For those interested in the Lethbridge Broncos, I've written a book on the history of the team. It's available at Analog Books in Lethbridge or on it's website, which is right here. For those out of town, they will ship it to you.
THE LETHBRIDGE BRONCOS:
"THE SHORT RUN"
This unauthorized history of the Lethbridge Broncos tells the story of a decade of a forgotten period of time for a WHL franchise that produced many great players. The Broncos time in Lethbridge was short, but impressive.
During the 12 seasons the Lethbridge Broncos played before returning to Swift Current, they were one of the best junior hockey franchises in Canada. This book details their beginnings, examines their highs and lows, and explores their departure in the spring of 1986.
Twenty former Bronco players including Bryan Trottier, Brent Sutter and Lindy Ruff recall their memories playing in Lethbridge.
Every season is reviewed with summaries and statistics. Biographies of every player who appeared in a Bronco uniform are also highlighted. Many team photos are included.
Just added, Wade Smith - coming soon, Steve Nemeth
April 22, 2023
Roland “Rollie” Boutin
Rollie as he was known, was the first Lethbridge Bronco goaltender to appear in the NHL when he appeared for the Washington Capitals on Dec. 2, 1978 against the St. Louis Blues. Rollie stopped all 15 shots he faced in relief of Bernie Wolfe, midway through the second period in a 5-2 loss.
Rollie was born in Westlock, Alta., a small farming community 90 kilometres north of Edmonton. His parents farmed near the small hamlet of Dapp, where Rollie attended school and played much of his minor hockey on an outdoor rink.
While Rollie was growing up, Greg Polis was also learning the game of hockey in this small community. He soon became a local hockey icon when he played for the Estevan Bruins from 1966 to 1970. He was drafted seventh overall by the New York Rangers in the 1970 NHL draft and played 11 seasons in the NHL. Polis would play with Rollie later in his career when he joined the Hershey Bears. Two NHLers from Dapp was quite an achievement.
Rollie began skating on ponds and outdoor rinks at an early age. “My dad coached me and my brother on the outdoor rinks,” recalled Rollie. His brother, two years older, led the way and made it easier for the family when they both played together throughout Rollie’s younger days. “I always played up an age to help out my parents.”
As a young boy Rollie found himself playing goal. “No one else wanted to and I was sucked into playing it at an early age. My mom used to pay me five dollars to play goal as I really didn’t like it,” Rollie recalled.
Not fond of the position, Rollie soon began to excel at it. At the age of 12 he and his brother began playing minor hockey in Westlock. During the next several years his minor hockey teams were successful winning provincial titles with Rollie and another future Bronco, Jim Wishloff, leading the way. Both were scouted and signed by the Swift Current Broncos and would soon begin their junior careers in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL).
Being a goalie during the 1970s and ’80s presented a unique challenge both from a mental and technical standpoint. Goaltending coaches were non-existent, so you were essentially on your own. Coaches stated “stop the puck, stay on your feet and cut down the angles.” Goaltenders were left alone to figure out how to stop the puck. When they didn’t, technical help was limited. Equipment was poor and provided little protection.
Facing these challenges, Rollie excelled and was determined to compete at the highest level. With a late 1957 birthday, Rollie, at the age of 14, went to his first junior hockey camp with the Prince Albert Raiders, a farm team of the Broncos, in the fall of 1972. Released during training camp, he returned to play midget hockey in Westlock before joining the Raiders as a 16-year-old in 1973. Under the direction of Terry Simpson and the scoring of Stan Jensen, the Raiders won the SJHL championship, defeating Humboldt, Saskatoon and Estevan. Representing the SJHL in the Anavet Cup, they lost to the Selkirk Steelers ending their season. Rollie captured the SJHL rookie of the year award in 1973-74.
Rollie made his first appearance in the Western Canada Hockey League for the Swift Current Broncos during the 1973-74 season, where he stopped 31 of 34 shots he faced in the victory. Rollie, in his unassuming manner, remembered little of his first game.
During the spring of 1974, the Swift Current Broncos moved to Lethbridge and Rollie arrived in town for training camp fighting for a spot on the team featuring veterans Lorne Molleken and Bill Oleschuk in net. Molleken had been the number-one goalie the previous year at the age of 17 in Swift Current. As training camp wound up, Rollie was sent to Prince Albert to begin the 1974-75 season.
Oleschuk struggled early in the season and coach Earl Ingarfield felt it was time for Rollie to return to the Broncos in mid October. Rollie was a top prospect and Ingarfield was confident he was ready to backup Molleken.
On Rollie’s 17th birthday he made his first appearance as a Lethbridge Bronco, in a 7-4 win over the Flin Flon Bombers at the Sportsplex.
Rollie quickly settled into the home of Keith Chilton, a car salesman at Dunlop Ford. He recalled being treated very well by the family. During Rollie’s rookie season in Lethbridge he was the youngest player on the team joining two other 17-year-olds, Archie Henderson and Bill Jobson.
Teammates recalled how quiet Rollie was particularly in his rookie campaign in Lethbridge. “Growing up on a small farm and attending school in a small community where his class size was less than 20 people, I was never exposed to many people. I went to school and then home to help on the farm.” Rollie acknowledged his shyness, and how socializing at this time in his life, was challenging.
During his three seasons in Lethbridge, he let his goaltending do the talking. Rollie recalled how quickly his junior days in Lethbridge went. Rollie stated his memories of the game meld into one another.
“Being the youngest on the team I remember Trottier, Sutter, Bancks and Delorme hanging out together.” Rollie laughed as he remembered the numerous pranks they played on each other.
In early December, Molleken was traded to the Winnipeg Clubs and suddenly Rollie was thrust into the number-one role on the team. Rollie recounted how he didn’t feel any additional pressure. “Do your job and enjoy the game,” became Rollie’s motto.
The Broncos, behind the leadership of Bryan Trottier, finished in second place in the Eastern Division of the WCHL. In the first round of playoffs they lost to the Regina Pats in six games. Rollie and Glen Anweiler split the duties in net, each playing three games. Rollie had a 3.49 goals-against average in his first taste of playoff action.
The second season for Rollie and the Broncos was filled with many highs and lows. Rollie played in 61 of the 72 games the Broncos played. The season began with optimism but when the team struggled during the middle of the season, Ingarfield resigned as coach and was replaced by a youthful 27-year-old Mike Sauter. Rollie remembered Sauter for his encouragement and appreciation he provided for his efforts in the net.
Willie Desjardins joined the Broncos as a rookie 18-year-old centre and soon became a close friend of Rollie’s. The Broncos were led by second-year forward Brian Sutter and rookie Steve Tambellini.
One of the more distinct memories Rollie has of the season was Lethbridge native Joe Meli flipping Barry Beck in a fight against the New Westminster Bruins. Meli was one of the best judokas in Canada and was part of four Olympic games in the sport. The Broncos all looked on in awe as Meli took on one of the toughest players in the WCHL and handled him easily without throwing a punch.
The season ended with a valiant effort against the Saskatoon Blades in the first round of the playoffs. The Blades, led by Bernie Federko and his 187-point season, dominated the league. The Broncos took them to seven games before losing.
Rollie arrived in Lethbridge for the 1976-77 WCHL season confident his final season in the WCHL would be his best. The Broncos were optimistic rookie Rocky Saganiuk and veteran Steve Tambellini would lead the way offensively with Rick Hendricks, Doug Johnston, Brad Knelson, John Scammell and Ray Munroe protecting Rollie in the net.
Going into the season Rollie, considered one of the best goaltenders in the league, was rated by The Hockey News as the fifth-best goalie prospect for the 1977 draft.
Rollie stated that “I didn’t feel any pressure going into my draft year. Do your job and have fun. I wanted to get drafted but more importantly I wanted to win as a team. I didn’t lose any sleep over it.”
The season began strongly, but a long 14-game winless streak in January dampened the team’s spirits. In early February when the Broncos hosted Boy Scout Night and a crowd of over 4,000 fans in attendance, one of the worst brawls in Lethbridge Bronco history unfolded. Doug Lecuyer and Scammell fought, and when Lecuyer was ejected, he and Rocky Saganiuk began fighting under the stands. Grant Morin spit on Mike Sauter, who responded with a punch and the benches emptied. Police were called to assist and at one point the lights were turned out in the Sportsplex in an attempt to stop the craziness on the ice.
Rollie recalled how Morin constantly chirped and aggressively challenged him in front of the net during the entire season. There was no love lost between Calgary and Lethbridge during the 1976-77 season.
As a result of his actions Sauter was suspended for 12 games for striking Morin, the second time he’d struck a player in two seasons. Bill Burton, the Broncos’ owner, brought in local hockey legend Howie Yanosik to run the team for the remainder of the season.
Despite the up-and-down season the Broncos experienced, Rollie was selected to play in the all-star game in Lethbridge for his stellar play in the net.
