Friday, February 3, 2012

1977-1978 - SEASON

The Western Canada Hockey League (WCHL) changed its name to the Western Hockey League (WHL) it was announced Tuesday, September 5, 1978, by present Ed Chynowrth. It was decided to eliminate “Canada” from the name as three of the 12 teams were based in the United States.

During the off season, several of the team franchises were moved. Calgary Centennials hired general manager Bob Strumm, former Saskatoon Star-Phoenix sports writer. Owner Dick Koentges moved the franchise to Billings, Montana. He hired Dave King as the coach, renamed the club the Bighorns and played in the brand new 8,600 seat Yellowstone Metra Arena. Gerry Brisson transferred Winnipeg monarchs to Calgary, where they were renamed the Wranglers. The majority owner Ephrain Strinke was not satisfied with the local arena and moved the Kamloops franchise to Seattle and renamed the team the Breakers.

1977-1978 REGINA PATS ROSTER - Goalies: Pat Ansell, Greg Dumba Defense: Darren Veitch, Kevin Krook, Trevor Bowering, Gord Wappel, Chris Kilcher, Myles Tangedal, Jim Turner, Gilles Choquet, Dave Downton, Tim Wicijowski, Doug Korman Centre: Gerald Minor (Captain), Doug Wickenheiser, Clark Bacala, Larry Ell, Mike Blaisdell, Rod Yaworski, John Eger, Wayne Wagner, Doyle Wankel Right Wing: Dirk Graham, Erle Switzer, Gary Slezak, Scott Kolewaski, Brent Pascal, Mike Blaisdell, James Pearson, Kevin Clackson Left Wing: Gerry Galloway, Ron Parent, Larry Ell, Bill Ansell, Paul Hogan, Scott Miller N/L: Mike Cooper, Cliff McKay Coach: Lorne Davis Trainer: Norm Fong Statisticians: Bill Huckulak, Ron "Scoreboard" Johnston

On Thursday, September 29, at Billings, Regina Pats stopped their winless streak on the road at 37 games by downing Billings Bighorns 6-3. Pats played their premier hockey game in the new Agridome on Sunday, October 2, against the Saskatoon Blades before 4,200 observers. At the Agridome on Wednesday, November 9, Gerald Minor tied a WHL record as he scored his third consecutive hat trick before 2,606 cheering fans.

The Moscow Selects played the WHL all-stars at the Agridome on Friday, December 9, The Selects edged the all-stars 6-5.

Before the Pats played the Saskatoon Blades on Sunday, February 12, one minute silence was observed in honour of ex-Leader Post sports writer Ron Campbell who died on Saturday. Ron started covering the Pats games back in the 1958-59 season and finished twelve years later in the 1969 season.

Regina Pats finished in third place in the Eastern Division with 63 points. Gerald Minor of the Regina Pats finished 7th in the scoring race with 54 goals 75 assists for 129 points. Regina Pats Awards: Doug Wickenheiser, Most Sportsmanlike Player (Hub Bishop Memorial Trophy); Gerry Galloway, Rookie of the Year (Nick Pappas Memorial Trophy); Darren Veitch, Top Defenseman (Charles Johnston Memorial Trophy); Gerald Minor, Most Valuable Player (Barkers Trophy) and also Pats Top Scorer Award; Dirk Graham and Larry Ell, Tied, Unsung Hero (Booster Club Award)

ROUND ROBIN SEMI-FINAL - Sunday, March 26, Regina Pats shut down the Brandon Wheat Kings top line winning a 3-2 overtime victory, in front of 2,451, at Keystone Centre. Mike Blaisdell, was brought up from Pat Blues. It was his goal at 10:49 of the first sudden-death overtime period that gave the Pats the victory. It was only his sixth game with the Pats. The teams fought through a scoreless first period. Brandon had a 1-0 lead going into the third and upped it to 2-0 before Doug Wickenheiser scored and Paul Hogan scored the tying goal at 10:28. Pats' line of Larry Ell, Paul Hogan and Erie Switzer had the assignment of checking the Brandon scoring kings of Laurie Boschman, Bill Derlago and Ray Allison. Brandon had lost only two home games all season and had been undefeated in 20 consecutive games prior to the game.

Friday, March 31, Wheat Kings scored four goals in a span of three minutes and 46 seconds in the third period to edge the Pats 9-8 in a high scoring affair at the Regina Agridome, before 5,300 spectators. The turning point came prior to the Wheat Kings' four goal outburst, both teams were tied 5-5. Brandon had been disallowed a goal. "The players got peeved." said coach Dunc McCallum. It pumped the club and they came alive. That made the score 9-5 by the 8:11 mark, then Pats came back with 3 of their own goals. Centre Bill Derlago came out of his slump as he scored three goals and had two assists for Brandon. Regina's line of Gerry Galloway, Gerald Minor and Dirk Graham accounted for six of Pat goals.

Sunday, April 2, For the second game in a row the Pats, quit in the third period as Flin Flon downed Regina 8-5 at the Agridome. Both teams were tied 3-3 after the first period. Regina trailed 6-5 going into the final stanza. For the Bombers, they had eight players involved in the scoring. For the Pats, Doug Wickenheiser had two goals and Paul Hogan scored two goals and had one assist.

Tuesday, April 4, Regina missed numerous chances at Brandon and it cost them a 5-1 defeat. Frustration was all over the Pat players' faces. Regina hit the Kings goal post six times, three in the opening frame. Bill Derlago scored two goals, both in the first period as Brandon took a 2-0 lead into the second period and lead 3-1 after the second. Kevin Krook scored Pats only goal at the 15:40 mark. Brandon's Brad Kempthorne also had 2 goals.

