Silver anniversaries coming up for Flyers and Twins
By Tom Annelin
As 2013 draws to a close, the New Year will mark a number of significant milestones in the hockey history of Thunder Bay and area.
Silver lining: 2014 will mark the silver anniversary of the Thunder Bay Flyers winning everything that was attainable during the course of the 1988-89 junior campaign.
The Dave Siciliano coached side first claimed the United States Hockey League Clark Cup title before sweeping the Sudbury Cubs and Pembroke Lumber Kings to earn the Dudley-Hewitt Cup Central Canadian crown.
Advancing to the Centennial Cup (now RBC Cup) national event in Summerside, P.E.I., the Flyers went on to defeat the host Summerside Western Capitals 4-1 in the championship game to bring the title back to the Lakehead.
High Flyer: Not only will it be 25 years since the Thunder Bay Flyers won the Centennial Cup national junior A title it will also be a quarter century ago that Thunder Bay standout Greg Johnson was named the top player in all of Jr. A hockey across Canada.
Johnson starred on that Flyers squad that won it all before he moved on to a stellar NCAA career at the University of North Dakota and a successful 785-game run in the NHL with Detroit, Pittsburgh, Chicago and Nashville.
The new year will also mark the 20th anniversary of Johnson helping Canada garner a silver medal at the 2004 Winter Olympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway.
He contributed assists in both Canada’s 5-3 semifinal victory over Finland as well as a helper in the 3-2 shootout setback to Sweden in the gold medal contest.
Make it five: Not only was 1989 a banner year in the junior ranksfor the Lakehead, the Thunder Bay Twins won their fifth Allan Cup senior title that season.
That squad will also celebrate their 25th anniversary as national champions in 2014.
Breezing to a CASH league-record 23-0 regular season, Thunder Bay continued to produce victories from there.
After disposing of Montreal Chomedy in the Allan Cup semifinal, the Twins went on to sweep the rival St. Boniface Mohawks in two straight games to win it all on Fort William Gardens ice.
Head coach of that team, which was put together by the late and legendary Gary Cook, was current Lakehead University Thunderwolves bench boss Bill McDonald.
Sharp stat: From the statistical gurus at Elias Sports Bureau comes an interesting fact on Patrick Sharp celebrating his 32nd birthday by scoring three goals and adding an assist in the Chicago Blackhawks 7-2 romp over the Colorado Avalanche on Dec. 27.
His outstanding effort made him only the second NHL player in the last 22 seasons to notch a hat trick on his birthday.
The only other skater to accomplish that feat was the late Pavol Demitra, who tallied three times on his 28th birthday back on Nov. 29, 2002 to lead the St. Louis Blues to a 7-2 triumph over the Calgary Flames.
The last NHLer to earn a birthday hat trick at 32 or older was Gilbert Perreault at age 33.
The Buffalo Sabres Hall of Famer did it in an 11-2 dousing of the Flames on Nov. 13, 1983.
Weekly website: The governing body of Junior A hockey nationally is the Canadian Junior Hockey League.
This past week they launched a newlook website, which is to feature news, notes, statistics and other relevant information on the 10 leagues, including the SIJHL, that comprise the 128-team CJHL.
You can learn more on the CJHL by visiting their updated website at www.cjhlhockey.com.
(Tom Annelin’s column appears Monday’s in The Chronicle-Journal. You can contact Tom at email@example.com)