When playoffs arrived the Broncos were ready. With the addition of Darryl and Duane Sutter and the return of Tambellini, who missed 15 games with a broken jaw, the Broncos defeated the Saskatoon Blades four games to two in the first round.
Their second-round opponents were none other than the Calgary Centennials, who had upset the Medicine Hat Tigers. The series was a best-of-five and went to the fifth game in Lethbridge. Willie Desjardins scored the game-winner with less than three minutes remaining in Game 5 to win it for the Broncos.
Only the Brandon Wheat Kings stood in the way of a birth in the WCHL finals. Unfortunately, the Wheat Kings were a powerhouse that season and had the three top scorers in the league in Billy Derlago, Ray Allision and Brian Propp. The Broncos lost in four straight games. Each game was close. In Rollie’s last game as a Bronco, in Game 4, they lost 8-7 in overtime.
Rollie was selected MVP of the Broncos when the season concluded. Returning to the farm he was hopeful his efforts would be rewarded on draft day in June 1977. A call from Max McNab, the general manager of the Washington Capitals, informed Rollie he’d been selected in the seventh round of the NHL draft. Rollie and his family were ecstatic. Excited about the opportunity to play in the NHL, he was eager for the upcoming hockey season to begin.
Rollie laughed when he recalled the training manual sent to him by the Capitals. In July, the Capitals invited their prospects to Ottawa to assess their abilities and help prepare them for the upcoming fall training camp.
The Washington Capitals joined the NHL in 1974 and struggled during their first four years of existence. The year Rollie was drafted the Capitals won only 24 games. Given their struggles, Rollie was eager to impress and felt an opportunity was available given the lack of success the team had displayed.
Rollie recalled his first training camp. During the first day of camp players were expected to run a mile in under six minutes. “I was more nervous over that than anything,” Rollie stated. The temperature was in the 90-degree range with very high humidity when they began the run. All of the players from Western Canada “nearly died” from the heat and humidity. Dale Rideout a former Flin Flon Bomber out-ran everyone while the incumbent goalie, Bernie Wolfe, “didn’t give a shit” and bailed after one lap.
It was quite an opening impression. Rollie was sent early in the training camp to the Port Huron Flags of the IHL. Washington had two farm teams, the Hershey Bears, an AHL franchise, and the Flags.
“I signed my first professional hockey contract with the Flags for $10,000.”
Port Huron was a small community of 35,000 people, 100 km north of Detroit on the south end of Lake Huron. The community, built first on ship building and later the automotive industry, loved its hockey. The Flags had been part of the IHL since 1962 and played in McMorran Arena that held 3,400 fans for hockey.
Joining Rollie on the Flags was former Bronco Archie Henderson and a bitter rival, Gary Rissling who played for the Calgary Centennials. Along with Bruce Hamilton they rented a house and had many great times together. Rissling would be part of Rollie’s wedding party several years later.
Rollie appeared in 58 games for the Flags with Dale Rideout serving as his backup. They finished in fourth place and as they headed into the playoffs they were not seen as a threat for the Turner Cup. Round one saw them face the first-place Saginaw Gears. Former Bronco Lorne Molleken was the starting goalie for the Gears. With Rollie leading the way, the Flags won the series four games to one.
The second round began against second-place Kalamazoo Wings. They won again won in five games. The only team in their way from capturing the Turner Cup was the Toledo Goaldiggers, led by Mike Eruzione, who captained the USA gold medal-winning 1980 Olympic champions. Unfortunately, Port Huron ran out of steam and lost Game 7 4-3 ending an eventful run at a championship.
After a tremendous rookie season in the IHL, Rollie headed home to the farm in Dapp, hopeful his exploits from his rookie season had been noted by the Capitals, who continued to struggle.
When training camp concluded for the 1978-79 campaign, Rollie was returned to Port Huron where he began the season. After playing nine games, the Capitals promoted him to the Hershey Bears. Excited about ascending through the organization, he was now one step closer to the NHL. Rollie played a team- leading 30 games for the Bears.
Further excitement awaited on Dec 1, 1979, when he was called into the Bears office where he was informed by his coach, Chuck Hamilton, he was being called up by the Capitals and needed to head to St. Louis where the Capitals were playing.
Rollie arrived in time for the game and backed up veteran goalie Wayne Stephenson. When the Blues took a 4-1 lead in the middle of the second period coach Danny Belisle made the decision to put Rollie in. In his first appearance in the NHL, Rollie turned aside all 15 shots in a 5-2 loss. Playing for the Blues, was former teammate Brian Sutter and goalie Ed Staniowski, who was outstanding during the 1974-75 WCHL playoffs where they defeated the Broncos.
Rollie recalled very little of his first game but his memory sharpened when reminded about his second game against the Los Angeles Kings two nights later in Los Angeles. Given his first NHL start, the Kings behind the scoring of Marcel Dionne, Danny Grant and Vic Venasky, scored 10 goals on Rollie in a 10-2 loss.
Following his brief but eventful first two appearances in the NHL, Rollie was sent back to Hershey where he joined a Bear squad that finished in second place in the Southern Division. Alex Tidey and Archie Henderson, both teammates of Rollie on the 1974-75 Broncos, were key contributors on the Bears. When playoffs arrived, they lost to the Broome Dusters, led by goalie Ken Holland.
As the season concluded, Rollie was optimistic his first taste of the NHL would lead to an opportunity to join the Capitals on a full-time basis.
The 1979-80 season began in Hershey where he shared the goaltending with former Saskatoon Blade Dave Parro. After playing 15 games for Hershey, where he went 11-2 with a .902 save percentage, the Capitals made the call and Rollie headed to Washington where he remained for the entire season.
The Capitals were struggling and replaced Belisle with a young 26-year-old Gary Green as coach. When Rollie made his first appearance of the season they were 5-20-5, in last place in the NHL.
When Rollie arrived in Washington he was excited to finally have a goalie coach. Roger Crozier, who had recently retired after a 14-year career with Detroit, Buffalo and Washington, was named coach and Rollie was hopeful he’d provide technical and moral support for a young goalie hoping to make his mark in the NHL. The only memory he had of Crozier is him emphatically stating if “I continued to go down, he’d tie me to the crossbar.”
On Dec. 15, 1979, Rollie started his second career NHL game against the New York Rangers and won 5-4. The Rangers jumped out to a 4-0 lead heading into the third period behind two goals from Dave Maloney and singles from Phil Esposito and Steve Vickers. Suddenly the Capitals came alive, scored five unanswered goals against former Lethbridge Sugar King goalie John Davidson for the win.
The following night Green turned to starter Wayne Stephenson in a 5-4 loss to the Hartford Whalers. Rollie returned to the net the following game against the Vancouver Canucks and won 2-1 with only a late goal by Rick Blight ending his shutout bid. With Rollie playing well, Green started him 10 consecutive games where he went 5-4-1.
As quickly as his NHL run began, it ended. Green started Rollie against the Black Hawks in a 5-2 loss on Jan. 30, 1980. He would only start one more game the remainder of the season, on Feb. 21, 1980, in a 3-0 loss to the Atlanta Flames.
Rollie was very disappointed with how his season ended. After playing well he was told that Stephenson would take the reins as the Capitals tried desperately to make their first playoff appearance in the NHL. In 1979-80 season, 16 of 21 teams made the playoffs. The Capitals finished two points behind the Edmonton Oilers, who finished 16th.
Playing almost an entire season in the NHL, Rollie was confident he’d return to the Capitals for the 1980-81 season.
Unfortunately on June 11, 1980 the Capitals traded for Mike Palmateer, who they hoped would compete with Wayne Stephenson for the number-one spot in net. This trade was demoralizing for Rollie who recognized where he stood on the depth chart. It was confirmed when he appeared in only one exhibition game for the Capitals. It was, however, a special game for Rollie, when he played against one of the all-time greats, Gordie Howe.
Sent to Hershey, he had a tremendous season playing in 53 games. He was named to the AHL second all-star team, led the AHL in wins with 32 and shutouts with three.
An injury provided Rollie with his last opportunity in the NHL. On Jan. 8, 1981, he started against the Calgary Flames at the Corral in Calgary and lost 6-0. Nine days later, on Jan 17, 1981, he started in his last NHL game against the New York Islanders at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. The Capitals lost 6-4 with former Bronco teammate Bryan Trottier assisting on three Mike Bossy goals, his last into an empty net.
Late in the game Rollie injured his hand. Following the loss, the Capitals informed him he’d be returning to Hershey. Rollie agreed despite the injury. Rollie recalled, “I should have gone on the injured list rather than agreeing to return to the AHL.” With that appearance, his NHL days were over.
Rollie returned to the Hershey Bears for the 1981-82 season where he appeared in 62 games, the most by any goaltender in the AHL. The Bears lost in the first round to end their season.