Wednesday, April 5, Regina had a 1-3 record and their chances looked dim going into the Flin Flon centre. They had not won a game in two years in the mining city. Pats went on to defeat the Bombers 6-2. It was Regina's goalie Greg Dumba who kept Regina in the game. He had 36 shots peppered at him and was tested severely on almost every Flin Flon shot. They were tied 1-1 and 4-1 after the second. Gerald Minor's shorthanded goal 32 second into the third period took all the steam out of Flin Flon. Pats scored 5 straight goals before Flin Flon scored at 15:56 of the third period.

Thursday, April 6, Bombers downed Pats 9-3 at Flin Flon. Regina having a man advantage in the middle stanza for five minutes backfired. Jordy Douglas and Ray Markham scored shorthanded goals and the period ended 5-1 for the home club. "That killed us." said coach Lorne Davis after the game. Flin Flon's Ray Markham and Regina Pats' Paul Hogan had two goals each. The Bombers lead 3-1 after the first period.

Saturday, April 8, Regina Pats downed Brandon Wheat Kings 7-5 at the Regina Agridome. Gerald Minor had the job of shadowing Bill Derlago throughout the game and it paid off as Minor scored three times and had another three assists while all Derlago could muster was one assist. Brandon took a 3-2 first lead only to have Regina Pats come back and take a 4-3 lead into the final period. Erle Switzer scored an empty net goal with 8 seconds left in the game.

Monday, April 10, it was do or die for Pats, they had to win by six goals or more to eliminate Brandon and they did just that. The final buzzer showed the scoreboard as Regina 10 Flin Flon 4. The Bombers did not play their usual game; they did not play rough, only scoring when needed. Pats led 4-0 after the opening frame. The (4,650) Agridome fans could smell the trend that was coming already. After the second period, Regina had the edge 7-4. The Bombers then reverted to the first period style, allowing Pats to outscore them 3-0. The big gun for Regina was Dirk Graham with four goals. Brandon could only blame themselves as they lost 9-2 at home against the Bombers.

Flin Flon Bombers4446438Plus3
Regina Pats4443448Minus1
Brandon Wheat Kings4440428Minus2

EASTERN DIVISION LEAGUE FINAL - Tuesday, April 11Flin Flon was a different team, downing the visiting Regina Pats 7-3. The clubs were tied 1-1 after the first period. It was the middle frame, that made the big difference as the Bombers out scored Regina 4-0 and out shot them 33-10. Pats had a complete breakdown. Early in the third, Regina scored 2 break-a-away goals; the first, Larry Ell in the opening minutes when Pats were short a man and Ron Parent scored the other. Bombers top scorer was Ray Markham with 2 goals and assisting on another.

Wednesday, April 12, Regina Pats lost in a high scoring 11-9 affair at Flin Flon. Bombers led 4-1 after the first. With the help of four goals in less than four minutes in the first half of the middle frame, both clubs came out tied 6-6. With the home club leading 10-9, Pats coach-manager Lorne Davis pulled goalie Pat Ansell for an extra attacker only to have it backfire as the Bombers Glen Hiales scored into an empty net with 34 seconds remaining. Regina's Paul Hogan had a 6 point outing scoring 3 goals and 3 assists while Dirk Graham had 3 goals and 2 assists. Greg Tebbutt also tallied 3 times and had 3 assists for the Bombers.

Friday, April 14, Flin Flon's Ray Markham's big goal at 9:42 of overtime gave the Bombers a 4-3 lift over the Pats in front of 4,397at the Regina Agridome. Bombers' Mel Biluk shot the puck into the Pats zone, with defenseman Doug Korman draped all over him but he was able to shovel the puck over to Markham. Dirk Graham was all over Markham but the Flin Flon centre was a ble to change the direction of the puck passed net minder Pat Ansell. Bombers' Jordy Douglas' third goals tied the game at 8:38 of the third period to force overtime.

Saturday, April 15, Bombers; Guy Bohmer took but one shift and received two minor penalties, two majors, plus a game misconduct and it hurt his team. At the Agridome the Pats went on to defeat Flin Flon 9-6. The fracas started in the midway point of the third period with Regina's Dirk Graham and Bohmer. Players left the players bench and the final result was eight game misconducts. Dirk Graham scored three goals for Pats, the big one being at 0:27 of the third. It started Regina with three straight goals to put the game out of reach.

Sunday, April 16, Regina Pats season came to an end as Flin Flon downed the Pats 5-3 at the Agridome before 4,970 fans, to win the Eastern Division Final. Regina had a 2-1 lead going into the second period only to have the Bombers outscore Regina 3-1 in the middle frame. In the dying minutes, the Pats pulled goalie Pat Ansell for an extra attacker only to have Bombers' Jody Douglas score into the empty net with 10 seconds remaining.

Flin Flon Bombers went on and lost out to New Westminster Bruins in the League final round robin with the Billings Bighorns. The Memorial Cup Tournament was played at both Sault Ste. Marie Memorial Gardens and Sudbury Community Arena that year. It was Peterborough Petes (OHA) and Trois-Rivieres Draveurs (QMJHL) the other two teams.

Stick Boy: Al Wielgoz Front Row: Pat Ansell, Gerry Galloway, Erle Switzer, Lorne Davis (Coach & General Manager), Gerry Minor, Dirk Graham, Greg Dumba Second Row: Norm Fong (Head Trainer), Darren Veitch, Kevin Clackson, Kevin Krook, Doug Wickenheiser, Gord Wappel, Jim Pearson, Randy Pollock (Assistant Trainer) Back Row: Ron Parent, Clark Bacala, Trevor Bowering, Doug Korman, Paul Hogan, Larry Ell (Photo: Marcia Wickenheiser – Collection)