Here are the first two paragraphs of something I wrote more than 36 years ago . . .
“It was Friday, Jan. 19, 1973. Across the pond in jolly old England, Prince Charles narrowly escaped a head-on crash while driving his Aston Martin through the fog-enshrouded countryside southwest of London.
“Meanwhile, at Regina’s Exhibition Stadium, a nautical mile or two from the old country, a prince of a hockey player was having a jolly good night.”
Thanks to a tweet from Kevin Shaw (@theblueliner), the go-to guy for all things Regina Pats, the memories came flashing back on Thursday night.
Yes, it was 50 years ago — Jan. 19, 1973 — when F Dennis Sobchuk had one of the greatest offensive nights in WHL history. That night, Sobchuk struck for 10 points, six of them goals, in an 11-3 victory over the Brandon Wheat Kings before 2,284 fans at Regina’s Exhibition Stadium.
It’s worth noting that the Wheat Kings were without F Ron Chipperfield (throat infection), who was leading the league with 53 goals.
Sobchuk’s line finished with 20 points — Mike Wanchuk had a goal and five assists; Clarke Gillies had a goal and three assists. Gillies also spent some time in the penalty box, thanks to a pair of fights with Brandon D Rick Piche.
The 18-year-old Sobchuk was in his second season with the Pats. That night, his fourth goal was his 100th regular-season score. Yes, he had 100 goals in fewer than two full seasons.
“Some nights they go in easy. Other nights they don’t go in at all. Tonight, well, it was one of those real good nights,” Sobchuk told Mal Isaac of the Regina Leader-Post. “And I should have had a couple of more, especially in the third period. But I guess a guy can’t be greedy.”
The outburst came just two days after head coach Bob Turner had talked with his three top forwards, telling them “to shoot more, that’s all. Each of them has a great shot but they just don’t shoot enough. Tonight, they were really rifling them and look what happened.”
The six goals allowed Sobchuk to tie the WCHL record — the WHL then was the Western Canada Hockey League — for goals in a game that had been set two seasons previous by F Danny Spring of the Edmonton Oil Kings.
Sobchuk’s 10-point night also got him a piece of the single-game record for points, one that had been established by F Gerry Pinder of the Saskatoon Blades on March 12, 1967, and tied by F Tom Lysiak of the Medicine Hat Tigers on Dec. 30, 1971. While Pinder also had six goals and four assists in his big game, Lysiak did it with four goals and six helpers.
Sobchuk also tied the WCHL record for goals in one period — he scored five times in the second period.
Sobchuk’s night also pushed him into the WCHL scoring lead with 92 points, including 46 goals. At that point, he had two more points than Lysiak, who would go on to win his second straight scoring title, with 154 points, seven more than Sobchuk.
In his freshman season (1971-72), Sobchuk totalled 123 points, including 56 goals, in 68 games, and was named the WCHL’s rookie of the year.
He would play one more season with the Pats (1973-74), putting up 146 points, including 68 goals, in 66 game and helping Regina to a Memorial Cup title.
In three seasons with the Pats, he finished with 416 points, 191 of them goals, in 190 regular-season games. He placed fifth, second and second in the scoring race.
Sobchuk had won the Saskatchewan Amateur Junior Hockey League’s scoring title in 1970-71 when he finished with 96 points, including 56 goals, in 36 games with the Weyburn Red Wings. At that time, his WCHL rights belonged to the Estevan Bruins, who were about to move to New Westminster.
On July 7, 1971, Del Wilson, the Pats’ president and general manager, acquired Sobchuk from New Westminster, sending F Emile DeMoissac, F Wayne Dye, D Bob Hess, F Doug Lindskog and F Vic Mercredi the other way.
DeMoissac, Hess and Mercredi would be key performers for the Bruins, although all had moved on before their four-season run (1974-78) as WHL champions.
By November 1986, Sobchuk was the Pats’ assistant GM and assistant coach. One night, he and I chatted about his 10-point outing.
“Funny thing,” he recalled. “I didn’t realize it but they had a guy shadowing me that night. When the people clapped for me at the end of the game, Brandon — I talked to a few of the players in later years — they were going to push the guy who was supposed to be the shadow out there to take a bow with me.
“But it was just one of those nights. Whenever you shot the puck it went in. It was a crazy night.”
I asked Sobchuk just how big a thrill it was.
“I still have the stick,” he replied.
Two nights later, the Pats and Wheat Kings met in Brandon, with Regina skating away with a 5-4 victory. F Rick Uhrich had three goals. Sobchuk had one assist.
The Swift Current Broncos announced on Thursday that tonight’s game against the visiting Regina Pats, aka the Travelling Bedards, is sold out. . . .
F Chaz Lucius, 19, has joined the Portland Winterhawks and is expected to make his WHL debut tonight against the visiting Victoria Royals. Lucius, who starred with Team USA at the recent World Junior Championship, had been with the AHL’s Manitoba Moose. The NHL’s Winnipeg Jets assigned him to Portland after the WJC. . . .
