Sunday, May 17, 2015

Gordie Bombay helps Terriers win . . . Remembering the 1974 Steelers . . . Lowry to chat with Sharks?








F Dávid Šoltés (Prince George, 2013-15) signed a one-year contract with Košice (Slovakia, Extraliga). This season, as a 19-year-old with the Cougars, he had 28 points, 13 of them goals, in 44 games.
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The host Portage Terriers, who also are the MJHL champions, won the RBC Cup on Sunday, beating the
CCHL-champion Carleton Place Canadians 5-2 in the championship game.
The title goes from one team of Terriers, the SJHL’s Yorkton Terriers, who won it last season, to another.
I can’t tell you how shocked I was to read that Portage’s victory in the national championship game was the first for a Manitoba team since 1974.
Yikes! That was a long time ago. I should know, because I was there.
I was in my first year at the Winnipeg Tribune, after two at the Brandon Sun, and one of my beats was the MJHL.
The Selkirk Steelers, under head coach George Dorman, won the MJHL title in 1973-74 and headed out on the playoff trail.
The Steelers won the MJHL, beating arch-rival Portage in seven games — the Terriers had won the national title the previous season — and taking out the West Kildonan North Stars in five.
The Steelers took the best-of-seven ANAVET Cup final from the Terry Simpson-coached Prince Albert Raiders, 4-2, and then beat the B.C.-champion Kelowna Buckaroos, 4-3, despite playing the last four games in the Little Apple.
There weren’t any three-, four- or five-team tournaments back in the day, and the victory over Kelowna put the Steelers into a best-of-seven national final with the Central Junior A League-champion Smiths Falls Bears.
The Steelers camped out in Ottawa — the first thing Dorman did was get the team out of the small motel in which the CAHA (Canadian Amateur Hockey Association) had the team staying and into a Ramada Inn.
The series went seven games, with all games played in the Nepean Sportsplex because there wasn’t any ice in the Smiths Falls Memorial Centre. The Steelers won the first two games, 5-4 and 7-4, with the Bears taking Game 3, 3-0. After Selkirk won the fourth game, 2-1 behind a 48-save effort by G Andy Stoesz, I seem to recall writing that the series was all over, that the Bears were done like dinner.
You guessed it! Smiths Falls came back with 6-3 and 5-4 victories, the latter in OT, to set up a Game 7 with the winner taking home the Centennial Cup, this being the days before corporate sponsorship put business names on so many things.
In Game 7, the teams played through three scoreless periods — Smith Falls F Terry Fournier ripped a shot off the cross-bar late in the third — and appeared headed to a second OT when Gord Kaluzniak scored. In those days, under CAHA rules, teams played 10 minutes of overtime, no matter how many goals were scored, but if they were still tied they went to 20-minute sudden-death periods. Kaluzniak, a Selkirk kid, scored with two minutes left in the 10-minute period, and the Steelers were able to defend their lead until period’s end.
Considering that the victory gave the MJHL its second straight Centennial Cup, it is hard to imagine that the league wouldn’t be home to the trophy again until last night.
What makes it that much more interesting is that the Centennial Cup was presented to the CAHA by the Manitoba Amateur Hockey Association to commemorate the province’s centennial year of 1970.
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The Portage Terriers are the first host team to win the RBC Cup as national junior A champions since the SJHL’s Weyburn Red Wings in 2005.
Somehow it was only fitting that in this era of social media, at least one media outlet reported that “Terriers forward Gordie Bombay” scored a PP goal. Portage F Jordyn Boyd uses the Twitter handle @GordieBombay14. Boyd, who has played in the WHL with the Everett Silvertips and Kootenay Ice, gave the Terriers a 3-1 lead early in the third period.
The Bowles brothers, Brad and Shawn, stretched the lead to 5-1 later in the period. Shawn also had two assists. Their sister, Candace, works for Brandon radio station CKLQ and is the in-game host for the Brandon Wheat Kings.
The Canadians had beaten the Terriers, 3-0, in the round-robin.
Last year, the Yorkton Terriers beat those same Carleton Place Canadians, 4-3 in overtime, in the final game in Vernon, B.C.
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The Memorial Cup tournament opens Friday in Quebec City with the WHL-champion Kelowna Rockets meeting the host Quebec Remparts. Also competing will be the OHL-champion Oshawa Generals and the QMJHL’s Rimouski Oceanic. . . . Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News provides an early preview right here.
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Here is the Memorial Cup schedule (all games on Sportsnet; all times Eastern):
Friday, May 22: Kelowna vs. Quebec, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, May 23: Rimouski vs. Oshawa, 4:30 p.m.
Sunday, May 24: Quebec vs. Oshawa, 4:30 p.m.
Monday, May 25: Rimouski vs. Kelowna, 7:30 p.m.
Tuesday, May 26: Oshawa vs. Kelowna, 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday, May 27: Quebec vs. Rimouski, 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, May 28: Tiebreaker, if necessary, 7:30 p.m.
Friday, May 29: Semifina, 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, May 31: Championship game, TBA
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The hockey season is over for many Canadians, it having ended when the last two Canadian teams, the Montreal Canadiens and Calgary Flames, were eliminated from the NHL playoffs. In his latest piece, Roy MacGregor of The Globe and Mail writes: “It is impossible to count the number of Canadians who will now largely tune out. After the hardest winter in memory for so many, warm spring evenings or weekend afternoons are for spending anywhere but in front of the television watching, say, a team from Florida play a team from California.” . . . That column is right here.
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THE COACHING GAME:

