Friday, February 3, 2012



MURRAY "The Chief"

by Ron C. Johnston

Will Klein, ex-part owner of the Regina Pats (1979-1983): "I remember Murray Armstrong very well, having spent a good deal of my teenage years shooting pool at the National Billiards on the 1800 block Scarth Street in Regina." (Photo: Murray Armstrong - Denver University)

Murray Armstrong: "It was owned by Jack Farquarson and he sold me a half interest in it.

Farquarson and I, along with ex-Pats Eddie Litzenberger, were awesome pool players as was another senior guy named Joe Young who lost 2 or 3 fingers on one hand but was almost unbeatable at skittles pool."

"The 'National' was the hangout for all local sports teams and visiting hockey teams at junior and senior levels, along with the (CFL) Canadian Football Teams. That was the place Murray could keep his eyes on the young Pats." stated Will Klein.

In 1957, after nine successful years at the helm, Coach Murray Armstrong left the Regina Pats for a coaching job at Denver University. He took with him a number of Pat players including John Hudson, Orville Off (team captain for one or two seasons), and Bill "Red" Hay, among others. They built a dynasty in the U.S.A. collegiate hockey circles which is in place to this day.

Murray Armstrong wrote me (the writer) and said, "My 21 year coaching career was great at the U of Denver and I had many good boys from Saskatchewan and the Pats. We went to the U.S. Championship Finals 11 times and won 5 Championships. In those 21 years the team won 463 games, lost 215, and tied 31 games. When I went to Denver University I told the Athletic Director, Mr. E. Wieman, "I'll give you a National Championship in three years or I will resign.' I got the National Championship in the second year. I turned down a chance from Muzz Patrick to coach the New York Rangers. I was happy in Denver." His initial salary at Denver University in 1956 was $7,000. "That was a lot of money back then!" Armstrong said. "It wasn't what I was making coaching in Regina, Saskatchewan, with the Junior Pats) and playing (for eight years) in the NHL, but I thought it would be a tremendous opportunity to coach at Denver, and I'm glad I did."

Will Klein: "Other major universities who were keen on hockey were North Dakota, Fargo-Moorhead, Minnesota, Wisconsin, along with Michigan (coached by a great ex-Pat, Red Berenson) and northeastern colleges followed suit because their team, manned by U.S. kids, could not keep up. That, of course, has changed over the years. To this day, Armstrong is considered the guru of them all."Murray stated: "I grew up in the small town of Semans, Saskatchewan, (about 125 kilometres north of Regina, born in 1916). My father was a blacksmith. They had a closed-in ring. I can remember playing there till I was 12, then we moved to Regina where I started playing in organized hockey." At 16, he was playing for the Regina Pats under Al Ritchie. (Photo: Wil Klein - Collection)

Under Armstrong, the Regina Pats never finished worse than third place. He mastermined the Regina Pats Hockey Club to the Memorial Cup Final in 1949-50, 1951-52, 1954-55 and 1955-56, as well as the Abbott Cup Finalists in 1950-51. Murray played for the Regina Pats 1931-32 to 1934-35 when the club folded. He then went on and played with the New York Americans 1939 to 1942, the Detroit Red Wings from 1943 to 1946 and then became a journeyman. In 1974 Armstrong was inducted into the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame, received the 1976 Denver U.S.A. Citizen by Choice Award and the Lester Patrick Trophy in New York in 1977. In his honor, Denver University commissioned a life-size bronze statue of Armstrong. He was inducted into the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame on March 21, 1981.

Armstrong said: "I don't see very well, I can't drive. I still golf a bit with my wife at least one day a week, playing 18 holes of golf. She'll tell me where the ball is sometimes or how far the green is. We've been golfing since we were married, which will be 67 years on the 21st of March 2009." He met his wife, Freda, who is two years old then he is, when he was playing professional hockey in the International Hockey League with the Syracuse Stars during the 1936-37 season. ..... (Photo: Bronze Statue of "The Chief" standing in front of the Ritchie Centre - Denver University, was erected 03 August 1990)

Murray retired to Venice, Florida, in 1977 , and as of the year 2009 Murray (93), and his wife Freda (95), are living in St. Augustine, Florida. He is the oldest Regina Pat living player and coach todate.

Armstrong won the Spencer T. Penrose Award (University Coach of the Year) during the 1960-61 and 1967-68 season. Inducted into the Colorado Sports Hall of fame in 1974. Inducted into the Denver University Hall of Fame, 1996 as a hockey coach (1956-77). Inducted into the Regina Sports Hall of Fame in 2004 and the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame in 2006, plus the Regina Pats Major Junior Hockey Hall of Fame.

