The four-team Memorial Cup tournament is to open in Halifax on Friday with the host Mooseheads meeting the WHL-champion Prince Albert Raiders. The Raiders are in the tournament for the first time since 1985. . . . With that in mind, here’s a look back at that 1985 tournament when the Raiders proved that they were the best. . . . Enjoy!
1985 MEMORIAL CUP
Prince Albert Raiders, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, Verdun Junior Canadiens and Shawinigan Cataractes
at Shawiningan (Municipal Auditorium) and Drummondville (Marcel Dionne Arena)
The Prince Albert Raiders, under general manager and head coach Terry Simpson, were a Canadian junior A hockey dynasty.
When the early 1980s arrived they really didn’t have any more junior A worlds left to conquer. And so it was that the Raiders applied and were granted entrance into the Western Hockey League.
Who could have guessed that three seasons into their major junior existence the Raiders would be the WHL champions and into their first Memorial Cup tournament?
But that is exactly what happened.
It cost the Raiders $175,000 to get into the WHL. They paid $100,000 for the franchise and $75,000 for what remained of a players’ list that had belonged to the defunct Spokane Flyers.
When the Flyers folded in the middle of the 1981-82 seasons, the remaining teams held a dispersal draft on Dec. 3, 1981, but were only allowed to select players from Spokane’s active roster.
The Raiders then bought the list and got more than their money’s worth because they picked up three future stars — centre Dan Hodgson, right-winger Dave Pasin and defenceman Emanuel Viveiros.
And then, on Dec. 3, 1984, the Raiders moved into first place in the East Division for the first time. It was now apparent that this had all the makings of a special season in Prince Albert.
The Raiders had gone 16-55-1 as they finished last in an eight-team East Division in their first WHL season, 1982-83. The following season, they were 41-29-2 and fifth.
In 1984-85, they went 58-11-3 as they put together the WHL’s best regular-season record. Their 119 points was the third-highest in WHL history; the 58 victories was No. 2 on the all-time list.
The Raiders then tore through the playoff season.
“The Calgary series was our easiest series and that’s a bit surprising,” Simpson said after the Raiders lost just one of 13 playoff games. “We expected they would be tougher. But the other two series were tougher than the final outcome would indicate.”
Prince Albert laid waste to the Calgary Wranglers in four games, lost one game to Medicine Hat before ousting the Tigers in five games, and then swept the defending-champion Kamloops Blazers.
“Winning the world championship was a thrill, but winning the WHL title is more satisfying,” said Simpson, who had coached Canada to a world junior gold medal earlier in the year.
And Simpson felt his club was ready for the Memorial Cup.
“I know we didn’t get into a long series or overtime games or anything like that,” he said, “but there was always pressure. I suppose you can say that if we would have had tougher series or longer series, then we might be better prepared for the Memorial Cup. That could be an arguable point, but I think we’re going to be OK.”
Hodgson was the team leader offensively. He led the league with 112 regular-season assists and was second in the points race, his 182 points trailing only the 197 put up by Cliff Ronning of the New Westminster Bruins.
Hodgson’s linemates, Pasin and Tony Grenier, made the most of their centre’s playmaking abilities. Pasin sniped 64 times and totalled 116 points; Grenier had 120 points, including 62 goals.
Right-winger Ken Morrison was the team’s other big-time sniper. He had 108 points, 51 of them goals.
Forwards Dale McFee and Steve Gotaas could kill penalties with the best of them.
Hodgson kept it going in the playoffs, too, as he led the league in assists (26) and points (36) in only 13 games.
Pasin and Grenier had 21 points each, with defenceman Dave Goertz totalling 18, including 14 assists.
Aside from Viveiros and Goertz, the defence also featured Dave Manson, Neil Davey, Doug Hobson and Curtis Hunt.
And the amicable Ken Baumgartner, who was listed as a defenceman but would play anywhere, kept the opposition honest.
Roydon Gunn (3.42 GAA in 36 games) and Ward Komonosky (3.52 in 38 games) shared the goaltending. But Komonosky got the bulk of the playing time in the postseason, playing in 12 of 13 playoff games and going the distance in all five Memorial Cup games.
“Our club has matured a lot,” offered Simpson. “Some of the younger guys have come along to the point where they are contributors on a regular basis. We’re getting solid leadership from the older guys and our goaltending has been good.
“Hopefully, we’ve come far enough along to give us a legitimate shot at the Memorial Cup.”
For the second year in a row, there was a high-scoring Lemieux in the tournament, too.
It wasn’t Mario, though. This time it was Claude, a right-winger with the QMJHL-champion Verdun Junior Canadiens, who also featured 16-year-old Jimmy Carson.
The Junior Canadiens were coached by Jean Begin, who had made it to the Memorial Cup tournament the previous season as head coach of the Laval Voisins and Mario Lemieux.