On Aug. 4, 1982 Rollie was traded by the Capitals with Wes Jarvis to the Minnesota North Stars for Robbie Moore and an 11th-round draft pick.
Sent to the Birmingham Stars during training camp, Rollie struggled and was released. Rollie signed with the Salt Lake City Golden Eagles where he finished the season.
That offseason, Rollie called Emile Francis, now the general manager of the Hartford Whalers asking for an opportunity. Francis signed him to a contract where Rollie finished his professional hockey career with the Binghamton Whalers.
At the age of 27 and newly married, Rollie knew his time in hockey was up.
Now living in Virginia, Rollie recognized the need to further his education. He attended college and earned a two-year diploma in electronical engineering. Hired by a utility company in Virginia, he remained with the company until 1992, doing design work for power companies.
In 1992 his parents, who still farmed, wanted to retire. Now divorced, Rollie made the decision to return home and take over the farm. In addition to farming, Rollie worked for a utility company in Edmonton on a full-time basis for 18 years before retiring in 2010. Rollie continued to farm for an additional seven years before he left farming.
When talking with a former teammate Archie Henderson, I was told Rollie had become the mayor of Westlock. When I asked Rollie about this, he laughed “That’s Archie, always telling stories.” Now fully retired, he spends two months every winter in Mexico and golfs during the summer, enjoying the freedom retirement provides.
Unassuming and quiet, Rollie spoke fondly of his time in hockey. The motto “it’s not a big deal,” sums up Rollie. Many of his career highlights blend in with his memories of the past, so moments like his first NHL game were not as “big a deal” as they might have been to others.
Asked if he’s been back to Lethbridge since his days with the Broncos, Rollie stated he returned to visit with Willie Desjardins following his first season in professional hockey. They played golf at the Country Club and Willie had a hole in one, laughed Rollie.
A knee replacement awaits in September, but for the most part, his years of hockey have served him well. Disappointed his NHL career never unfolded like he hoped, Rollie acknowledged success in professional sports are often defined by seizing the moment. If you don’t produce, it’s over.
April 7, 2023
Dave Falkenberg #5
Written by Mark Weninger
Dave was raised in Stettler, Alta., a small community of roughly 4,900, less than an hour east of Red Deer. It was also the hometown of John Chapman, the most successful coach in Lethbridge Bronco history.
In the early 1960s Chapman played junior hockey for the Estevan Bruins and was a local hero to Dave and his boyhood friend Larry Jones, who also played in Lethbridge briefly during the 1978-79 Western Hockey League season. Chapman, a cousin to Dave, was a hockey icon to many of the fans in Stettler.
In addition, Dave’s other cousin, Bob Falkenberg, played with the Edmonton Oil Kings from 1962 to 1966. During his four seasons with the Oil Kings they appeared in four Memorial Cup finals. In 1963 the Memorial Cup finals were played at the Edmonton Gardens where the Oil Kings defeated the Niagara Falls Flyers to capture their first Memorial Cup championship, winning the series four games to two. Bob played parts of five seasons with the Detroit Red Wings over the span of a 12-year professional career that included stops in the WHA with the Edmonton Oilers and the San Diego Mariners.
Dave recalled attending several games in Edmonton during the Oil Kings run to the cup in 1963. At the age of four tagging along with his parents he recalled cheering for Bob and the Oil Kings. With this close connection to hockey, it soon became his passion.
Dave recalled “growing up in a small community, I began skating on the ponds in and around Stettler at a very young age.” When he was finally able to play organized minor hockey he was soon competing against the Sutters and the Ruffs in the small communities of Viking and Warburg.
As Dave's skills developed, he began to grab the attention of junior hockey scouts. At the age of 14, he attended a Victoria Cougar camp in Hobbema run by Patty Ginnell. Ginnell noticed his play and later he’d have a profound impact on his career.
Playing defence as a midget at the age of 15, he received a call from the Pass Red Devils, a farm team of the Calgary Centennials, to join the AJHL team based in Blairmore, Alta. His call from the midget ranks to the Red Devils was based on the recommendation of John Chapman.
The Red Devils were coached by Ron Collings. They were perhaps the worst junior hockey team in Canada winning only three of the 60 games they played, finishing in last place. A very young and inexperienced team, they had nine 16-year-olds on their roster. Despite the horrific record, they produced four future NHLers in Perry Turnbull, Glen Cochrane, Jeff Bandura and Howard Walker. Four other players had professional hockey careers including Dave.
Dave attended the Centennial training camp the fall of 1975 and was released. Sent back to the Pass, he played two games before returning to finish the year in Stettler where he played his last season of midget hockey.
Closer to home, the Red Deer Rustlers were looking for players and Dave joined them for the 1976-77 season. The Rustlers had a very successful season led by Darryl Sutter and Kelly Kisio. Coached by Sheldon Ferguson, they led the AJHL in scoring. When playoffs arrived, they made the round-robin semifinal with Taber and Calgary before being eliminated after winning only a single game. The Taber Golden Suns and the Calgary Canucks battled in the finals with the Canucks prevailing, winning the AJHL title.
Dave returned to Red Deer for his third season in the AJHL for the 1977-78 season. Despite the scoring provided by Kelly Kisio and Duane Sutter, the Rustlers struggled and finished fifth in the seven-team AJHL. The St. Albert Saints, led by Mark Messier, defeated the Rustlers in seven games in the first round. Dave fondly remembers outscoring Messier in the series.
When the Rustlers’ season ended, Dave headed directly to Lethbridge where the Broncos picked him up for the last four games of the season.
Dave recalled his first game in the Corral in Calgary. The Broncos tied the Wranglers 4-4 and in doing so clinched first place in the Central Division. Dave scored on Warren Skorodenski early in the third period on assists from Duane Sutter and Brad Knelson.
Their next game against the Billings Bighorns ended in a 7-7 tie. The game was filled with fights. Late in the third period Mike Kouwenhoven smashed Lindy Ruff’s face into the ice during a fight leading to a line brawl. Dave, on the ice, was given a major and game misconduct for his role in the brawl. In addition to the penalties, he earned an assist on the Broncos first goal of the game by Dean Solheim.
The Broncos, having won the Central Division title were bounced, in the first round-robin series by Billings and Medicine Hat ending Dave’s season. However, during his short time with the Broncos he left an impression on the team and the fans.
Dave returned to Stettler where he trained hard for the upcoming season. Patty Ginnell was the new coach of the Broncos and Dave was hopeful his brief training camp with the Victoria Cougars three years earlier had left an impression. Dave believed his hard-nosed style of play would fit perfectly into the style Ginnell loved.
Ginnell put together a camp in early July in Edmonton where he had the opportunity to view listed players and veterans.
In addition to training hard for the upcoming season, Dave worked hard with the Sutters at their summer hockey camp in Sylvan Lake. Having played with Darryl, Duane and Brent Sutter in Red Deer he recalled they all left positive impressions on him. “Darryl was a leader who didn’t like to lose. Losing left him grumpy,” remembered Dave. Brent was the most talented with lots of heart and battle in his system.
When Dave arrived for camp in the fall of 1978 he recalled “that he really didn’t know how things would go.” After a strong training camp, Ginnell took a chance on a 19-year-old WHL rookie. He joined a defensive core that included Lindy Ruff, Simon Learmouth, Jay Soleway, Ralph Andreesen and Roger Wolfe.
Dave settled in with his billets Peter and Linda Kish who provided support and encouragement to a rookie in the WHL looking to leave a mark and move into professional hockey.
The 1978-79 Broncos emerged as an offensive juggernaut led by Duane Sutter, Doug Morrison, Gord Williams, Earl Ingarfield Jr., Randy Ruff and Dave Snopek. Despite their loaded front end, the team lacked offensive depth.
During the early stages of the season Ginnell approached Dave and asked him to learn how to play forward, a move that paid dividends for both the Broncos and Dave’s professional career.
When Ginnell needed some added grit on his forward line he’d fill in on the third line with either Kevin Ginnell, Larry Doyle or Kelly Rissling.
Dave started quickly with the Broncos. He made an early impression in a game against the Regina Pats when he had four assists in an 8-1 win and was named player of the game. After eight games he was fourth in team scoring with 11 points, all assists.
In addition to his offensive play, Dave became popular with fans and early in the season a Dave Falkenberg fan club was formed with many of them wearing his jersey around the Sportsplex. When the team headed west early in the season, several fan club members made the journey west and cheered him on.
In a game against the Medicine Hat Tigers in late November Dave recorded three assists despite badly injuring his tongue when cross checked from behind. The following night against the Billing he was named star of the game when he recorded his first two goals of the season in a 10-4 victory.
As the season progressed the Broncos began to emerge as one of the top teams in the league. Unfortunately, the Brandon Wheat Kings were a dominant team in the league, losing only five games.
