REGINA PAT ALUMNI -
GORD "THE RED BARON" "RED" BERENSON
On Monday, March 26, ex-Regina Pats Gord "Red" Berenson signed with the Montreal Canadiens after playing with the University of Michigan for the last 3 years. With Michigan he scored 79 goals in 84 league games. He was an All-American the last two years.
He played with the Montreal Canadiens 1961-66, New York Rangers 1966-1969, St. Louis Blues 1968-70, Detroit Red Wings 1971-74 and again with the St. Louis Blues 1975-78. He was with the Montreal Canadien Stanley Cup Champions in 1965, was Captain of St. Louis 1970-71 and 1977-78 seasons, and Coached St. Louis Blues in the 1979-82 seasons. Was an assistant coach with the Buffalo Sabres under Scotty Bowman in the 1982-1984 seasons. Berenson played in 987 games, scored 261 goals, had 397 assists for 658 points, and played in 85 play-off games.
In 1984 Berenson received an opportunity to coach at the University of Michigan. As of 2007, he was in his 24th season, winning 9 Conference Titles and 2 NCAA. He has coached in 967 games, winning 611 games, losing 292 games and tying in 64 games.
Gordon played for the Regina Pats during the 1955-58 seasons. He played in 3 Memorial Cups, 1956, 1958 with the Regina Pats and 1959 with the Flin Flon Bombers as a pick-up player from the Regina Pats. He was inducted into the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame, June 17, 2000.
By: Darrell Davis, Regina Leader Post Sports Departments
Darrell was my Co-Arthur in my Regina Pats Book, November, 2009
Published: Monday, April 07, 2008
REGINA, Saskatchewan - Gordon (Red) Berenson, who used to sneak into Regina's Exhibition Stadium for early morning skate-arounds, remains so enamoured with hockey that he's capping his 24th season as coach of the University of Michigan with another appearance in U.S. college hockey's ultimate showdown.
"I came here because I was a little bored,'' said Berenson, a Michigan alumnus ('62) after spending two-plus seasons in junior hockey with the Regina Pats.
"I was in Buffalo (as an assistant coach with the NHL's Sabres) at the time and we had a good, young team. I got the opportunity to come back here. I thought it would be a good challenge, but I never thought it would be my retirement job. It's worked out really well.''
Michigan, the top-ranked team in NCAA ice hockey, opens the Frozen Four playoffs in Denver with a semifinal Thursday against Notre Dame.
The winner advances to the U.S. collegiate final Saturday against the winner of the other semifinal, featuring the University of North Dakota against Boston College.
"It's like going into the Stanley Cup finals for us,'' said Berenson, who is a nominee for the Spencer Penrose Award as the NCAA's top coach. "This is what you play all year for. If you can get to the Frozen Four, that's where people will remember your team forever, or they won't.
"It's all about your oppourtunity. Our kids are working hard and they're excited. They're a team that wasn't supposed to be there. Nobody, nobody expected this team would make it to the Frozen Four. We're kind of the surprise team.''
On a youthful squad that boasts 12 freshmen, Michigan features senior forward/captain Kevin Porter, one of three finalists for the Hobey Baker Award as the nation's top college player.
Porter is one of 15 Wolverines from Michigan. Only three Canadians are on Michigan's roster, which also features a pair of defenceman who were first-round draft choices by NHL teams -- Mark Mitera (Anaheim) and Chris Summers (Phoenix).
"Porter's from Detroit and has been a good player all the way up, but boy, when he got the C on his jersey he took everything to another level,'' said Berenson.
"He could have turned pro, but he opted to stay for his senior year even though he knew the team probably wouldn't be as good. Boy, has he ever made it good!''
Michigan hasn't qualified for the Frozen Four since 1998, when the Wolverines won their second national championship in three years. Berenson has led the team to 10 appearances in the Frozen Four while accumulating an overall record of 644-297-68 since 1984.
Berenson was in Regina earlier this month. Although he returns home every summer to visit friends, his recent visit sent him to Regina Beach for the funeral of his mother, Marjorie, who died at the age of 92. While in Regina he stopped to see the Brandt Centre, home of the Western Hockey League's Pats, without realizing decrepit Exhibition Stadium was still standing nearby.
"When I was a kid, really a kid, like 11 years old, my mom would wake me up at 5 (a.m.) so I could get to the stadium every Saturday morning,'' said Berenson. "I knew how to get into the stadium. I would go in there and skate in the dark until the games started at 8. That was my favourite day -- I couldn't wait for Saturday morning.''
Berenson ultimately joined the Regina Pats farm system, playing midget and juvenile hockey before being recruited by legendary coach Murray Armstrong to join the team for its playoff run into the 1955-56 Memorial Cup final, a loss against the Toronto Marlboros.
"Mike Kartusch, Del Wilson and Jack Staples -- they were all very prominent in minor hockey for all the kids of our era. I really appreciate that,'' said Berenson, 68.
"I feel really fortunate to have grown up in Regina, to have played minor sports there, and to have been touched by so many people.''
Berenson played two more seasons with the Pats, reaching another Candian final in 1958 on a team that included other future NHLers Murray Balfour, Bill Hicke and Terry Harper. Coached by Frank Mario, the Pats lost the best-of-seven Memorial Cup final 4-2 to the Ottawa/Hull Candiens.
Berenson eschewed pursuing a pro career to get a college education, which was a controversial decision at the time.
After an All-America playing career at Michigan, he spent 17 seasons in the NHL, winning a Stanley Cup with Montreal in 1965 before playing with the New York Rangers, St. Louis Blues and Detroit Red Wings. With St. Louis, Berenson appeared in three straight Stanley Cup finals, was voted the West Division's best player and scored six goals in one 1968 game against the Philadelphia Flyers.
He retired as a player in 1978 and, after 1 1/2 seasons as an assistant coach, became the Blues' head coach. He was named the NHL's top coach in 1980-81.