Claude Lemieux, 19 and not related to Mario, didn’t quite crack the top 10 but he was Verdun’s leading regular-season scorer with 124 points, including 58 goals. He missed 16 games as a member of Canada’s gold medal-winning world junior team earlier in the season. Ironically, that team was coached by Simpson.
In the postseason, Lemieux had 40 points, including 23 goals, in only 14 games. He also carried with him the reputation as a volatile performer.
“I have to have the players’ respect but I know that in order to get it they have to respect me,” he said of being his team’s captain. “They won’t if I’m always yelling at them.
“The thing is that I’m never satisfied. If I get a goal, I want two. If I get two, I want three.”
After being named team captain, Lemieux began to back off a bit in an attempt to avoid confrontational situations.
“Sometimes,” he said, “it was hard to back away, but what made it easier to take was that in every playoff game I scored at least a goal.”
Lemieux got lots of help up front from Carson, who totalled 116 points as a 16-year-old rookie. And utility forward Carl Vermette had come to the fore in the playoffs with 11 goals.
In goal, Verdun relied on Yves Lavoie, a 19-year-old product of the Quebec college ranks. In the playoffs, he put together a 12-2 record with a 2.32 GAA.
The leaders on defence were Jerome Carrier, who had been named to the Memorial Cup all-star team with Verdun in 1983; Ron Annear, a Prince Edward Island native and a Montreal Canadiens draft pick who had spent the previous season playing at a university in San Diego; and, Gerry Peach, whom general manager Eric Taylor said was picked up from the Toronto Marlboros “because they didn’t want him.”
Verdun had gone 36-30-2 in the regular season, winning the Robert Lebel Division but having a poorer record than the top three teams in the Frank Dilio Division.
The Junior Canadiens took out the Hull Olympiques in five games in the first round, then eliminated the Shawinigan Cataractes, at 48-19-1 the regular season’s best team, in five games in one semifinal series, outscoring them 28-10 in the process.
And, in the final, Verdun swept the Chicoutimi Sagueneens, who at 41-23-4 had been No. 2 in the regular season. The Junior Canadiens scored 29 goals and surrendered only 11 in the championship final.
The Cataractes, however, were in the Memorial Cup tournament as the host team.
Marc Damphousse was the big gun up front. His 160 points left him three points shy of scoring champion Guy Rouleau of the Longueuil Chevaliers.
But observers felt the key to Shawinigan was left-winger Sergio Momesso. A 6-foot-3, 185-pounder, he finished fourth in the scoring race with 143 points, including 58 goals.
“He’s a good man in the corners as well as being a good scorer,” offered head coach Ron Lapointe.
The defence was anchored by Yves Beaudoin, who also was the quarterback on the power play.
And in goal there was the starry Robert Desjardins, who was all of 5-foot-5 and 130 pounds.
The Cataractes hadn’t played in 20 days when the tournament started.
“We practised 13 of the 20 days and I find that our preparations have been very good,” Lapointe said. “Also it gave some players with minor ailments an opportunity to recover — and I have worked to make sure they are prepared mentally for the tournament.”
With the time off, Lapointe had also been able to scout the fourth team in the tournament — the OHL-champion Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds.
The Greyhounds had been on a mission since Aug. 31.
“As I looked up to the rafters (in the Soo’s Memorial Gardens),” said Terry Crisp, the team’s head coach since 1979, “I saw a 1981 Leyden Division banner, a 1983 Emms Division banner and I’m thinking the only one missing is a 1985 OHL championship banner.”
The Greyhounds, with Crisp and general manager Sam McMaster pulling the strings, filled the void with the first championship in their 13-year major junior history.
They did it with a hard-fought 9-5 victory over the Peterborough Petes in the OHL’s nine-point final.
“We put a lot of pressure on ourselves, and these kids have had to carry that pressure from Day 1,” explained Crisp.
The Greyhounds, under Crisp, had been in five straight divisional finals and in the league championship series in three of the last five seasons.
“We didn’t say that we might be there, or that we might be contenders,” Crisp said. “We said we were going after it. No other team was talking openly about a Memorial Cup. No other team put pressure on themselves like our team.”
During the season, the Greyhounds set OHL records with 54 victories, 11 losses and 109 points in a 66-game schedule. They also put together a CHL record 33 straight home victories.
In the playoffs, they lost only twice in 16 games; ironically, both losses occurred at home.
Centre Wayne Groulx was second in the OHL’s scoring race with 144 points, including 59 goals. Right-winger Graeme Bonar led the team in goals, with 66.
The left-winger on their line was Bob Probert, who came over from the Hamilton Steelhawks in November and had 72 points in 44 games.