One of the many Broncos who left an impression on Dave was Bobby Hull Jr. “Everyone loved him, he could skate and shoot, he had more talent than Brett. His curse was his name.” Dave remembered Hull stating to Dave, “what can I do?” Hull was taunted endlessly on the ice by the opponents. “I felt bad for him,” Dave stated.
One of the top scorers on the team was Doug Morrison. “He was quick with a tremendous shot and he was tough, although he didn’t go looking for it,” Dave recalled.
Dave with the added versatility of being able to play both defence and forward had a tremendous season scoring 11 goals and adding 42 assists for 53 points. The most notable statistic was his 234 minutes in penalties, which led the Broncos.
Memories of his only full season in Lethbridge included their semifinal win over the Calgary Wranglers propelling the team into the league semifinal round-robin against the Brandon Wheat Kings and Portland Winter Hawks.
Ginnell made it clear to Dave when they played Portland that his job was to follow his former teammate with the Pass Red Devils, Perry Turnbull, everywhere he went on the ice. Turnbull had a tremendous draft year scoring 75 goals to finish second in the WHL in goal scoring. This season propelled him to the top of the draft rankings where he was selected second overall by the St. Louis Blues in the 1979 NHL draft.
Unfortunately, Portland had more than Turnbull, and with Brian Propp and his 94 goals and 194 points leading the way for the Wheat Kings, the Broncos were swept, ending a tremendously exciting season for the Broncos.
When award night arrived, Dave who was referred to as the “Incredible Falk,” received the most under-rated player award as well as one of the most prestigious awards any player can win, the player’s player award chosen by his teammates.
When summer arrived Dave began to look for professional options. Pat Shimbashi discussed the possibility of going to play in Japan but when Dave hesitated, Larry Doyle jumped at the opportunity.
George Kingston at the University of Calgary was also interested in Dave. “Broadcasting interested me but when I was offered a tryout with the Maine Mariners, I jumped at the opportunity,” recalled Dave. The Mariners were the AHL affiliate of the Philadelphia Flyers. Along with teammate Randy Ruff they headed east in the fall of 1979 with both their parents.
Dave had the opportunity to play in an exhibition game against the Boston Bruins before being sent to Maine, coached by Bob McCammon. After 10 games for the Mariners he was sent to the Toledo Goaldiggers of the IHL.
Gregg Pilling, a native of Lethbridge, coached the team and he joined ex-Broncos Dean Solheim and Rick Hendricks. Toledo finished in second place in the South Division behind the Fort Wayne Comets with 74 points. When they faced them in the first round of playoffs they were swept ending Dave’s first season of professional hockey.
The following season Toledo struggled. Billy Inglis, who had played briefly with the Los Angeles Kings and Buffalo Sabres, was hired near the end of the 1981 season and as Dave recalled, “he saved my career.”
Suddenly Toledo became a powerhouse in the IHL winning consecutive IHL championships with Dave and former Bronco, Lorne Molleken leading the way. “Mooner carried the team,” recalled Dave. In addition, Dirk Graham and Scott Howson were stars.
After winning their first IHL championship in 1982, Inglis approached Dave in training camp asking him to move to forward. Recognizing his skating ability and his willingness to win puck battles, the move made sense. Having played forward for Ginnell on a part-time basis with the Broncos, he jumped at the opportunity. Playing with Dirk Graham and Claude Noel their line dominated the opposition. Dave tallied 51 goals and 97 points. Quite a transition from defence to right wing. In addition to his sudden goal-scoring prowess, Dave never missed a game over the last five seasons of his career.
Despite his offensive ability and his toughness, “I never wanted to be a captain, I just wanted to lead by example,” stated Dave. Remaining at forward for the next three seasons Dave had seasons of 39, 24 and 32 goals respectively.
During his last two seasons in Toledo the team struggled under the leadership of former NHL star Peter Mahovlich. Dave, a die-hard Toronto Maple Leaf fan, cheered for his brother Frank during the 1960s. “He was my idol,” recalled Dave.
Dave remained in Toledo for seven seasons and was part of two consecutive IHL championships before retiring from the game in 1986. He racked up more goals, assists and points in a Goaldigger jersey than any other player. In 2018, he was named to the Toledo Goaldiggers Hall of Fame where he was later joined by former teammate Lorne Molleken, in 2021.
When the Goaldiggers folded after the 1986 season, Dave decided it was time to retire. “I was married and had newborn daughter. I decided to stay in Toledo and so at the age of 26 I retired.”
Dave is currently employed by Bryllan LLC, a pharmaceutical contract manufacturer. He manages the warehouse in Ann Arbour, Mich., that distributes pharmaceutical products throughout North America. Living in Fenton, Mich., he commutes daily to work. With a residence on the lake, he spends his free time boating, golfing and cheering on his Toronto Maple Leafs.
“Lethbridge was a great place to play, I almost came back as an overage, I’m not sure what happened,” stated Dave.
Ginnell gave Dave the opportunity as a 19-year-old WHL rookie in 1978 and he turned it into a great career.
March 23, 2023
It was a privilege to have the opportunity to talk with Earl about his life in hockey. He spent several hours sharing his story. I hope everyone enjoys it.
Brent Dallyn #22
Written by Mark Weninger
Brent joined the Lethbridge Broncos via a trade in the fall of 1981 from the Regina Pats, for forward Marc Centrone. John Chapman had a powerhouse offensive team and wanted a defensively sound, physical defenseman to support the Broncos depth on defence. Brent filled the need.
Brent was born in Provost, AB, but spent the first six years of his life on a farm near Chauvin before his family moved to Lloydminster. From an early age Brent was drawn to hockey. He recalled attending Lloydminster Border Kings games with his parents and dreamed of playing for his hometown team.
Like all of his friends, his free time in the winter was spent playing hockey, either on an outdoor rink or on the streets. “I just liked to play,” recalled Brent. “We never dreamed of the NHL, our thoughts were more on just having fun.”
During the 1960’s, minor hockey consisted of house league teams that traveled to communities near Lloydminster. At the higher levels, an all-star team would be selected to play in provincials and Brent was always part of those teams. During his early years, he often faced off against Ron, Rich and Brent Sutter who represented Viking, a community 138 km away.
Brent recalled how competitive the house league teams were in the city of Lloydminster. Many school yard fights broke out between friends fighting over who was better.
As Brent progressed through minor hockey, his skills continued to improve. As he began playing midget hockey at the age of 16, his dream was to play for the local Junior B team, the Border Blazers, who at that time were coached by Larry Leach, a former NHLer who played for the Boston Bruins.
A high school teacher, football coach and close friend, Larry Sauer, was friends with Dave King, coach of the Billings Bighorns at the time. Having seen Brent play midget hockey, Sauer helped him get an invite to Billings training camp, which was Brent’s first exposure to the WHL. Travelling south 1,000 km from home to Billings, Montana, Brent got his first taste of the WHL. The Bighorns were a strong team in the Central Division, led by Gord Stafford and two Lethbridge products, Harvie Pocza and Cal Roadhouse. Not expecting to make the team, it provided Brent with an idea of the competition that lay ahead.
Making the local Junior B team that season fulfilled a childhood dream. Brent loved playing with his friends in front of family. They were coached by former Detroit Red Wings prospect Gord Redden, the father of Wade Redden, who was drafted second overall in the 1995 NHL draft and played 14 seasons in the NHL with Ottawa, the New York Rangers and St Louis Blues.
Bob Strumm, a friend of Sauer, was the general manager of the Regina Pats. Strumm and his scouts had been eying Brent during his time in Junior B and invited him and his 6’2” 200-pound frame to the Pats training camp in the fall of 1980. Brent made the decision to head to the Queen City with no expectation of making the team. Heading into Regina on his own, he had no idea where the rink was, or where he would be staying when he arrived. Players were housed in a large dorm at the rink, with over 100 players, each trying to leave an impression. It was an overwhelming experience. After a solid training camp, he was shocked when Strumm called him into his office and told him, “Go home and get your stuff.”
Brent had planned to attend NAIT after graduating from high school, but the invite from the Pats changed his plans. When he made the Pats, he promised his mom that he would attend college after his junior days were complete. The oil and gas business changed that plan as well.
The 1980-81 Regina Pats were coached by Jack Sangster, who had been hired by Strumm after coaching two seasons with the Taber Golden Suns. The Pats were a powerhouse in the WHL, finishing in first place in the East Division. Brian Varga and Jock Callander finished one-two in WHL scoring, and rookie Dave Michayluk, fondly called “Boris” by his teammates, won the rookie of the year award.
Brent recalled his first exhibition game with the Pats in Saskatoon. His parents made the trip from Lloydminster and were excited to watch their son in action. As it often happened in the early 1980’s, the game quickly deteriorated into a brawl filled event. Brent recalled holding on to two Blades “scared to death” about the outcome.