1956-1957 - Season - The Alberta partners (Lethbridge Native Sons and Medicine Hat Tigers) dropped out of the League and the WCJHL was disbanded.

Del Wilson, Regina Pats Assistant Coach, received a promotion from the Montreal Canadiens to the position of Chief Western Scout and became the General Manager of the Regina Pats. The new Pat Coach, Frank Mario, a local Regina product, coached the Senior Cornwall Flyers in the Ontario Senior League from 1953 to 1956. (Photo: Del Wilson)

The Northern Manitoba Mining town of Flin Flon only had five losses in 55 League games. On Wednesday, February 20, Regina Pats downed the Bombers 4-2. The win stopped Flin Flon's undefeated streak at 33 games, 31 wins, 2 ties. During the season Flin Flon's goalies George Wood recorded his 11th shutout of the season on February 26th, against the Regina Pats.

1956-1957 Regina Pats Roster - Goalies: Ken Walters, Vaugh Hensrud Defense: Marty Howe (Captain), Grant Munro, Murray Swanson, John Palenstein, Dave Boa, Wilf Stetner Centre: Bryan "The Yo-Yo-Kid" Whittal, Gord "Red" Berenson, Jon Art, Bill Kelly, Bill LeCaine, Max Geisthardt Right Wing: Billy "The Kid" Hicke, Bill LeCaine, Jerry Kolb, John Ivanitz, Larry Morrison Left Wing: Tony Kohlman, Joe Lunghamer, Gary Butler, Max Geisthardt, Jerome Walker Position Not Known: Wilf McDougal, Aubrey Burlock Coach: Frank Mario Trainer: Sandy Archer General Manager: Del Wilson

Players Pictures - Taken from the program: supplied by: Dale "Scorecard" Richter

Frank Mario (Coach), # 1. Ken Walters, # 1. Vaugh Hensrud

# 3. Grant Munro, # 4. Murray Swanston, # 5. John Palenstein

# 6. Marty Howe, # 7. Gord Berenson, # 8. Joe Lunghamer

# 9. Bill LeCaine, #10. Tony Kollman, # 11. Jerome Walker

# 12. Aubrey Burlock, # 14. Wilf Stetner, # 16. Gerry Kolb

# 17. Billy Hicke, # 18. Gary Butler, # 19. Bryan Whittal

League Semi-Final - Thursday, February 28, Regina Pats took a 5-3 victory over third place Prince Albert Mintos at the Regina Stadium. The fans saw a pair of Regina 17 year old standouts; Ken Walter in goal, while the redhead centre Gord "Red" Berenson scored two goals and one assist. Berenson scored his first at 5:53 and, forty seconds later, Mintos Lloyd Maxfield tied the game. Pats Billy Hicke was credited with the next goal when Dave Balon tried clearing the puck only to have it directed into his own net at 10:34. Five minutes later Gary Butler made it 3-1 for Regina after the first period.

Mintos Reg Primeau scored at 12:11 when Marty Howe was off for tripping. Berenson then scored his second goal at 15:55. in the third period Prince Albert's Harvey Aadland scored at 7:43 and Regina Pats Jerry Kolb at 8:35.

Saturday, March 2, Regina Pats and Prince Albert fought to a 3-3 overtime tie. Regina's Defenseman Grant Munro scored two overtime goals, the first at 3:39 to give Regina the lead, the second snatched the victory from the Pats. It was eight seconds before the final buzzer and he became the goat in the eyes of many fans. Dave Balon, a doubtful Minto starter performing with an ankle injury, was credited with the goal that Munro inadvertently steered into his own net.

Regina Pats Billy Hicke scored the only first period goal at 18:04 on one of his typical end-to-end rushes. Hicke made it 2-0 scoring his second goal in the second period at the 1:01 mark. Balon scored his first goal at 5:13 on a shot inside of the blue line that was partially screened. In the third period Paul Josephson tied the game at 8:33 on a deflection that dribbled into the net causing the overtime.

Monday, March 4, Minto fans saw coach Ken Ullyot's club take a 4-2 victory over Frank Mario's Pats. Coach Mario was upset at his boys as they were standing around watching the Mintos score their first three goals in the first period. Chuck Balon deflected Harvey Aadland's hard slapshot at 4:28 then at 8:00 Lloyd Maxwell banged in Orland Kurtenback's rebound. The third goal was by Paul Josephson when he picked up a loose puck and shot it into the high corner of the net.

