Remembering Ronning’s 14-point weekend . . . Memorial Cup in June? It could happen . . . Chiefs’ GM stepping down

A Twitter post on Thursday from John Winton, who runs the account tagged @NewWestBruins, reminded us that Jan. 27 was the 37th anniversary of F Cliff Ronning’s nine-point game, one off the WHL’s single-game record.

So I went back in the time machine one more time.

Ronning
Cliff Ronning was a major star with the New Westminster Bruins. (Photo: @NewWestBruins)

Yes, on Jan. 27, 1985, Ronning finished with six goals — two in each period — and three assists as the New Westminster Bruins pounded the visiting Moose Jaw Warriors, 16-4.

After that game, Ronning had 60 goals and 63 assists in 46 games. He would finish the season with a WHL-leading 197 points, including 89 goals. Ronning’s 197 points was a single-season record, but it was broken two seasons later when F Rob Brown put up 212 for the Kamloops Blazers. Brown’s record stands to this day.

The Bruins held period leads of 4-1 and 10-2.

Ronning got the Bruins started 65 seconds into the game; F Roger Mulvenna ended the scoring with goals at 19:22 and 19:56 of the third period.

Larry Rusconi, with three, Jim Camazzola, with two, Gary Moscaluk, Ward Carlson and Craig Berube also scored for the Bruins. The Warriors goals came from Bryan Walker, Kurt Lackten, Kelly Buchberger and Kent Hayes.

This was the fifth game in a six-games-in-nine-days trek through the Western Conference for the Warriors. They had been beaten 10-5 by the visiting Regina Pats on Jan. 20, their third straight loss. Two nights later, Kamloops dumped Moose Jaw, 11-4. The next night it was over to Kelowna and a 3-2 loss to the Wings. Then it was into the U.S., and an 11-5 loss to the Seattle Breakers on Jan. 25, and the Portland Winterhawks beat them 4-3 on Jan, 26. Next up was the game in New Westminster, followed by an 8-6 loss to the Cougars in Victoria on Jan. 29.

But back to the game in New Westminster . . .

Ronning was centring a line that had Camazzola on the left side and Brian Noonan on the right wing. Noonan finished with seven assists, tying a WHL single-game record that he then shared with F John Neeld of the Seattle Breakers (Nov. 24, 1979) and F Doug Trapp of the Regina Pats (Oct. 10, 1984.) F Brian Sakic of the Tri-City Americans upped that mark to eight on Oct. 3, 1990 in a 19-3 victory over the host Seattle Thunderbirds.

As usually happens when I go looking for information from a game like the Bruins’ victory, I stumbled upon a few nuggets.

For example, one night earlier, the Bruins had beaten the visiting Blazers, 11-2, with Ronning scoring twice and setting up three others. Yes, he put up 14 points in two games over 24 hours.

As well, Camazzola was playing in his first two games since he had starred for the Kamloops Junior Oilers at the 1984 Memorial Cup in Kitchener that was won by the OHL’s Ottawa 67’s. (The Kamloops franchise went through ownership and name changes after the Memorial Cup.)

Camazzola had been selected by the Chicago Blackhawks in the 10th round of NWBruinsthe NHL’s 1982 draft. He attended their 1984-85 training camp but refused to report to the IHL-Milwaukee Admirals, so was placed on Chicago’s suspended list. He was still there in November 1984 when Al Patterson, the Bruins’ general manager and head coach, acquired him from Kamloops. At the time, Camazzola, then 20, was a clerk in a Lower Mainland department store. By January, he knew he wanted back on the ice.

“I decided I wanted to make a career out of hockey,” he told the Vancouver Sun’s Elliott Pap. “I came here to get my confidence back instead of playing in Milwaukee.”

Camazzola had two goals and an assist in the victory over Kamloops, then added two of each the next night against Moose Jaw. He finished the season with 48 points, 19 of them goals, in 25 games. After three seasons split between the IHL and AHL, Camazzola went on to play in Europe for 12 seasons.

Oh, yes . . . one other thing of note happened that weekend.

Pap reported it this way: “Kamloops coach Ken Hitchcock was so incensed with his team’s performance Saturday he had his players walk over the Pattullo Bridge carrying their equipment bags.”

That bridge, which links New Westminster with Surrey, is 1,227 metres — 4,025 feet — in length.

There also was a coaching change that weekend as former NHL player Bill Hogoboam took over as head coach in Kelowna on an interim basis. Marc Pezzin, who had been the head coach, stayed on as general manager. The Wings were 18-26-2 and in third place in the Western Division. They were in their third season in Kelowna and Pezzin had been the head coach from the start. However, the Wings would be gone before another season arrived — relocated to Spokane as the Chiefs.

The Bruins would play three more seasons out of New Westminster’s Queen’s Park Arena before moving to Kennewick, Wash., and becoming the Tri-City Americans.