Garth Butcher and Barry Trotz were stalwarts on the backend for the Pats, while Brent contributed 10 points and 164 minutes in penalties.
The Pats lost the Division Final to the Calgary Wranglers despite Butcher’s amazing playoff run, which saw him tally 22 points in 11 games. Disappointed in the outcome, Strumm decided to make a coaching change. Strumm sensed he needed to find another coach to take the Pats to the next level. Sangster was fired despite leading the team to a division title. Strumm brought in Bill LaForge, who started his junior coaching career the previous season with the Oshawa Generals. Laforge expected his teams to create mayhem on the ice. During the OHA playoffs, LaForge assaulted Peterborough Petes coach Dave Dryden and was suspended 50 games for his actions. When the season concluded, LaForge resigned.
Brent began the 1981-82 season with the Pats and watched first-hand as Laforge was committed to building what Brent called a “goon squad”. After a successful training camp, Brent suffered a knee injury in an intersquad game and missed the first six weeks of the season. Just after Thanksgiving, Strumm informed Brent he would be joining the Lethbridge Broncos. Seeking additional heavyweights, the Pats sent Brent to the Broncos for Marc Centrone, a seventh-round draft pick of the Chicago Black Hawks in 1981. Centrone had played 13 games for the Broncos and accumulated 105 minutes in penalties. Centrone was exactly what Laforge wanted. The Pats set WHL records for penalty minutes that season, with three members of the team exceeding 400 minutes, Centrone a big part of it.
Brent was relieved to be traded from the Pats. Despite being a hard-hitting defenceman who didn’t back down, the new look Regina Pats with Laforge behind the bench was not to Brent’s liking.
Joining a Bronco squad, an offensive juggernaut in the WHL, led by Brent Sutter and Mike Moller, had Brent feeling both excited and nervous as he headed to join the Broncos.
Brent recalled driving six hours west on the Trans Canada highway and meeting coach John Chapman at the Heidelberg Inn on Mayor Magrath Drive. Heading to the rink the next day, Brent, Ron and Rich Sutter were the first three that greeted him as he entered the Sportsplex. Brent was relieved to be welcomed so openly by the Sutters. The four of them developed a friendship and relationship that is still in place today. Brent quickly settled into a strong defensive core led by Randy Moller, Vern Smith, Grant Couture, Marty Ruff and rookie Gerald Diduck.
Brent’s first game with the Broncos was a 5-2 win over the Calgary Wranglers in front of 4,678 fans. The victory was marred by a brawl that saw Randy Moller and Vern Smith receive game misconducts. Suddenly in his first game, Brent was being asked to take on a significant amount of ice time.
As a result of the brawl and leaving the bench, Moller was suspended for three games. Short their best defenceman, Chapman needed Brent to take on extra ice time. Chapman commented in the Lethbridge Herald that Brent “was someone who can play tough around the net and what I like about him, is his enthusiasm. He was a team guy right away.”
Fitting in immediately, Brent received lots of ice time and was content living with Ron and Cheryl Salter, who to this day keep in contact with him.
As the season continued, Brent played with rookie 16-year-old Gerald Diduck. The Broncos continued their assault on the league, putting together a 17-game win streak and established numerous team records.
Brent Sutter left the Broncos when recalled by the Islanders at Christmas, and never returned. Despite this loss, the Broncos steamrolled through the league and captured the WHL regular season championship.
Brent recalled the intensity the Broncos displayed. He stated, “The best fight I’ve ever witnessed in all my years in hockey occurred at a Bronco practice. Brent Sutter and Randy Moller were throwing bombs at each other while the entire team watched. When it was over, everyone moved on.”
Marc Magnan was one of the toughest players in the league. Brent recalled joining Marc, a strong Catholic, for many Saturday night masses in Lethbridge.
Doug Rigler, a native of Grande Prairie, was close friends with boxer Will deWitt, also a native of Grande Prairie. deWitt visited with Rigler on many occasions and it was exciting to be around this future boxing great who won the silver medal in the 1984 Summer Olympics. He is currently a Justice in the Court of Queens Bench of Alberta.
As the season progressed, Brent recalled that his ice time decreased, which he found disheartening on a personal level. With playoffs around the corner, and with the Regina Pats, his old team, standing in the way, Brent hoped for redemption.
The Broncos defeated the Billings Bighorns in the first round and received a bye in the second round. Regina defeated Calgary three games to one, setting up a division final with the Broncos.
The Pats were the highest scoring team in the WHL, while the Broncos were a close third in league scoring. Only the Calgary Wranglers had a stronger defensive record than the Broncos. Regina however, was a large physical team that used intimidation to beat their opponents.
Chapman wasn’t concerned about the intimidation. What concerned him was a 10-day break between games. The Broncos started slowly in game one and lost 6-3. Of greater concern was the tactics of LaForge, who sent three heavyweights over the boards in the first period to attack Mike Moller and Ivan Krook. Things were heating up, much as Brent anticipated, having played for LaForge.
Game two saw a different Bronco squad appear. A pre-game brawl set the tone. When the game was over, it was the Broncos who stood out with a strong defensive showing, beating the Pats 2-1.
The series went seven games and the Pats prevailed in game seven, winning 5-2 on Lethbridge ice. Chris Smith a third string goalie with the Oshawa Generals, proved unstoppable as the Broncos poured shot after shot at him without any luck.
With the season ending in disappointing fashion, so did Brent’s time in Lethbridge. The loss to his former team stung as did his reduced role on the Bronco defense.
When the season ended, the Broncos traded Brent to the expansion Kelowna Red Wings. Dismayed by that event, he was pursued relentlessly by the SJHL Lloydminster Lancers during the summer. Larry Sauer had resigned from his high school teaching to take on the role of the first coach of the Lancers. Another great friend to Brent, Elmer Franks was the general manager, and they both were vigilant in an attempt to get Brent home to captain the first ever Junior A hockey team in the border city. Brent, unsure of his plans, negotiated with the Lancers, informing them if they wanted him to play, they needed to find him a job. Oil is big business in Lloydminster. Offered a job with Husky Oil, his 41-year career in the oil and gas sector began.
As the 1982-1983 season began, Brent was informed Kelowna had traded his rights back to the Broncos for three young prospects. Early in the season the Broncos were playing in Saskatoon and Brent made the 271 km drive to watch the game and make a decision regarding his hockey future. The Broncos, expected to be a top team in the WHL led by Ron and Rich Sutter, provided an attractive option. Brent visited the dressing room after the game and rekindled memories with his former teammates. As he headed home, despite the lure of a possible championship, Brent decided to continue playing with the Lancers.
The Lancers struggled as an expansion franchise but Brent was at the top of his game. Selected to the all-star game that season, he enjoyed a leadership role as captain on the team and 30 minutes of ice time a game. Brent led the team in scoring with 16 goals and 70 assists for 86 points and was awarded the SJHL defenceman of the year award. With the loss to Weyburn in the first round of playoffs, his junior career was over. Years later Brent became the first Junior A player to have his jersey hung up in the Lloydminster Civic Center for his incredible season in 1982-83.
With his hockey days over and no serious professional hockey offers, Brent turned his attention to a career in the oil and gas business. However, the lure of the game still remained and Brent began a 20-year senior hockey career with the Lloydminster Border Kings. The Border Kings won the Allan Cup in 2001 and 2007. With the Allan Cup win in 2001, the Border Kings were presented with the opportunity to represent Canada in a three game series in Poland against their national team. Brent played in this series during his final year as a player. Brent was instrumental in hosting the Allan Cup in Lloydminster in 2000, an event that Hockey Canada described as being one of the best ever. Brent co-chaired the event in 2000 as well as 2005 and 2012. The 2001 Border King Team was put into the SHA Hockey Hall of Fame.
In addition to playing, Brent, persuaded by Roy Noble, was a key factor in bringing back junior hockey to Lloydminster. They resurrected the Junior B program and during the early 1990’s, captured four provincial and two Western Canadian championships. Both Brent and Roy were honored to be put in the Central Alberta Junior B Hockey Hall of Fame.
Starting a family, Brent was blessed with four daughters. Wanting them to engage in hockey rather than ringette, Brent took the lead in developing the female hockey program in Lloydminster, coaching from 1993 to 2007. The program started out playing in a league with surrounding towns to Lloydminster. Rivalries were soon fostered. Brent coached his girls’ teams throughout this time.
With the support of Paul Klassen, owner of PWM Steel in Lloydminster, they were instrumental in building the inaugural “AAA” Midget Girls hockey team in the area - the Lloydminster PWM Steelers. Brent described this as one of many proud accomplishments in his hockey career. The girls were very competitive, winning the provincial title once and attending the Mac’s Tournament in Calgary twice during his tenure.
