 23 games with Guelph. More importantly, he brought with him some Memorial Cup experience. He had played for the 1984 champion 67's.
Roberts was worth his weight in gold in the playoffs, too, as he struck for 18 goals and 13 assists in 20 games.
The Platers surrendered only 235 regular-season goals and they counted heavily on goaltender Steve Guenette. The best of the defencemen were Steve Chiasson and Kerry Huffman.
The QMJHL-champion Hull Olympiqes, meanwhile, were owned by Wayne Gretzky and coached by former policeman Pat Burns.
The Olympiques had easily been the QMJHL's best regular-season team, their 54-18-0 record well ahead of the Drummondville Voltigeurs who were second-best at 40-28-4.
Two of the Olympiques, Guy Rouleau and Luc Robitaille, finished with 190 points, best in the league. Rouleau had come over from the Longueuil Chevaliers in a trade. He finished with 91 goals. Robitaille led the league with 123 assists.
And Robitaille would lead the way down the postseason trail, his 44 points, including 27 assists, in 15 games tops in the league.
Hull didn't have much trouble in the playoffs; in fact, it didn't have any trouble.
The Olympiques opened against Shawinigan in a best-of-nine quarterfinal. It was over in five and the Cataractes were left to wonder what hit them as they were outscored 37-11.
Next up were the St. Jean Castors. The best-of-nine semifinal was over in five games, with the Olympiques leading 49-10 on the scoreboard.
And, in the best-of-nine final, the Olympiques steamrollered the Voltigeurs in five games, outscoring them 39-12.
The Olympiques had won all 15 of their playoff games, outscoring their opposition 125-33.
All told, Hull rode into the Memorial Cup having lost just once in its last 23 games.
The Olympiques' two other key performers were defenceman Sylvain Cote and goaltender Robert Desjardins.
Cote, who played 67 games for the NHL's Hartford Whalers as an 18-year-old in 1984-85, and Robitaille had played for Canada at the last world junior championship.
The 5-foot-5 Desjardins had been acquired from Shawinigan prior to the 1985-86 season. He had sparkled for the Cataractes in the 1985 Memorial Cup.
The WHL champions were the Kamloops Blazers, under head coach Ken Hitchcock.
Hitchcock was a genial giant who came to Kamloops from the Edmonton area with the reputation as a superb midget coach.
He proved it in his first season as he guided the Blazers to a 52-17-2 record, good for first place in the West Division. The dream ended when they were swept in the WHL final by Prince Albert, which would go on to win the Memorial Cup.
In 1985-86, Hitchcock made it two West Division regular-season pennants in as many tries. This time the Blazers finished 49-19-4, behind only the Medicine Hat Tigers (54-17-1) and Prince Albert (52-17-3).
The Blazers were sparked by high-flying Rob Brown, whose father Bob was beginning a long and successful run as the Blazers' general manager. Rob led the WHL in assists (115) and points (173), as he won the scoring race by 16 points.
Right-winger Ken Morrison, acquired from Prince Albert, was the WHL's top sniper, with 68 goals. He finished with 150 points.
Mike Nottingham (61 goals, 131 points), Greg Evtushevski (29 goals) and Robin Bawa (29 goals) also knew how to find the net.
It could be argued, however, that the Blazers' game plan revolved around defenceman Greg Hawgood. He was as fine a quarterback as this league had seen in some time and his totals -- 34 goals, 85 assists, 119 points -- were ample proof of that.
The Blazers had gone through most of the season using Rob McKinley and Pat Nogier in goal. But they swung a deal at the trade deadline to acquire Randy Hansch, a veteran of the WHL wars, from the Victoria Cougars. Hansch would be the go-to guy down the stretch.
Kamloops opened the postseason by sweeping a best-of-nine West Division semifinal from the Seattle Thunderbirds. The Blazers then took out the Portland Winter Hawks, who had gone nine games in eliminating the Spokane Chiefs, in six games.
The best-of-seven championship final was no contest as the Blazers ousted an up-and-coming bunch of Medicine Hat Tigers in five games.
Rob Brown, as he had done in the regular season, was the postseason's dominant player, leading in goals (18), assists (28) and points (46). Morrison was second, with 37 points, and Hawgood was tied for third, at 31.
Hansch played in 14 of the 16 playoff games, going 11-2 with a 2.63 GAA.
The Winter Hawks were back in the Memorial Cup for the third time in five seasons, the second time as the host team.
They were the WHL champions in 1982 when they bowed out early in Hull. The following season, the Winter Hawks became the first American team to win the Memorial Cup when they got into the tournament as the host team.
And now with it being the WHL's turn to play host to the tournament again the party was returning to Portland.
The Winter Hawks (47-24-1) had finished second to Kamloops in the West Division and then dropped the best-of-nine divisional final 5-1 to the Blazers.
The best of the Winter Hawks? Centre Ray Podloski, who was seventh in the WHL with 134 points, and left-winger Dave Waldie, who had 68 goals.
Centre Dan Woodley chipped in with 92 points and defenceman Glen Wesley had 91, including 75 assists.