In the seond period at the 2:23 mark, Pats' Bryan Whittal slapped the puck in as it bounced off Minto's goalie Ken Kuntz. Prince Albert's Paul Josephson scored his second goal at 13:02. The only goal in the third period had Pats John Palenstein score with only 44 seconds remaining on a long shot.

Wednesday, March 6, Prince Albert showed a tough checking display and hustled to a convincing 6-2 decision over Regina at Prince Albert. The season's best Prince Albert turn out, (2,630) saw Dave Balon, chunky speedster from nearby Wakaw, spark the Mintos with a four-point outing, getting two goals and two assists. Balon opened the scoring at 7:00 on a bad angle hard long shot that went through goalie Ken Walter's legs. Art Patterson picked up a loose puck in front of the net and scored at 12:46. Mintos lead 2-0 after the first period.

In the second period, Pats' Red Berenson's shot glanced off the goal post. Prince Albert came right back down the ice and Lloyd Maxfield caught the inside of the goal post at 1:50. Billy Hicke got the Pats first goals at 11:30 on a blazed high shot. With 30 seconds left in the period Reggy Primeau scored off Dave Balons' rebound. In the third period Regina Pats' Lundhamer scored on Bryan Whittal's pass out at 4:40. Dave "Dangler" Balon then scored 25 seconds later. Primeau scored his second goal at 17:17.

Friday, March 8: For the second time on Regina ice, Mintos came back with two goals in the dying minutes to edge Pats 4-3 before the largest crowd (3,350) of the series. Prince Albert were going with only three defenseman and they took time out to score the all important goals. Larry McLaren stepped out of the penalty box with 3 minutes and 15 seconds left in the game and scored the tying goal. Harvey Aadland potted the winner at the 18:04 mark while Aut Erickson fired Minto's second goal when Pats' Grant Munro deflected the shot into his own net.

Prince Albert Lloyd Maxfield opened the scoring at 11:11 on a break-a-way. Regina's Jerome Walker scored at 18:33 on a disputed goal. The referee consulted the goal judge and ruled a goal to give Mintos a 3-1 lead. In the second period Pats' Billy Hicke scored at 1:17 from behind the net and scooped the puck into the net with Minto's Dave Balon serving a penalty. Pats took the lead on Marty Howe's goal two minutes later. In the third period Minto's Larry McLaren tied the game at 16:45 and, at 18:04, Harvey Aadland's winner was a blazing slap shot high into the short side of the net.

Saturday, March 9, Regina Pats took a thrilling 4-1 victory at Prince Albert rink before 2,791 fans. In the eyes of the onlookers, it was the work of Regina goalie Ken Walters that was a major contributing factor in the victory. "That kid between the pipes played a whale of a game out there." said visiting Ken Reardon (Vice-President of the Montreal Canadiens and former National Hockey League All-Star).

The first goal wasn't scored until 3:07 of the second period when Jerome Walker scored into the lower left side of the net. In the third period Billy LeCaine made it 2-0, poor clearing by Rudy Balon resulted in the puck passing directly to Pats' LeCaine who scored at 3:34. Minto's Dave Balon then scored 43 seconds later on a high looping shot just inside the blue line. Marty Howe checked a Minto at centre ice and carried right in on Kuntz, scoring a back-hander at 7:13. Munro then scored at 8:46.

Monday, March 11, Ken Allyot's third place finishers in the League, became the third team in eleven years to sideline the Regina Pats in a series other than a League final. The Mintos came from behind twice at the Regina Stadium to tie the Pats 3-3 in overtime.

It was coach-manager Ken Ullyot's decision in the fall of 1956 to purchase two defensemen, Aut Erickson and Larry McLaren, from Lethbridge Native Sons for $800. "That was the greatest steal in hockey." was Ullyot's opinion. "I'll tell you, we would not be alive today if it weren't for those two. Those two players did all the scoring for the Mintos in that final game."

Prince Albert lost to Flin Flon in the League final. Flon Flon Bombers went on to defeat the Ottawa Canadiens and ex-Pats Murray Balfour in the Memorial Cup in sevens games. The first three games were played in Flin Flon, the rest of the series was then moved to the Regina Exhibition Stadium. An estimated 4,000 fans cheered the home coming of the Bombers at the CNR station.

Front Row: Marty Howe, John Davenstein, Ken Walter, Tony Kollman, Gordon Berenson Middle Row: Billy Hicke, Joe Lunehamer, Audrey Burlock, Grant Munro, Gary Butler, Murray Swanson, Billy LeCaine, Wilf Stettner, Gerry Kolb, Norbert Kemp (Stick Boy) Back Row: Frank Mario (Coach), Del Wilson (Manager)