Brent recalled his teams, whether playing or coaching, were able to realize success in the form of league, provincial, Western Canadian and Canadian championships. As Brent described, they were successful despite not being the most talented. Discipline, teamwork and effort were instrumental in their success, something Brent learned during his days with the Broncos.
When asked about favourite memories of Lethbridge, Brent recalled the “bag skates”, his wonderful teammates, and a trip to Sweetgrass.
Written by Mark Weninger
Simon arrived in Lethbridge in the fall of 1977 as a young 17-year-old defenceman with an aggressive edge to his game and a dream of playing in the NHL.
Born in Vancouver and raised in West Vancouver, Simon began playing hockey at the Hollyburn Country Club before moving to the Northshore Winter Club, where he excelled at the game. With his skill and size on defence, junior teams began to pursue him.
Simon joined the Penticton Vees in 1977 as a 16-year-old, where he accumulated 321 minutes in penalties, second in the BCJHL. Simon described his first season in junior as “fighting for my life.” The Vees had the third best record in the BCJHL with eleven members of the team moving on to play NCAA hockey. Simon was offered a full scholarship by the University of North Dakota Coach Gino Gasparini but decided that major junior was the fastest route to the NHL.
A friend and schoolmate, Jay Soleway, had been listed by the Lethbridge Broncos. The Broncos were also interested in Simon, a 6’2” 180 lb defenceman. Simon began exploring his options and discussed his thoughts with Alex Tidey, a former Bronco and North Shore Winter Club Alumni. Tidey recommended the Broncos, stating they had the best rink in the league and were a very well-run organization.
With a friend signing and a strong recommendation on the part of Tidey, Simon jumped on board and headed east to the Broncos training camp in the fall of 1977.
The Broncos were coming off a disappointing 1975-76 regular season. Mike Sauter, the head coach, was suspended by the league for a physical altercation with Grant Morin. Howie Yanosik replaced Sauter and guided the team to their most successful playoff run, where they lost to the Brandon Wheat Kings in the WCHL semi-finals.
Expectations were high for the 1977-78 season. Steve Tambellini was in his last season of junior and he led the way scoring 75 goals before being drafted in the first round by the New York Islanders. Joining him on defence were two other 17-year-olds, Lindy Ruff and Jay Soleway. John Scammell and Brad Knelson were two veterans guiding the young defense core.
Simon was billeted in the home of Jack and Joyce Rollingson. Close to the rink, he often walked to both practices and games. Living on the prairies was an adjustment, especially the strong chinook winds that brought warmth to Lethbridge during the winter.
Simon recalled the long bus rides to Flin Flon, where he witnessed the northern lights for the first time, and the trips to the west coast. During Simon’s first season in the WCHL, the league spanned from Flin Flon MB to Victoria BC, meaning hours on the bus for these young players chasing a dream.
The Broncos won the Central Division title, capturing their first pennant in team history. Simon finished third on the team in penalty minutes and was a physical force on the blueline. Unfortunately, he missed six weeks of the season when he had his appendix removed.
The Broncos followed up their most impressive season to date by losing in the first round of playoffs, a divisional round robin, sending players home long before they anticipated. Preparing hard during the summer, Simon was aware that a new coach had arrived in Patty Ginnell.
With a maturing defence core and scoring led by Doug Morrison, Duane Sutter, Gord Williams, Earl Ingarfield Jr., Randy Ruff and Dave Snopek, the Broncos became a force in the newly named WHL during the 1978-79 season.
For Simon, his second year with the Broncos almost never occurred. Early in the season, Ginnell, in need of a goalie, worked on acquiring Greg Dumba from the Regina Pats. As the trade unfolded, included in the original deal was a 17-year-old centre named Doug Wickenheiser coming to the Broncos. Simon was part of the trade going to the Pats when word came from Regina that Wickenheiser refused to report to Lethbridge. The trade was voided and Simon remained in Lethbridge.
Simon soon became a favorite of Ginnell’s. “Ginnell brought out the best in me” recalled Simon. “He loved to shorten the bench and on many occasions Ralph Andressen, Soleway and myself played in excess of 30 minutes per game.” Much like the defence, Ginnell gave his top forwards lots of ice time and they flourished. The top two lines on the Broncos had five 40 goals scorers and a 37-goal scorer.
Lindy Ruff, captain of the Broncos, broke his femur in Calgary in December of 1978. Simon was on the ice when it happened. “An innocent play racing for the puck on an icing call” recalled Simon. Unfortunately the injury ended Ruffs season. The loss of Ruff meant more ice time for Simon, and he flourished.
Simon recalled how Ginnell loved a physically intimidating brand of hockey and had a designated fourth line forward to be the first off the bench in the event of a brawl.
Duane Sutter led the team in scoring. Simon recalled how skilled he was and how much fun he was to be around. His 75 assists and 125 points led the team.
When playoff’s arrived, the Broncos had a great run that ended in a semi-final round robin defeat to Portland and Brandon. “We simply ran out of gas.” described Simon.
The 1979 NHL draft occurred in August that included underage players as the NHL merged with the remaining teams of the WHA and an underage Wayne Gretzky. The draft was limited to six rounds plus underage free agents. Duane Sutter, Lindy Ruff, Doug Morrison and Gordie Williams, all underage players, were drafted. While Simon was not drafted the Vancouver Canucks expressed an interest in him and he was thrilled the Philadelphia Flyers invited him to their training camp that fall.
Excited about his invite, Simon trained hard over the summer and headed to Philadelphia in the fall, hoping to leave an impression. That he did. The Flyers loved his hard-hitting defensive style and gave him every opportunity to play. Simon recalled how Bobby Clarke told him, “You are going to have a long career in the NHL.” Hanging out with Clarke was a thrill for Simon. As training camp ended, the Flyers informed him he’d be returning to the Broncos. He signed an NHL multi year contract as an underage free agent, excited about being one step closer to fulfilling his life long dream.
Returning to Lethbridge, the Broncos had a new coach in town with Mike Sauter returning to take the reigns following Ginnell’s departure to the Medicine Hat Tigers.
Given the amount of talent on the Broncos, the organization and fans felt a WHL championship was within reach. Simon recalled the “the huge amount of pressure” facing the team with the high expectations. Disappointment quickly mounted when Lindy Ruff made the Buffalo Sabres, followed by Duane Sutter joining the Islanders. The loss of two stars and a new coach behind the bench left the team in disarray. The Broncos struggled throughout the year, barely making the playoffs, and were quickly disposed of in a four-game sweep by the Regina Pats, led by Doug Wickenheiser who was drafted first overall in the NHL in the 1980 draft after scoring 89 goals and 170 points.
Simon’s last season of junior would be his last season of hockey. In early February 1980, in Calgary, Simon was crosschecked by a Wrangler and suffered a severe back injury, rupturing a disk. Aside from two brief appearances in the playoffs against the Regina Pats, his season and career were over. When Simon concluded his junior career, he stood fifth on the all-time Lethbridge Broncos record book in penalty minutes, with 549.
The Philadelphia Flyers medical staff examined Simon and recommended surgery. Simon attended training camp in the fall of 1980. Recognizing his game depended on physicality, the severe pain he encountered forced him to make the decision to end his playing days. So close to fulfilling his NHL dream, it was suddenly over.
Life after hockey began with a ten-month journey to Australia. With this adventure over, Simon needed to begin a different journey.
Simon commenced his business career in the early 1980’s as an Equities Trader for a major Canadian Securities firm. Leaving after multiple years, he successfully applied his skills as the creator and co-founder of a large publishing company, growing the company from two employees to over 150 in one year. The company was taken public on the Vancouver Stock Exchange and later sold to a national telecom. In the last 25 years, Simon has focused on Corporate Communications/Investor Relations and the management of multiple publicly traded companies in the mineral exploration and high-tech fields.
Simon lives in Whistler, BC and keeps active skiing and enjoying the numerous recreational activities the mountains provide. Not able to achieve his dream of playing in the NHL, he overcame this major disappointment through success in the business world.
Memories of his time with the Broncos remain. His hockey career, the successes and failures he experienced, served him well since he left his hockey career behind. Simon does wonder though, what might have been!
Jerry Bancks #19
Written by Mark Weninger
Jerry arrived in Lethbridge early in the 1974-1975 season after tearing up the AJHL with the Calgary Canucks. His 36 points in 13 games with the Calgary Canucks, following his release by the Broncos in training camp, created new interest in a small 5’9’ offensively gifted forward.
Jerry grew up in Calgary in what he described as a blue-collar neighbourhood. “I was a multi-sport athlete growing up, engaging in football, baseball and hockey. I loved all sports.” Jerry never fully committed to hockey until he was 18 years old and a member of the Calgary Canucks of the AJHL. Scoring 50 goals in 59 games for the Canucks in 1973-74 propelled a new sense of purpose for Jerry with hockey.