The tournament opened on May 10 and by May 11 the Olympiques were 2-0 and had already assured themselves of a playoff berth.
The Olympiques started with a 7-5 victory over Portland before 6,859 fans.
Rouleau led Hull with three goals and three assists, his six points tying a Memorial Cup single-game record set by Joe Contini of the Hamilton Fincups in 1976.
Robitaille added two goals. Jean-Marc Routhier and Patrice Brisson also scored for the Olympiques, who trailed 2-1 after the first period but were tied 4-4 going into the third.
Portland got three goals from Bob Foglietta and singles from Blaine Chrest and Jamie Nicolls.
After taking a 4-2 lead on Foglietta's first two goals at 4:47 and 6:18 of the second period, the Winter Hawks surrendered five straight goals.
Still, Portland goaltender Lance Carlsen made 49 saves as the Winter Hawks were outshot 56-35, including 21-9 in the third period.
In the opening day's other game, Guelph scored the game's final three goals and beat Kamloops 5-3.
With Kamloops leading 3-2 midway through the third period, Roberts tied it with his second goal of the game at 12:53, Mike Murray got the eventual game-winner at 16:00 and Luciano Fagioli wrapped it up with an empty-netter at 19:49.
Paul Kelly had the other goal for Guelph, which trailed 1-0 and 2-1 at the period breaks.
Brown, with two, and Morrison scored for Kamloops, which was outshot 44-34.
Hull went to 2-0 the following day, thanks to a 5-4 overtime victory over Kamloops before 4,475 fans.
Rouleau won it with his second goal of the game (fifth of the tournament) at 1:37 of the extra period.
Burns's overtime strategy?
"You just put 77 (Rouleau) out there, one shot, it's all over,” Burns said.
Michel Carbonneau, Routhier and Robitaille had Hull's other goals, Routhier tying the game 4-4 with the third period's only goal, a 55-foot slapshot that deflected off a defenceman's stick and past Hansch at 14:22.
"We went into the overtime and said, ‘Let's shoot from anywhere',” said Robitaille, who totaled seven points in the first two games, two fewer than Rouleau. "We got lucky and that's overtime hockey.”
Len Mark, Morrison, Evtushevski and Troy Kennedy replied for the Blazers.
The teams were tied 2-2 after one period, with Kamloops leading 4-3 going into the third.
In the other game on May 11, Portland rode three second-period goals and a red-hot Carlsen to a 6-4 victory over Guelph in front of 5,108 fans.
Dave McLay, with two, Dave Archibald, Dennis Holland, Terry Jones and Chrest scored Portland's goals.
Keith Miller, Chiasson, Roberts and Rob Arabski found the range for Guelph, which outshot the Winter Hawks 43-38.
"The key for Portland was the goaltending,” Martin said of Carlsen. "He made the big saves to win the game.”
On May 13, the Platers threw a checking blanket over Rouleau and Robitaille and earned a berth in the next round with a 3-1 victory over the Olympiques.
"We knew that Rouleau's wingers liked to get him the puck when he was breaking into the open,” said Murray, one of Guelph's centres. "We got on top of his wingers early and that seemed to shut him down.”
At the same time, the Guelph defence, led by Chiasson and Huffman, rode the Hull forwards to the outside and rarely gave up a good scoring chance on Guenette.
Murray, with two goals and an assist, and Roberts scored for Guelph, with Carbonneau replying for Hull.
"We knew Hull was a skating club and we needed to come out hitting,” Murray said. "We had a good forechecking game to keep the puck in their end of the rink.”
Murray scored the goal that proved to be the winner on a second-period power play, at 9:19.
"The power-play goal was a bit lucky in that the puck was rolling,” Murray said. "We were told to shoot high because they had a short goaltender (Desjardins) and it went in over his shoulder.”
Portland had a chance to eliminate Kamloops on May 15. But when the Blazers scored a 6-5 victory on a goal by Morrison at 17:35 of the third period, before 7,388 fans, it only forced an extra game between the two, with the winner moving on and the loser leaving.
The Platers were assured a spot in the final, winning it on a better goals-for and goals-against ratio than Hull (Guelph was plus-2, Hull plus-1). The winner of the next Portland-Kamloops game would meet Hull in the semifinal game.
Brown scored twice for the Blazers, with Ron Shudra, Rudy Poeschek and Bawa also beating Carlsen.
With Rouleau having been cooled off by Guelph, Foglietta was suddenly the tournament's hottest sniper as he enjoyed his second three-goal game of the week. Also scoring for Portland were Dave Waldie and Podloski.
Kamloops led 2-1 after the first period and held a 4-1 lead 13 minutes into the second period. Portland cut the deficit to 4-3 before Brown scored at 19:06.
Portland, which was 3-for-4 on the power play, tied it in the third on goals by Podloski (10:15) and Foglietta (14:22) before Morrision, on a goalmouth pass from Brown, got the winner at 17:35.
"We've got a few scores to settle early in the game,” Hitchcock said. "Portland got away with a few things tonight when the score was close in the third.”