F Gabriel Szturc, a 19-year-old from Cesky Tesin, Czechia, was named the 28th captain of the Kelowna Rockets on Thursday, replacing Colton Dach, who was traded to the Seattle Thunderbirds earlier this month. Szturc is the first European-born captain in the Rockets’ franchise history. Four of Szturc’s first five games as captain will be against the Vancouver Giants, starting tonight in Langley, B.C., and Saturday in Kelowna. . . .
F Ben King of the Red Deer Rebels, who led the WHL with 52 goals last season, has 10 points, five of them goals, in five games this season. But he hasn’t played since suffering an undisclosed injury on Oct. 22. It seems that he may return tonight against the visiting Prince George Cougars or Saturday with the Brandon Wheat Kings in town.
WEDNESDAY’S WHL HIGHLIGHTS:
D Max Wanner’s eighth goal at 0:45 of OT gave the Moose Jaw Warriors a 5-4 victory over the Blades in Saskatoon and a sweep of their home-and-home series. The Warriors had won, 3-1, at home on Tuesday. . . . The victory allowed the Warriors (28-14-2) to move into a third-place tie with the Blades (27-9-4) in the Eastern Conference. The Blades hold four games in hand. . . . F Atley Calvert led the Warriors with two goals and two assists. He has 25 goals and 25 assists in 44 games after finishing last season with 15 and 25 in 65. He went into last night’s game with 98 career points and came out with 102, all in 146 games. . . . Last night, the Blades outshot the visitors, 43-17, including 16-2 in the third period. . . . The Warriors trail Eastern Conference-leading Winnipeg (31-5-1) by five points and visit the Ice tonight and Saturday. However, the Ice holds seven — count ’em, SEVEN — games in hand. . . .
F Connor McClennon and F Zach Benson each had a goal and three assists as the Winnipeg Ice lit up the Raiders, 8-1, in Prince Albert. . . . Benson has 24 goals; McClennon has 21. . . . Ice F Connor Geekie scored his 20th goal of the season. . . . The Ice held a 39-16 edge in shots. . . .
The Medicine Hat Tigers scored three times in a six-round shootout and beat the Broncos, 5-4, in Swift Current. . . . Three second-period goals had given the Tigers a 4-2 lead, but the Broncos pulled even on third-period scores from F Josh Filmon (28) and F Connor Hvidston (9). . . . Hvidston also had two assists, and Filmon finished with two goals and a helper. . . . Latvian D Bogdans Hodass scored twice for the Tigers, giving him seven this season. . . . The Tigers (17-21-6) closed to within two points of the Broncos (20-17-2), who hold down the Eastern Conference’s last playoff spot. Those two teams are to play in Medicine Hat on Sunday. That will be the Broncos’ third game in fewer than 48 hours. . . .
The Prince George Cougars came from behind four times before finally beating the host Calgary Hitmen, 6-5. . . . With the NHL’s Flames playing host to the Colorado Avalanche in the Saddledome, the WHL game was played at the Seven Chiefs Sportsplex. . . . Prince George scored the game’s last three goals, all in the third period. F Jaxsen Wiebe (7) got the winner at 14:42, his second of the game. F Koehn Ziemmer (22) also scored twice for the winners. . . . The Cougars, who fired 21 shots in each of the last two periods, outshot the Hitmen, 51-35. . . .
F Ben Hemmerling scored twice, including in OT, and added two assists as the host Everett Silvertips beat the Lethbridge Hurricanes, 4-3. . . . Hemmerling’s 14th goal came at 3:36 of extra time. . . . Hemmerling, who now has had two four-point games in his WHL career, has three goals and six assists in his past four games. . . . The Tri-City Americans erased a 4-0 first-period deficit and beat the Victoria Royals, 5-4, in Kennewick, Wash. . . . F Ethan Ernst (21) scored twice for the Americans, his second goal, at 13:54 of the third period, breaking a 4-4 tie. . . . F Matthew Hodson (13) scored twice for Victoria. . . . The Americans (19-16-4) are fifth in the Western Conference, one point behind the Everett Silverips (21-19-1).
THINKING OUT LOUD: I yearn for the days when I could look at NHL highlights and recognize teams by their uniforms. . . . David Adelman is the acting head coach of the NBA’s Denver Nuggets these days. That’s because head coach Michael Malone is away because of health and safety protocols. Yes, COVID-19 has reared its ugly head, again. Three Denver players — Bones Hyland, Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray — have spent time in protocol this season, too. And you thought the pandemic was over, didn’t you? Mask up!
If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:
Living Kidney Donor Program
St. Paul’s Hospital
6A Providence Building
1081 Burrard Street
Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6
Toll free: 1-877-922-9822
Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney
Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre
Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street
Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9
604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182
Or, for more information, visit right here.