During his initial season with the Canucks, Jerry broke his jaw. Wired shut, he carried plyers with him in the event he got sick. Jerry recalled playing the Pass Red Devils in Blairmore wearing a football helmet to protect his jaw. John Chapman, coach of the Red Devils, called him over in warm up. Jerry, thinking he might say something encouraging, was told “we’re going to rip your head off.”
In mid-September, Jerry headed to Lethbridge with Don Eastcott, a teammate on the Canucks who had played parts of two seasons in the WCHL with the Flin Flon Bombers, Edmonton Oil Kings and Swift Current Broncos. Determined to make an impression, he knew his size and offensive game needed to stand out.
As training camp ended, Jerry received disappointing news. Earl Ingarfield let him know that he was being released. Returning to Calgary to join the Canucks he was angry over his release. He felt he was clearly better than many of those who remained on the Broncos. Jerry recalled, “The disappointment and anger I felt increased my drive to show the mistake Ingarfield had made.”
After an impressive start with the Canucks, the Broncos made the call for him to return. The Broncos were playing in Saskatoon. Jerry hopped on a flight and arrived in time for the game with the Blades. Afforded a three-game tryout, Jerry needed to make an impression quickly. Early in the game, Bob Hoffmeyer cross checked him in the head, which left him dazed. The Blades, behind former Bronco Bill Oleschuk, shut out the Broncos 3-0. Following the game, they headed to Flin Flon, where they defeated the Bombers twice behind a nine-point effort from Bryan Trottier. Returning to Lethbridge, Jerry stayed at the Marquis Hotel. Eating at the restaurant in the hotel, Jerry got food poisoning. With the rooms not having bathrooms, the challenge was getting to the end of the hall when nauseated. Things were not going well! Despite the long road trip, his injury in Saskatoon and his bout with food poisoning, the Broncos decided to keep him following his three-game tryout.
The Broncos moved Jerry into the home of Hank and Lois Lepko, where he roomed with Bryan Trottier. Jerry remembered clearly how impressed he was with this future NHL star - humble, respectful and easy to be around. Despite being on the payroll of the New York Islanders, Jerry stated that Trottier never flaunted a thing. The positive experience Jerry encountered living and playing with Trottier remains today.
Trottier loved to play the guitar and he often entertained his teammates when they gathered for team parties. Jerry recalled Trottier feeling somewhat embarrassed after arriving in Lethbridge with a Chrysler New Yorker. When his parents arrived for a visit late in the fall, they returned home with the New Yorker. Trottier bought a used Datsun 510 that struggled to run and created endless problems for both Trottier and Jerry as they tried to navigate the city during the cold winter months.
Jerry recalled another memory of Trottier. Gary Kirk, part owner of the Broncos, asked if any Broncos wanted to make extra money for Christmas by unloading tires at his shop. Jerry, in need of cash along with several other Broncos, showed up on a cold winter day to unload tires. Trottier suddenly appeared and helped out his teammates. Jerry recalled, “He probably unloaded more than anyone. That’s the kind of guy he was.”
Despite his scoring heroics in the AJHL, Jerry struggled after being recalled by the Broncos. After 12 games with the Broncos, he’d accumulated only two goals and one assist. Things were not going as planned. Being a small offensive minded forward, Jerry recognized his production needed to improve or he’d find himself back in the AJHL. On November 17, Jerry scored his first goal in the WCHL against the New Westminster Bruins in an 11-6 victory. As the month ended, the Broncos headed west to play the Bruins, Victoria Cougars and Kamloops Chiefs. Ingarfield gave Jerry the opportunity to play on the power play. On December 1, in New Westminster, Jerry scored his first hat-trick in a 10-5 loss. Playing the Bruins, perhaps the toughest team in the WCHL, seemed to bring the best out of Jerry. Following his hat trick, Jerry began scoring in an impressive fashion, finishing the season with 76 points in the next 45 games.
Jerry credited his scoring prowess to “Trottier and his ability to get the puck to me.” As the season progressed, he recalled telling Trottier he’d “win the Calder Trophy next year.”
Another Bronco that left a lasting impression on Jerry was Brian Sutter. Sutter’s focus, determination and commitment and his journey in hockey inspired him. ”An incredible human being who had a profound effect on my life,” recalled Jerry.
Jerry recalled how Broncos fans had posters referring to Don Johnson, a big 6’3” defenceman as the “Jolly Green Giant.” Jerry with his small stature was referred to as the “Little Green Sprout.” Teammates called him “Jed.”
Archie Henderson, a young 17-year-old, was the enforcer on the Broncos. Despite his size, Jerry recalled how he and Sutter used to torment him for fun. Henderson was chasing Sutter and Jerry down the hall in Flin Flon when he slammed his foot into the door and broke it.
After a tremendous rookie season in the WCHL, Jerry was excited about returning to the Lethbridge the following season as an overage. After a strong offensive finish the previous season, he felt he’d assume a leadership role on the Broncos. Ingarfield began the 1975-76 season with Jerry as the lone 20-year-old on the Broncos. Sutter was the captain and the scoring was led by rookie Steve Tambellini.
The season began well for Jerry. He put up 20 points in 17 games and was comfortable with his role on the young Bronco team. On a trip to the west coast in November, Ingarfield called him to his room and informed him that he’d been traded to the Calgary Centennials with Morley Scott for Mike Fynn. Shocked by the news and disappointed to be leaving the Broncos, he understood their desire to acquire a young Mike Fynn, an 18-year-old who had shown an offensive touch with the struggling Calgary Centennials.
The 1975-76 Calgary Centennials were in a state of disarray when Jerry arrived. Scotty Munro had passed away the previous year and the rebuilding Centennials struggled. Jerry recalled the excitement of playing in front of his parents, but nothing else impressed him. “The Broncos were a class organization while the Centennials were a gong show.”
Playing on a line with Elmer Ray and tough guy Ted Olsen, Jerry’s offensive production declined. Lots of fights and line brawls ensued, something Jerry didn’t enjoy.
Late in the season, on a road trip to the west coast, a line brawl broke out against the New Westminster Bruins. Jerry recalled getting “pummeled in a fight.” Later that night in the hotel room, he and Olsen were watching TV when highlights of the game came on. Jerry noted while he was getting beat up, his two linemates were engaged in fights while the two defenceman on the team stood by watching. Olsen was infuriated, paying a visit to each defensemen’s hotel room, expressing his anger and frustration with their unwillingness to support a teammate.
Bert Olmstead, a former NHL star and coach with the Oakland Seals, took over the team during the latter part of the season but nothing helped. Jerry reflected on his continued involvement with a team he described as “a gong show.” After scoring three goals against the Winnipeg Clubs late in the season, Jerry left the team and began to explore his options going forward.
The WHA Calgary Cowboys invited Jerry to training camp for the 1976-77 season. Despite a decent camp, Joe Crozier released him, telling him, he was “too small and didn’t skate well enough.” Offered the opportunity play with either the Tidewater Sharks of the Southern Hockey League (SHL) or Kimberley Dynamiters of the WIHL, he chose neither.
The University of Calgary appeared as the best option for Jerry in terms of an education and the opportunity to continue playing hockey. With that in mind, Jerry enrolled in the fall of 1976, beginning five-year career with the Dinos. Joining him on the Dinos was former Bronco teammate Russ Hall as well a Taber native and former Golden Sun, Dale Setoguchi.
“People underestimate how good university hockey is” stated Jerry. George Kingston, who coached the expansion San Jose Sharks from 1991-93, preached a structured defensive system that limited offensive chances. “It was tough scoring” recalled Jerry, who still put up solid offensive numbers during his time at the University of Calgary.
The Dinos were ranked number one in the country twice during Jerry’s time playing. They were unfortunately unable to capture a national championship losing to the University of Alberta and the University of Moncton at nationals.
When Jerry’s playing days ended, he graduated from university with a degree in education. He began a career in the classroom. For nine years Jerry taught physical education in Calgary before moving to Kimberley, in part to enjoy the mountains and the activities associated with it.
With a growing family to look after, Jerry’s attention was focussed on his children and their activities.
Jerry’s son Carter followed in his father’s hockey-playing footsteps. In 2005 he played briefly with the Lethbridge Hurricanes before joining the team on a full-time basis for the next four seasons from 2006-2010. During his last season with the Hurricanes, Carter was the captain of the team. Following his junior career, he played 11 seasons in the AHL with Abbotsford and Utica. On March 23, 2013 the Calgary Flames called him up and he played two games for the Flames against the Nashville Predators and Chicago Black Hawks. While his professional career continued, he never appeared in another NHL game.