Two of Foglietta's goals came on a second-period power play, following a double minor to Kamloops defenceman Dave Marcinyshyn. Hitchcock was so upset that he actually struck Marcinyshyn in the dressing room during the intermission.
"I've never done anything like that ever before in hockey,” Hitchcock said. "I also can't remember the last time we got sucked in like that.
"But no one can question the character of this team. We've got a great deal of energy and heart left for the next game.”
The Blazers got their revenge on May 15 as they hammered the Winter Hawks 8-1 in the tiebreaking game. Attendance was 4,173.
"We weren't 8-1 bad,” Portland head coach Ken Hodge said. "They had a hot goaltender who got the job done and ours didn't.”
Hodge yanked Carlsen after the first period with the Blazers out front 3-1. But Hawgood beat Chris Eisenhart 33 seconds into the second period and the rout was on.
"We knew we could beat Portland two straight because we beat them in five of six in the playoffs,” Hawgood said. "We wanted to win badly because we're the WHL champions and Portland's only the host team in the tournament.”
Hawgood, who had played mostly left wing in the first two games, moved back to defence and scored three times for Kamloops. Don Schmidt, a stay-at-home defenceman, Evtushevski, Morrison and Mark Kachowski also scored for the Blazers.
Podloski had Portland's only goal, beating Hansch on a first-period power play.
"We got back to our checking style of play and really ground hard,” Hitchcock said. "Most of their chances were from far out and Hansch was really sharp early in the game.”
"We all want that Memorial Cup ring badly,” Hawgood said. "People won't remember what we did here unless we come home with the ring.”
Hawgood, who also had an assist, and Brown, who had two assists, now were tied with Rouleau atop the scoring race, each player with nine points.
There wouldn't be a ring for Kamloops, at least not at this tournament.
The Blazers lost out on May 16, when Robitaille struck for four goals, three of them in the second period, as the Olympiques beat the Blazers 9-3 in front of 3,247 fans.
"I could have shot from the corner and scored,” Robitaille said. "It was one of those nights where everything I touched went in.”
Rouleau scored twice and set up four other goals, giving him his second six-point game of the tournament. That left him with 15 points, one short of the tournament record set by Jeff Larmer of the 1982 Kitchener Rangers.
"All three lines played well and I'm very, very happy,” Rouleau said. "I hope we play well tomorrow.”
Hull, which hadn't played since May 12 while Kamloops was playing its third game in three nights, led 3-1 after the first period and 6-3 after the second.
Routhier, Carbonneau and Bob Coyle also scored for the Olympiques.
Mike Nottingham, Brown and Morrison scored for Kamloops.
"We weren't sharp and we weren't aggressive,” Hitchcock said. "Guys that normally fill the net were shooting high and all over the place.
"Their coach was smart. He got our best checkers away from his top line and we couldn't get away with the double line changes like we did earlier in the tournament.”
Hull captain Rick Hayward, a native of Toledo, Ohio, felt his club still hadn't played its best.
"We haven't played up to our potential even yet,” he said. "Tonight, we showed just some of the things we can do.
"A chill goes through my body just thinking about playing Guelph. We'll give it the best shot in the morning.”
That best shot wasn't quite good enough.
The Platers finished their fourth season of existence by winning major junior hockey's championship, beating the Olympiques 6-2 in front of 4,166 fans.
"This whole thing is a dream,” said Chiasson, who was named the tournament's most valuable player. "I don't think we expected this. We've been surprising ourselves all season and we gave ourselves a real shock this week.”
The Platers, coming off a four-day rest, were at the top of their game as they took 3-0 and 5-1 period leads.
Guelph got rolling in the first period when Fagioli, who was nicknamed Lucky, scored twice in 11 seconds and Lonnie Loach added a power-play score.
Benoit Brunet scored for Hull midway throught the second period, but Murray and left-winger Allan MacIsaac scored 13 seconds apart before the period ended to give Guelph a 5-1 lead and all but end this one.
Robitaille and Miller exchanged third-period goals.
Rouleau drew an assist on Robitaille's goal, giving him 16 points and a share of the tournament points record with Larmer.
Robitaille's eight goals tied the tournament record set by Cornwall's Dale Hawerchuk in 1982.
Huffman was selected the most sportsmanlike player, with Guenette named the top goaltender.
The all-star team comprised Guenette, Chiasson and Shudra on defence, and Rouleau, Robitaille and Foglietta up front.
This tournament was also notable for some of the on-ice officials.
Referees Mick McGeough and Lance Roberts went on to work in the NHL, as did linesmen Mike Cvik, Shane Heyer and Brad Lazarowich.
Cvik and Heyer stood out at 6-foot-8 and 6-foot-7, respectively. As Canadian Press writer Grant Kerr pointed out, Cvik stood a full 15 inches taller than Desjardins, the Hull goaltender.
Also of note was the Guelph trainer, Alex Dudnick. Back in 1952, when the Guelph Biltmore Mad Hatters won the Memorial Cup, Dudnick was their stickboy.

NEXT: 1987 (Medicine Hat Tigers, Oshawa Generals and Longueuil Chevaliers)

  © Design byThirteen Letter

Back to TOP