Editorial: Powell River Regals leave lasting legacy

Along with eight individuals, the new Powell River Sports Hall of Fame will induct the 1969/1970 Powell River Regals at the organization’s inaugural ceremony on Saturday, June 15.

In addition to fans and former executive members, several generations of players who followed in the footsteps of the hockey club’s first national championship team will be on hand to recognize the amazing accomplishment.

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The club of that era put Powell River hockey on the map, and members of that team helped develop future players by donating their time with Powell River Minor Hockey Association. That effort eventually stocked the core of a resurgent Regals team in the late 1980s and 1990s that went on to win multiple provincial and Canadian titles of its own.

In the 1970s and early 1980s, Powell River rep teams at all levels benefitted from coaching received from players on the 1969/1970 Hardy Trophy-winning roster.

Sometimes lost in the glory of that historical win is the fact that, at the time, the National Hockey League had just expanded from six teams to 12. The Regals’ roster and opposing teams of the time featured players and goaltenders drafted before that first expansion. How good would a player have to be to make a six-team NHL these days? How good were minor leagues back in the day? One can only imagine. Many players honed their craft in the American Hockey League before landing on senior team rosters.

Fans of the era experienced a level of hockey in their hometown that current hockey fans can only dream about.

One of the Regals’ goaltenders in 1969/1970, Colin McCormick, had previously been called up by the Boston Bruins for exhibition games and to play for their AHL farm team in Hershey. To further the point about the effect those players had on minor hockey, McCormick was known to suit up at minor hockey practices years later, without a mask on, giving young players a chance to try their best move on a former professional. Even in the 12-team NHL, there were only 24 goalies, so how good were McCormick and fellow Regals’ goalie Ed Hyland?

Mike Andrews, Tod English and John Vanderkemp starred for the Regals in the 1980s and 1990s. The trio has their numbers retired high in the rafters of Hap Parker Arena alongside former player-coaches Andy McCallum and Bob Crawford; all three attended Regals’ games as youngsters and were coached by members of the 1969/1970 team.

Would their numbers be retired without that coaching and development opportunity? Just ask them, they all live here. Did the win by the 1969/1970 Regals lead to future successes for the club? Just ask those later players, there are many around town, too.

 
Copyright © Powell River Peak

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