Powell River Regals Hockey Club won its first of four national championships five decades ago. The following story was published in the Powell River News on April 23, 1970, two days after the Regals defeated Val D’Or Olympic three games to two in a best-of-five series played at the now demolished Civic Arena near Willingdon Beach.
Best in the West – Best in Canada
At 10:37 pm Pacific standard time [Tuesday, April 21, 1970] the W.G. Hardy trophy became Powell River’s property for one whole year.
This is the first time in the trophy’s short history that it has been out of Quebec. Powell River Regals are the toast of the town, British Columbia and all Western Canada.
In a fantastic, come-from-behind series that went the distance, the Regals bested the Val D’Or Olympic Hockey Club of Quebec three games to two. Olympic led the series two games to one after Sunday, April 19.
Monday night the Regals spanked the eastern champions 10-5 to force the fifth and deciding contest. Regals were behind on the clock Tuesday until Al McLean’s goal at 8:55 of the middle frame. Then with the crowd backing them, keeping up an almost constant roar, the Regals took over.
Skipper Rob Carmen gave the team the lead to take to the dressing room with a goal at 18:05, making it 3-2.
In the final frame, tense moments around the Regals’ goal in the opening minute were in order.
With playing coach Bob Crawford of the Regals still in the box serving a minor that started at the end of the second period, Al McLean sent Dave Parenteau into the clear and the canny centre tucked the puck neatly between Rene Lafreniere’s pads for what turned out to be the winner. The packed house went wild.
Val D’Or didn’t roll over there. Norm Furlong put them back within a goal on a neat play two minutes and 30 seconds later to make it 4-3.
The rest of the period was pressure-cooked until 18:35 when George Chambers added the icing to the cake. Dave Parenteau won the draw deep in Val D’Or territory and slipped the puck to Carmen. The captain flicked a shot, which deflected high and Chambers, in close, flipped the puck over Lafreniere’s shoulder for goal number five.
Pandemonium reigned for the final minute and 25 seconds. Words cannot describe the sheer excitement of the realization that Powell River was now undoubtedly number one!
Monday, April 20; Regals 10 - Olympic 5
A tremendous effort by all members of the squad squared the series in just one period of play. Regals took a commanding 4-1 lead in the first period and never looked back. Don Woodman and Al McLean were the sparkplugs early on.
Regals started their romp at 5:14 in the first on Crawford’s point drive. Al McLean followed this effort with the first of his four for the night and the locals took complete charge. Val D’Or were just hamstrung through the first 40 minutes. Lafreniere was replaced by Mark Carron in the Olympic net at 6:45 of the second frame but not before he had given up goal number six to the hungry Regals.
Fighting majors were handed out in the second and again in the third as tempers were thin on both sides.
Don Woodman with two, and Gary Begg and Dave Parenteau with singles were the other Powell River marksmen. Yves Caoutte, Fern Harvey, Jean Marenger, Yves Lepage and Gillies St. Jacques replied for Val D’Or.
Referee Bob Zedic had a tough game to handle but acquitted himself more than well. John Shmyr was out of the lineup for the first time for the Regals with a badly swollen ankle. This forced Crawford to drop Gary Begg back to defence and juggle wingers.
It seemed to make all the difference. Shmyr was missed but it seemed the club played much sounder hockey facing the loss for the balance of the series of this great competitor.
Tuesday, April 21; Regals 5 - Olympic 3
It was cautious hockey most of the night; nobody wanted to be the goat in this one. Val D’Or struck first at 10:16 and Regals seemed unsteady for almost 14 minutes. Gatien Higgins gave the Quebecers the lead. Rob Carmen tied the score with less than two minutes to go on a powerplay goal and a deflection from a Val D’Or defender.
Desi Lever had a glorious opportunity to put the Regals into the lead in the opening moments of the second period but shot wide from 15 feet.
Duncan MacDonald gave Val D’Or the lead again at 6:29 when he caught Powell River off guard in their own end of the rink.
Dipsy doodler Al McLean, with the wicked shot, gave Lafreniere no chance just over two minutes later when he caught the top corner to tie the score once more.
Penalties started to come in the middle of the frame and powerplay situations were frenetic moments for the fans in the stands.
Dave Parenteau, who had been on top of his game all night winning faceoffs, once more pulled the trick for Carmen’s go-ahead marker while two Va D’Or players were in the sin bin at 18:05.
The rest of the story is full of emotion. The Regals and Olympic played their hearts out for the final period and it had to be seen to be believed.
Lafreniere kicked out 27 shots to Ed Hyland’s 20 and the record books will show for all time that Powell River won the Canadian Intermediate “A” final against a gutsy club from Val D’Or, Quebec.
Results from games one, two and three of the series appeared in the Powell River Town Crier on Monday, April 20, 1970. To view those recaps, click here.