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Junior Islanders, Remparts brings back plenty of memories as QMJHL celebrates 50th season
Gilles Courteau, commissioner of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, and Marc Savard, representing the Savard family that is responsible for maintaining the Islanders franchise in Charlottetown, were here Wednesday night to help to celebrate the league’s 50th anniversary.
The year, 1969, also represents the 50th anniversary of what I consider the greatest P.E.I. hockey series in history – the Memorial Cup semifinal between the Charlottetown Islanders and the Quebec Remparts. In my lifetime, the greatest series of all-time, regardless of the sport, is the 1972 Summit Series between the Soviet Union and Canada. It brought the country together unlike any other sporting event but the ’69 series undoubtedly brought Islanders closest together.
The Remparts had future super stars in Guy Lafleur, Jacques Richard, Andre Savard, Michel Briere and goaltender Gilles Meloche. The Islanders had talented guys too, Bob MacMillan, Al MacAdam, Hill Graves, Dale Turner, Bob MacGuigan, Tommy and Tim Steeves, Peter Williams, Angus Beck and many others, all contributors, no passengers in that series.
The Islanders blitzed through the Maritime opponents, and the Eastern Ontario champion Ottawa with Larry Robinson in the line-up. The Remparts were the toast of the Quebec league and with Lafleur, the most hyped hockey player in Canada, were not supposed to have any trouble with the Islanders at the old Forum on Fitzroy.
The Islanders won the first two games in a wild and rough opening to a series where a Remparts player was arrested immediately after Game 2 by Charlottetown police, and where the attorney generals of Quebec and P.E.I. were featured on regional and national news.
When the scene shifted to Quebec City Coliseum and 14,660 frenzied fans, it was bedlam before the puck was dropped and a cage had to be built over the Islanders bench protecting coach Jack Hynes and the players from debris tossed their way.
The 1969 series brings back fond memories, and a lot of you guys that watched the series are getting a little older. On St. Patty’s Day, hoist a Guinness in memory of the Junior Islanders- Remparts series, another for the 1972 series, and perhaps one for the present day Islanders as they embark on a playoff run of their own. Then call a taxi.
The U Sports women’s hockey championship continues today at MacLauchlan Arena and by the time you read this Bruce Donaldson’s UPEI Panthers should be sitting on the sidelines.
Playing with 15 first- and second-year players and without their captain and MVP Emma Weatherbie, the Panthers played well but lost their opener 3-0 to Montreal.
Next year, the Panthers host the nationals again, and by then Bruce and manager Don MacFadyen will have added the pieces needed to challenge at this level.
Here’s a local hockey story you may like.
Gene Power was asked to take Mike (Willis) Hennessey’s skates to him at a certain rink in Florida before his Friday 8 p.m. hockey game. Gene arrived an hour early, and noticed a chap going into the rink with hockey gear.
“Would you know Mike Hennessey?” Gene asked.
“Is that the little guy from P.E.I.?” laughed the stranger. “You got his skates?”
“Yep,” Gene said before the guy responded, “take those skates, and dump them in the lake about 200 yards away.”
Obviously, they’ve seen Hennessey play.
The Island Storm entertains Windsor Express Sunday at 2 p.m. at Eastlink Centre.
One of the Storm’s best fans, Kelly DeVries, looks forward to seeing her new favourite player, Jonathan Loyd, the pint-sized talented point guard from Las Vegas. The Express (17-16) are chasing first place and have high-scoring Chris Jones and Horace Wormley, a small but talented guard.
If you want to see small, talented guards, take Kelly’s advice and watch Loyd and Wormley tomorrow.
Truro’s annual awards banquet goes tonight, and Bill O’Donnell is in the Hub Town, so it should be a fun evening.
At Mohawk Raceway, there are a number of locally connected horses in to go tonight, including Lincoln James, Woodmere Ceilidh, L Weather B, J J Powerball and Classic Pro.
At Western Fair on Wednesday, Austin Sorrie won with Fern Hill Breeze in 2:01 (purse $6,800). At The Meadowlands tonight, Maritime standout Sock It Away has the outside 9-hole in a $13,500 pace. At Yonkers last night, Bettim Jackie had the outside post in a $35,000 preferred mares class for trainer Ron Burke and driver George Brennan. Jackie has won four of seven starts and has already banked $41,000.
The Levy series kicks off tonight at Yonkers, N.Y., with four legs at $50,000 for the invitational-class horses.
Fred MacDonald's column appears every Saturday in The Guardian. He can be reached at email@example.com.