Left-winger Derek King had 35 goals and was named the OHL’s rookie of the year.
Just before the league’s trade deadline, McMaster picked up right-winger Wayne Presley from the Kitchener Rangers. The previous season, Presley had 63 goals in helping the Rangers to the Memorial Cup final.
On defence, Jeff Beukeboom was a first-team all-star, while team captain Chris Felix led all OHL defencemen in points, with 101.
The goaltending was left in the hands of Scott Mosey and Marty Abrams. Together, they provided the Soo with the OHL’s best goaltending. Mosey had been acquired from the Guelph Platers, with Abrams coming over from the Toronto Marlboros.
The Greyhounds opened the 67th chase for the Memorial Cup with a 4-3 victory over the Cataractes before 3,226 fans at Shawinigan on May 11.
The Cataractes led this one 3-0 in the first period on goals by Mario Belanger, Damphousse and Dave Kasper.
Steve Hollett, with his first of two goals, got the Greyhounds on the scoreboard at 1:52 of the first period. Bonar, at 16:03 of the second, and Chris Brant, 2:12 into the third, tied the game. Hollett then won it on a power play.
The Cataractes bounced back the next day to beat Prince Albert 6-2 in front of 2,694 fans in Shawinigan.
“I thought the difference tonight was that we played hockey for 60 minutes,” Lapointe said. “I thought our layoff after the playoffs would really affect us today, but we went with four lines and it seemed to give everybody a breather.”
Left-winger Alain Bisson had a goal and two assists as the Cataractes posted the first victory for a QMJHL team in a Memorial Cup game since May 8, 1983, when Verdun beat the Lethbridge Broncos 4-3 in Portland. Quebec teams had gone 0-6 since then.
Denis Paul, Kasper, Patrice Lefebvre, Damphousse and Belanger also scored for Shawinigan.
Grenier scored both Prince Albert goals.
The Cataractes also got a big effort from Desjardins, who stopped 22 shots. His teammates played through a scoreless first period, took a 3-1 lead after the second, and scored three more goals in the third.
That same day in Drummondville, the Soo doubled Verdun 6-3 as King’s second goal, a power-play effort, broke a 3-3 tie at 5:47 of the third period.
Groulx upped it to 5-3 two minutes later and Tyler Larter iced it at 15:25 of the third.
Brit Peer and Presley also scored for the Greyhounds.
Francois Olivier, Carrier and Everett Sanipass replied for the Junior Canadiens.
The Raiders got back on the winning track on May 13 as they got two goals from Goertz and skated to a 5-3 victory over Verdun before 2,613 fans in Drummondville.
“We were skating better tonight,” Simpson said, “and our intensity level was up.”
Goertz added: “We had a team meeting and a good rest after the banquet this afternoon and everybody felt relaxed out there tonight.”
Hodgson, who was named the Canadian Major Junior Hockey League’s player of the year at that banquet, picked up his third assist of the tournament on a power-play goal by Grenier that opened the scoring 4:34 into the game.
Lavoie pulled a muscle in his right leg on that play and left the game at 8:18 of the first period, with Troy Crosby, who hadn’t played in the last 23 games, coming on to stop 34 shots.
Viveiros and left-winger Dean Braham also scored for the Raiders.
Verdun got two goals from Lemieux and one from Henri Marcoux.
Komonosky, who had struggled in the opener, rebounded with a 22-save effort against Verdun.
On May 14 in Drummondville, the Raiders handed the Greyhounds their first loss, winning 8-6 behind Dale McFee’s three goals and five assists from Hodgson. Attendance was 1,827.
A victory would have given the Soo a spot in the final.
Hodgson’s performance set an unofficial single-game record for assists and gave him eight helpers in three games.
“Well, that’s great if I do (hold the record),” Hodgson said, “but I’ve got to start scoring some goals here.”
Grenier scored twice, giving him a tournament-high five goals, as the Raiders broke open a 2-2 game with five second-period goals. Goertz, Pasin and Brad Bennett added one each for the westerners.
The Soo scoring came from Presley, Felix, Beukeboom, Hollett, Groulx and Peer.
“You forget that sometimes even in the smallest of oceans, a breeze can come up and tip your boat in a hurry,” Crisp said. “Tonight, a breeze came up and we only have ourselves to blame.”
As for Hodgson, he loved the shootout.
“We feel confident when we get into this type of game because we know we’ve got the guys who can score enough goals to pull us through,” he said.
Komonosky was solid again, making 37 saves, while the Soo duo of Abrams and Mosey combined for 34 saves.
The first berth in the final went to Shawinigan, thanks to a 5-1 victory over Verdun on May 15 in Drummondville.
That eliminated Verdun and set up a semifinal game between the Soo and Prince Albert. Begin, the Junior Canadiens’ coach, now had an 0-6 record in back-to-back Memorial Cups. His Laval club had gone 0-3 a year earlier.