After focusing his time watching Carter play in Lethbridge, in 2010, Jerry became the assistant coach with the Kootenay Ice. Coaching with Kris Knoblauch, the Ice captured the WHL championship during their first year together. Coaching together for one more season, the team played well but fell short of another championship. After his second season of coaching, Knoblauch left the Ice and accepted the head coaching job with the Erie Otters. Jerry then worked with a former Bronco, Ryan McGill, behind the bench. After one season together, Jerry took over the head coaching role with the Kimberley Dynamiters, a Junior B team.
Jerry continues to live in Kimberley, retired from teaching for the last eight years. Jerry’s fondest memories of Lethbridge include the time he spent with Trottier, both on and off the ice.
Left Wing 1974-1975
Written by Mark Weninger
Stan joined the Lethbridge Broncos in the fall of 1974 and had the distinction of scoring the first goal in Lethbridge Bronco history. Wearing number 12 for the green and gold, he scored 13 goals in 41 games in a season cut short by two serious knee injuries.
Stan grew up in the Saskatchewan community of Moosomin, a small village of 2,200 people, twelve miles west of the Manitoba border on the Trans-Canada Highway. The town grew substantially during the 1960’s when a potash mine was opened 17 miles north of the town. It’s also mentioned in several lyrics in the Guess Who’s classic song “Running back to Saskatoon.”
Stan’s family lived on the edge of town and he quickly fell in love with hockey. There was no artificial ice surface so it was shinny with friends on a nearby slough in late fall until the rink was ready to go. Countless hours were spent on an icy street playing road hockey with friends, often under a street light until the call came to go inside. There was hockey in the winter and baseball in the summer. He was fortunate enough to be part of provincial championship teams in both Bantam and Jr. B hockey in his hometown.
Stan’s minor hockey career led to an invite, in the fall of 1972, with the Prince Albert Raiders of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL). Terry Simpson, who later coached the New York Islanders in the mid 1980’s, began his junior coaching career with the Raiders one month into Stan’s first season in Prince Albert. Stan enjoyed two seasons in Prince Albert. They finished first in the Northern Division of the SJHL in his second season and brought the first Provincial Jr A Championship title to the city. Stan described his experience as the “time of his life” up to that point, playing hockey away from home for the first time, enjoying the game and the life of a junior hockey player.
During his two seasons with the Raiders Stan played with future Broncos Darcy Regier, Ron Delorme, Rollie Boutin, Bill Oleschuk, Doug Tetarenko and Dwayne Endicott.
When the Raiders were eliminated from the playoffs in the spring of 1974, Stan Dunn, coach of the Swift Current Broncos, made the call for reinforcements in the playoffs against the Flin Flon Bombers. Stan recalled jumping on an old rickety plane in Prince Albert, flying into Flin Flon to join the Broncos who were about to upset Patty Ginnell and his vaunted Bombers. Stan recalled it was the “most intense” hockey experience he had ever encountered facing the Bombers. “It was an eye-opening experience” playing in the small Whitney Forum that housed one of the toughest junior hockey teams in the WCHL. After playing two games, replacing an injured forward, he headed home to Moosomin, hopeful to join the Broncos the following season.
During the summer of 1974, the Swift Current Broncos had moved to Lethbridge. Heading west for training camp, Stan was hopeful the new coach of the Broncos, Earl Ingarfield, would see something in a 19-year-old rookie hoping to make his mark. The Broncos, having lost many of their top scorers from the previous year, provided Stan the opportunity, and he made the most of it.
As training camp wrapped up, he, along with Archie Henderson and Garth Morgan, moved in with new billets. Stan remembers the billets as very nice people. The father’s name was Ed, a brew master at Pilsner Brewery in Lethbridge. Stan recalled having the opportunity to sample some of the product Ed had a hand in producing. The new arena in Lethbridge was the nicest building he had ever seen, let alone having the privilege to play in. There wasn’t enough time to have a part time job, so having the luxury of playing racquetball or tennis right there was a treat.
Stan’s younger roommate quickly made an impression. He recalled Archie as a 17-year-old rookie who feared no one. Stan often chuckles when reminiscing about a night in Flin Flon when Archie was chasing teammates down the hall in the hotel. He slammed his toe into a door and broke it. Ingarfield was not impressed when Archie missed a few games due to his antics.
The star of the Broncos was Bryan Trottier. “Bryan occasionally took his guitar on road trips,” recalled Stan and he would entertain his teammates. As impressed as anyone with Trottier’s hockey talent, living in the same cul-de-sac with Bryan afforded Stan the opportunity to watch him on occasion play road hockey with neighborhood youth, leaving a lasting impression on everyone on the street.
Stan described his time in Lethbridge as bittersweet. On opening night he scored the first goal in Bronco history and had a very solid first half of the season, playing with a variety of forwards. Things changed suddenly on New Year’s Day 1975 in Medicine Hat during an 11-2 loss to the Tigers. Stan was hit by a Tiger, damaging his knee enough that surgery was required. Following surgery, he was informed he’d miss the next twelve weeks of the season.
Watching the Broncos and the Regina Pats battle for second place for the next twelve weeks from the stands was a challenge and a bitter disappointment. In early March, Stan began to rehab his knee and joined the Broncos on a west coast road trip to complete the season. Needing a victory to clinch second place, the Broncos trailed New Westminster 6-3 with ten minutes left in the third period. The Broncos exploded for four goals to win the game and clinch second place in the east. Late in the second period of that game, Stan was driving to the Bruin net and was about to celebrate a Bronco goal when he was shoved from behind, propelling him into the goal post, which in those days was securely anchored with steel pins. He tore up his already surgically repaired knee. “I can still see that moment vividly. All I could do is attempt to slide out of the way and then I hit it hard. The pain was instant and excruciating, it felt as though my leg had been ripped apart. I screamed so hard and long I think I lost consciousness. I just remember our trainer over me at some point and I gripped him so hard I am sure he was probably bruised for weeks.” His season was over, as was his time in the WCHL.
The Broncos pulled out of New Westminster shortly after the game, heading to Victoria without Stan. Taken to the hospital, he was operated on by the orthopedic surgeon of the Vancouver Canucks. His knee injury was severe. The surgeon recounted that everything had been torn apart and he had repaired it well enough for him to continue to play hockey, but it was never the same in terms of range of motion, which impacted his hockey future. His knee continues to bother him to this day.
When the season ended, so did Stan’s time in Lethbridge. Not ready to hang up the blades, he hoped to return to Prince Albert and join the Raiders for his last season of junior hockey. However, the Raiders had too many over-age players. A few days after having the rug pulled out from his plans and dealing with the Raiders wanting him out of the SJHL, he was eventually allowed to join the Yorkton Terriers, which was closer to his hometown. This team posed no threat to unseat the dominant Raiders. He finished his time in junior hockey that season.
Still wanting to play some hockey, Stan headed to northern British Columbia where he played two seasons of senior hockey with the Prince George Mohawks. While playing there, they captured the Coy and Hardy Cups as national intermediate champions. During his time in Prince George he was fortunate to tour Japan with the team, where they played exhibition games against several teams including the Japanese national team and a team from the Soviet Union.
Following that second season in Prince George, Stan recognized his playing days had afforded him a pretty unique experience, but not a very prosperous future. Working away in gas construction that summer, the RCMP showed up at the worksite one day. Turns out the Nipawin Hawks Jr B hockey team was searching for a coach/manager and wanted to interview him. After two good years in Nipawin he was afforded the opportunity to take on the same duties with the Melville Millionaires in the SJHL. In his first year in Melville he was voted Coach of the Year in the SJHL by rival coaches in the league.
Recognizing the challenges of coaching, the occupational hazards of the job and just having their first child, Stan decided to return to his hometown of Moosomin after his second season at the helm in Melville, leaving behind any further dreams of coaching. He fulfilled a dream he envisioned with cooperation from a very generous and community minded Credit Union manager, opening up a very basic sporting goods store and turned his attention to the business world. After twelve successful years selling sporting equipment, he sold the store and moved to Prince Albert, where he purchased another store that he operated for ten years.
Ready to retire, he and his family headed west to Kimberly to enjoy the mountains. Recognizing the need to keep active, he managed the liquor store for seven years. Family affairs had him returning to northern Saskatchewan to officially retire and enjoy the many lakes in the area. With his wife, they settled in the Christopher Lake area where they live on a small acreage.
Stan drives into Prince Albert on a regular basis in the winter to play a bit of shinny with some old boys in the NHL (Noonhour Hockey League), which is what they humorously identify the exercise as. His summers are spent enjoying the amazing golf courses in the area, boating at one of the many lakes, and working out on the acreage. He is extremely thankful for modern medicine to be able to remain active despite his arthritis and bad knee. The scars on the knee serve as a reminder of some very enjoyable moments with teammates and friends and some very cringe worthy moments of his days in Lethbridge. “Oh to be young and stupid again and be afforded a do over. It appears though that I have been extremely lucky to this point. Cheers everyone”