Thursday, April 22, 2010

REGINA PATS - FRANK "BUZZ" BOLL REMEMBERS - AL RITCHIE

Following is taken from the book, "Saskatchewan 80 Years of Puck Chasing", By permission: of Brenda and Joseph Zeman

Al was a very interesting man.

He held fort in the Balmoral Cafe' and would sit up most of the night telling stories and drawing diagrams with a pencil of plays on Nick Pappas' napkins which by the way, were linen. Al's theory was very simple he would say, "If they can't score on you they can't beat you." We never had a lot of scrimmages, as we only had eleven players.

(Photo: Buzz Boll - Sask. Hall of Fame & Museum)

By the way, I don't think Al could skate as he always appeared on the ice with a pair of four buckle overshoes, a coon skin coat, a hockey stick and sometime a big cigar.

Ritchie would, for instance, have us practice skating a man out of the play. We would practice one on one until everyone was able to take out a man as he should be taken out. He would have you do things over and over until it just became automatic. If you were on the offense, as soon as you lost the puck, you had better get in position to back-check.

His theory worked really well, in six playoff games against Calgary, Winnipeg and Toronto we had three goals scored against us and we managed to score nineteen.

I think you could say that Al Ritchie was a great coach in teaching fundamentals. It seems to me that all the teams he coached, whether hockey or football, got along well together.

Offensive practice consisted of a line rushing on the defense, with a wing man taking out the offensive wing man, then we would practice with two wing men back-checking. He had many variations and covered every situation you could think of in a hockey game.

I knew a lot of football players who played for him, and I never heard a lot of squawking about the coach. I attended a Grey Cup game in Montreal when Fred Wilson was manager and Al Ritchie was coach. The Riders played the Winged Wheelers on a football field that was like a skating rink.

The Pats back then really did not have much of a league to play in. Most of our games were exhibition games against the Vics and Aces, who were senior clubs, Swift Current and Mossomin had top intermediate teams. We also went to Edmonton and played a couple of their Junior teams, and won both games.

Personally, I was pretty busy with studies, Regina Pats practices, games, and played some games with the Pat "B" team. I also played hockey for the Normal School.

Junior hockey was no big thing in those days until you won the Provincial Championship.

The smaller places like, Moose Jaw, Weyburn, Swift Current and Moosomin, supported hockey better. You must also remember that in those years there was very little money. Pete Egan and Brix Peebles were our financiers as far as I can remember. We were in Winnipeg for a couple of weeks. Pete was manager of the Capital Theatre in Regina, so he arranged for us to go to the picture shows in Winnipeg. We ate at a restaurant and we singed the bills. They fed us really well.

As for how it felt to win the Junior Championship - I really do not think we realized what we had done. We had a big night in the Stadium and received plaques plus Longine Watches.

I played Senior Hockey the next winter in Weyburn in the Big Six. Then went to the Toronto Maple Leafs in May, 1931.

In the fall of 1929, Regina Pats and the Regina Argos amalgamated under the Pats name. The Argos were a junior team that was run by the late Father Athol Murray from Notre Dame College, Wilcox, Saskatchewan.

Ralph Redding from Craik and myself were the only two out-of-town kids to try out with the team."

Buzz Boll went onto play for the Syracuse Stars in the International Hockey League (IHL) from 1931-32 to 1932-33, Toronto Maple Leafs (NHL) 1932-33 to 1938-39, New York Americans (NHL) 1939-40 to 1940-41, Brooklyn Americans (NHL) 1941-42 and Boston Bruins (NHL) 1942-43 to 1943-44. Buzz also did some coaching with the Foam Lake Flyers Seniors of Saskatchewan in the late 1940's. (Photo: Hockey Hall of Fame - HHOF-000021-000005023)

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Frank "Buzz" BOLL, was born on the 06 March 1911, in the town of Fillmore, Saskatchewan, and died on the 01 January 1990.

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