Various sources, including Darren Dreger of TSN, have reported that Dave Lowry, the head coach of the NHLWHL’s Victoria Royals, is in the mix for the head-coaching position with the NHL’s San Jose Sharks. . . . Lowry, who has completed three seasons as the Royals’ head coach, also is the head coach of Canada’s national junior team. . . . Also believed to be contenders for the position are former NHL coaches Peter DeBoer, Dan Bylsma and Randy Carlyle. . . . Of course, the Sharks also want to have a chat with Mike Babcock. . . . Even if Lowry doesn’t get the Sharks’ job, his name now is in the NHL loop and you can bet that more interviews with different teams will follow, maybe not this offseason but in the future. . . . The Sharks have been looking for a head coach since they announced that Todd McLellan wouldn’t return for an eighth season. That was said to be by mutual agreement. . . . McLellan, a former WHL coach (Swift Current, 1994-2000), spent the past few weeks as the head coach of the Canadian team that won the IIHF World championship in Prague on Sunday. Canada, under McLellan, ran the table, completing its tournament with a 6-1 victory over Russia.
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At the moment, there are three WHL teams — the Kootenay Ice, Lethbridge Hurricanes and Vancouver Giants — without head coaches.
Last offseason, there were 10 teams changing coaches; this season, it doesn’t seem the number of changes will approach anywhere near that total.
In Kootenay, the Ice is looking for a replacement for Ryan McGill, while Lethbridge GM Peter Anholt is said to be down to a shortlist of three as he searches for a replacement for himself. The Giants, at some point, will hire a replacement for Claude Noel.
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Perhaps you heard about Russian president Vladimir Putin’s big game on the weekend. He scored eight times in an exhibition game that featured a lot of former NHLers and was played in Moscow. Putin’s team won, 18-6. . . . Putin spent most of the game on a line with Pavel Bure and Valeri Kamensky. . . .
The QMJHL championship will be decided tonight in Quebec City as the Remparts and Rimouski Oceanic play Game 7. The host Oceanic won Game 6 on Sunday, beating the Remparts 5-4 in OT on a goal by D Jan Kostalek. . . .
You may have seen the mini-documentary on Dickson Liong that got a whole lot of exposure earlier this month. On the weekend, Liong wrote a piece for The Fourth Period, explaining how he came to be the star of that piece. His story is right here.
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