Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Ex-Blazer found dead at 35

Daily News Sports Editor
Mike Mathers, who played three seasons with the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers, was
found dead Sunday near Edmonton.
Mathers would have turned 36 on June 20. His body was found in St. Albert, a
city located just west of Edmonton.
Circumstances surrounding his death are sketchy but RCMP there said Tuesday he died
of non-suspicious causes.
Mathers, who was born in High Prairie, Alta., and raised in Edmonton, joined
the Blazers as an 18-year-old and played through his 20-year-old season.
Craig Bonner, the Blazers’ general manager, played three seasons with
Mathers; the two roomed together in 1992-93 when both were 20 years of age.
Bonner remembers Mathers as “a good guy” and “very quiet.”
“He was a good guy, a quiet go-about-his-business kind of guy. . . . kind of
a quiet sense of humour,” Bonner said. “His teammates liked him. I liked
“It took a little bit to get to know him but he was a good person at the end
of the day.”
Bonner enjoyed rooming with Mathers at least in part because “he wasn’t a
On the ice, Bonner remembers a player who “could really skate . . . kind of
a power forward.”
“He was a really strong guy,” Bonner continued. “He wasn’t the biggest guy .
. . he was thick and strong, in really good shape.”
Bonner said he hadn’t seen Mathers in “at least 10 years.”
“It’s pretty sad when they’re that young,” Bonner said of Mathers’ death.
Don Hay, the Vancouver Giants’ head coach, was the Blazers’ head coach in
1992-93 and had been an assistant prior to that.
“He was a good kid, a quiet kid,” Hay said, adding that forward Craig Lyons
was the third 20-year-old that season. “They were a good group of
20-year-olds, all three of them had good seasons.”
Hay remembers Mathers as “a winger who was a real quick skater. He had good
speed . . . not a big guy, a real compact guy.
“He was a good, quiet kid, a low maintenance guy. He was no problem at all.”
Hay especially remembers Mathers for the opening game of a first-round
series with the Seattle Thunderbirds in 1993.
“He got a penalty-shot overtime goal for us, early in overtime,” Hay said,
remembering a 3-2 victory over the visiting Thunderbirds on March 26, 1993.
Ryan Huska, the head coach of the Kelowna Rockets, played two seasons with
“He was a quiet guy . . . a very good guy but he was very quiet,” Huska
said. “He always had a smile on his face but never said really anything.
“He had amazing speed; he had really good speed.”
Mathers led the Blazers in playoff assists (12) and points (17) that spring.
In three playoff years with Kamloops, he had 39 points, including 18 goals,
in 41 games.
However, Mathers is best remembered by Blazers’ fans for his red-hot
performance at the 1992 Memorial Cup in Seattle. He led the tournament in
scoring as the Blazers won the first of what would be three championships in
a four-year period.
He totaled 10 points in five games, including a goal and an assist in the
5-4 final-game victory over the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. One day
earlier, he had a record-tying six points, including three goals, in an 8-3
semifinal victory over host Seattle.
Mathers is the last player to enjoy a six-point game at the Memorial Cup. He
shares the record with Joe Contini of the Hamilton Fincups (1976) and Guy
Rouleau of the Hull Olympiques, who did it twice in 1986.
Mathers was named to the Memorial Cup all-star team in 1992, along with two
teammates — goaltender Corey Hirsch and defenceman Scott Niedermayer.
Mathers played five games with the Swift Broncos in 1989-90 before joining
the Blazers the following season. Kamloops general manager Bob Brown listed
Mathers off the roster of the midget St. Albert Raiders.
In his rookie season, Mathers totaled 36 points in 54 games. He followed
that up with 70 points, including 30 goals, in 70 games and, after the
Memorial Cup, was selected by the Washington Capitals in the eighth round,
191st overall, of the NHL’s 1992 draft.
In 1992-93, Mathers had 108 points, including 52 goals, in 69 games.
“He, Darcy Tucker and Craig Lyons were a line and you couldn’t stop them . .
. they were that good,” Huska said.
Mathers played 193 regular-season games with the Blazers, finishing with 214
points, including 96 goals. He is the 25th-leading point-getter in franchise
Although he never played in the NHL, Mathers went on to a professional
career, most of which was spent with the Fresno Falcons, who began in the
West Coast league before moving to the ECHL.

  © Design byThirteen Letter

Back to TOP