Lapointe maintained his club’s victory wasn’t based on revenge. Verdun had beaten Shawinigan in five games in one QMJHL semifinal series.
“There was no revenge factor,” Lapointe said. “The shortest road to the final was what we wanted and our minds were on that.”
Desjardins, the game’s first star with a 23-save effort, said: “They got us in the semifinals, but we got them when it really counted.”
Desjardins lost his bid for the first Memorial Cup shutout since 1982 when Frank DeSantis scored with 1:25 left to play.
Momesso and Belanger had a goal and an assist each, with Lefebvre, Paul and Robert Page adding a goal each for the winners. Damphousse helped out with two assists.
“We just didn’t seem to have the intensity in the playoffs that we had tonight,” Momesso said. “We had terrific goaltending and our penalty killing was great. And we got a lot of inspiration from the little men (Desjardins and Lefebvre).”
The Raiders moved into the final by hammering the Greyhounds 8-3 on May 16 in Drummondville. Attendance was 2,758.
“When you play a team twice in three nights and they not only beat you both times but score 16 goals in the process, you have to give them full credit,” Crisp said.
The Prince Albert line of Hodgson, Grenier and Pasin totalled 13 points.
Hodgson had a goal and four assists, giving him a record-tying (Jeff Larmer, Kitchener, 1982) 12 assists in the tournament. Pasin had two goals and three assists, and Grenier had two goals for a tournament-leading seven.
Gotaas, with two, and Braham also scored for the Raiders.
Probert, Jean-Marc MacKenzie and Felix scored for the Soo.
“I think our outstanding player tonight was Komonosky,” Simpson said. “I’m really happy for him because some of our critics wonder about our goaltending.”
Komonosky stopped 37 shots as he enjoyed his best game of the tournament.
The game was tied 1-1 late in the first period but the Raiders then scored the game’s next seven goals.
“Our goaltending wasn’t up to snuff through the whole tournament,” said Crisp, who again used both goaltenders. “But what disappoints me most is that we couldn’t regroup and hold the fort — stem the tide — after they got ahead.
“We just didn’t dig down and hold them until we could get a goal or two back.”
This would be the first final since the round-robin format was adopted in 1974 in which Ontario wasn’t represented among the final two teams.
“I would have loved to have gone on to the championship, but we can go home and say we got beat by a damn good hockey team,” Crisp said.
As for the final, Crisp liked the Raiders.
“It’s going to take one hell of a club to beat them, I’ll say that much,” he said.
Hodgson, for one, was ready.
“Right after that game (the 6-2 opening loss) we wanted to play Shawinigan again,” he said. “Now we’re going to show them on national television how the Prince Albert Raiders play hockey.”
The Cataractes, the host team for this tournament, were in the final but playing 100 kilometres from home, their own rink having been deemed unfit for a TV game.
The final was held in Drummondville on May 18, with the Raiders winning 6-1 in front of 3,865 noisy fans.
Hodgson, who set a tournament record with 13 assists, pointed to a first-period fight as the turning point.
“Sometimes you’ve just got to go in there and tune some of the boys in,” he said. “Baumgartner did that to their big tough guy and we just picked it up from there. I thought that was a big part of the game.”
With the Raiders up 2-0, Baumgartner scored a unanimous decision over Steve Masse in a battle of 6-foot-1, 200-pound defencemen.
It helped too that the Raiders scored just 15 seconds into the game — Braham got the goal — to quiet the crowd.
Gotaas, with two, Pat Elynuik, Viveiros and Pasin also scored for the Raiders.
Belanger spoiled Komonosky’s bid for a shutout on a power play at 3:05 of the third period.
“Everyone cuts (Komonosky) down all season and says the Raiders aren’t going to go anywhere because of their goaltending,” Hodgson said, “but the big guy slammed the door and kicked the lights out today.”
Hodgson didn’t do too bad, either.
He turned in one of the best performances in tournament history, setting a record for most assists (13) in a series and most assists in one game (5). His 15 points were one short of the record set by Kitchener’s Jeff Larmer in 1982.
Hodgson was named the tournament’s most valuable player and was selected to the all-star team.
“To end my junior career like this is such a big thrill,” Hodgson said. “This is probably the best hockey I’ve played all year and it was a good time to play it, I must admit.”
Also named to the all-star team were Desjardins, Goertz and Beaudoin on defence, and wingers Grenier and Lefebvre.
Komonosky, although he didn’t get selected to the all-star team, was named the top goaltender. Grenier was selected the most sportsmanlike player.
“This is gratifying because this is a victory that an entire organization can celebrate,” Simpson said. “We played the best at the most important times all season long.
“I guess that makes us the best.”