The QMJHL announced on Friday that it plans on resuming play on Feb. 3. It qmjhlnewsaid it hopes to complete its 68-game regular season on May 1. The league added that it will begin its playoffs on May 5 “and conclude no later than June 15.” . . . That means that the Memorial Cup schedule will have to be redone because it was scheduled to run from June 4 through June 13 in Saint John, N.B. . . . The OHL and WHL haven’t announced any changes to their closing dates for their regular seasons. Both leagues want to finish on April 3, with the playoffs to follow. . . . Interestingly, the QMJHL’s Quebec teams will play in empty facilities until Feb. 7, when they will be allowed 500 fans. Teams in New Brunswick now are at 50 per cent. Patrick McNeil (@cbepbp) adds that the Nova Scotia teams will start with games on the road. . . . And let’s not forget that the IIHF’s World U-18 championship is scheduled to run from April 21 through May 1 in Landshut and Kaufbeurn, Germany. The player pool might be a bit reduced if the three major junior leagues haven’t eliminated many teams.


Scott Carter, the general manager of the WHL’s Spokane Chiefs, will be stepping aside after this season “for health and family reasons,” the team announced on Thursday. . . . He will help the Chiefs through the search for a replacement and the hiring process. . . . Through Thursday, the Chiefs were 165-129-39 with Carter as the GM. . . . Carter, who joined with the Chiefs on Sept. 8, 2016, signed a two-year contract extension on Nov. 22, 2020. . . . The news release is right here.



The Prince Albert Raiders were to have visited the Regina Pats Friday night, but WHLthe game was postponed on Thursday. According to the WHL, the Raiders were “unable to field a complete team due to injuries and an addition six players being added to the COVID-19 protocol list.” . . . With Raiders at Pats on TSN’s schedule as a national telecast, the WHL quickly slipped another game into that slot. A Brandon at Regina game that was postponed from Jan. 21 ended up being played on Friday night and got the national exposure treatment from TSN. The Wheat Kings erased a 2-0 first-period deficit and beat the Pats, 6-4. . . . The WHL also postponed a Saturday game that was to have had Brandon visit Prince Albert. . . . From a news release: “WHL regulations require each WHL club ice a roster with a minimum of 14 healthy skaters in order to compete. At this time, the Raiders are unable to meet that minimum requirement.”


Two WHL play-by-play voices have been MIA this weekend. . . . Dan O’Connor, the voice of the Vancouver Giants, tested positive for COVID-19 so is sitting out a few games. . . . At the same time, Fraser Rodgers, the voice of the Prince George Cougars, was hit by what he tweeted is a non-COVID bug. But while he isn’t with the team, he’s handling broadcasts off a monitor from his living room in Prince George.


I became a big fan of F Jason Spezza of the Toronto Maple Leafs the other day. Terry Koshan of the Toronto Sun tweeted that Spezza “says that while he likes the pressure that comes with trying to score in a shootout, he is not a huge fan of them in general. ‘It has got a little bit stale,’ Spezza said.” . . . Hey, he’s right.


Manny Viveiros, a former WHL player and coach, returned to the AHL-Henderson Silver Knights’ bench on Friday night after getting medical clearance on Thursday. . . . Viveiros revealed on Oct. 28 that he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer. He left the team early in December for treatments. . . . In his absence, assistant coach Jamie Heward, also a former WHL player and coach, was in charge. . . . The Silver Knights were at home to the Colorado Eagles for a Friday-Saturday doubleheader. Henderson won 3-2 in a shootout on Friday, then dropped a 4-0 decision on Saturday. . . . Viveiros, as general manager and head coach, and Heward, as assistant coach, guided the Swift Current Broncos to the WHL championship in 2017-18.


Phone


Mike McIntyre of the Winnipeg Free Press travels a lot in order to cover the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets. He also produces a weekly newsletter that often is full of interesting content. Here’s a few paragraphs from Thursday’s post, following a light from Pittsburgh to Minneapolis . . .

“We nearly had to turn back on Monday afternoon as we made our way to Minneapolis, thanks to a woman seated in the row behind me who repeatedly refused to wear her mask.

“She was travelling with a number of family members, including young children, and apparently felt she was above federal guidelines and didn’t have to play by the same set of rules.

“The extremely patient crew on Delta had three separate conversations that turned into warnings, the final one being that the plane was going to be turned around for an emergency landing if she didn’t smarten up.

“She eventually did, sort of, although she played fast and loose by nursing a package of almonds and a soft drink for the final 90 minutes of the flight, allowing her to keep her mask pulled down for long stretches of time on a technicality because she claimed to be eating and drinking.

“I figured this would happen sooner or later, and I’m surprised it took until the fourth month of travelling for this current Jets season to run into one of these ‘maskholes’ we often hear about.

“It was a vivid reminder of how selfish some folks can be, unfortunately.”



Ants


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