Following the speeches from Ivan Strain (long-time CJRB Radio announcer and hockey colour commentator) and Harvey Nichol (long time Referee and present Tiger Hills Hockey League president), some of the Royals spoke about their team – so as to cover all the eras of the Deloraine Royals.
Gary Ewen was a member of the original 1968-69 Royals and was described by emcee Bob Caldwell as the official archivist for the Royals. Before beginning his talk, Ewen offered congratulations on the beautiful new facility. He went on to say that he was recruited by Fred Desjardin and Dennis Olischefski to come and play hockey in Deloraine. Ivan Wilson was the coach, and Ewen remembers a warm community where everyone had a nickname. He also remembers Astle’s Men’s Wear providing socks for each league win
Ewen said it takes many things to succeed — good players and teamwork being a couple of them. “You need players with no egos – they are happy for themselves and their team, their coaches and managers. New players have to feel welcome. The players have to be totally committed and competitive.
“I remember Sunday morning practices and everyone was there.”
Family support is also needed continued Ewen. “I’m sure their patience was tested many times.
A strong minor hockey system is important and community and fan support. “I remember people driving players to away games and serving on the executive committee. Mrs. Dave Dunn mended and laundered the uniforms, Polly Hardy sitting at the gate all those years and Hymer – Lee Vanmackelberg – the Royals’ greatest fan.
Ewen recalled a few highlights:
• 1973 – were undefeated in league play, won the pennant
• Playing the Polish National team with 1600 people in attendance
•1974-75 winning the 2nd league championship and then lost to Flin Flon in the provincials. A plane was actually rented to go to Flin Flon “quite an experience”- game in Deloraine had 2200 in attendance and over 80 fans traveled to Flin Flon
- 1975-76 possibly the best season – league champs. “I remember getting cut and being sewn up by Doc”. In the second game, we were down 5-4 and scored four goals in 97 seconds to win 8-5. In game 3 we also scored four 3rd period goals and there were 1,000 in attendance for the final game – “can you see a trend here – probably the start of the Deloraine Third”
- 1976-1979 – won three consecutive league championships. In that last season we were the Intermediate B Champs – played 42 games and lost two.
I was very proud to wear the Royals jersey for 12 seasons
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Dietrich shares memories
Former NHL’er, Olympian and Royal, Don Dietrich was invited by Caldwell to share some memories.
“It’s an honour to be up here. I always say since I’ve had Parkinson’s that I have my friend with me, and he is trying to come out right now but I won’t let him. It feels very comfortable being here with you tonight and that helps a lot.
“I remember being eight years old watching Gary Ewen play without a helmet. When Gary got his first mask I remember him lying on a counter while Denny Olischefski poured plaster paris over his face to make a mold and Gary having straws in his mouth so he could breath. I remember running home and telling my mom “I think he’s gonna die!”
Dietrich said kids dreamt about playing junior hockey and NHL and “I dreamt of playing with the Royals, and after playing in the NHL and being diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 1996 my dream came true. I loved every minute.”
Speaking of Hymer, Dietrich said whenever he came home from whatever hockey he was playing away from home, he’d go visit Hymer (who lived next door). “And Hymer would talk about nothing but the Royals, and he could recite the line-up including their number.”
“So I came back and played with the Royals and then coached them a bit. I wish you the best,” he concluded.
• • •
Twordik speaks for Millennium Royals
“We kept some traditions through the years – whether it was a home or away game, we’d get home at the same time and, we played down to our competitors and of course there were always nicknames,” joked Twordik.
“The years I played can be thought of as the import years — several players went away to play junior hockey and then came back to play for the Royals and brought a couple of guys with them. One of those players was Curtis Campbell. He’s the only guy I know who can line up 10 pucks and still score 9 out of 10 with his eyes closed. He’s also the only guy I know who made a ref quit. At one game, he just said to the ref “Why don’t you just quit?” – and the ref skated off the ice.
Twordik talked a bit about the back-to-back league championships. “ We won these in different ways. The first one – that year we had an amazing year and it just seemed natural we could win it all. The second year the first half of the season was pretty dismal and then come January we won 11 or 12 in a row and we were right there again.” Though the hockey was exciting and winning was great, Twordik says his favourite memory is off the ice – they were driving home one night and came across a truck in the ditch. “So a bunch of us peeled out of the van and started to help this guy and he didn’t seem too happy to have help – I will never forget it.”
At the end of it all, it’s about the people. “Hartz” (Trevor Hartel) was always ready with what we needed, he always had wax for me. And today, in walks Hartz into the dressing room and throws me some wax!”
“We also had some great managers – Ratso (Brian Franklin) and Doug Whiteside. . .and then there’s Coco – his motivational speeches were one for the ages. You don’t survive 50 years without people like that. But, my all-time favourite motivational speaker is none other than Winks (Jeremy Perriman). At the time Soupy (Curtis Campbell) was in a scoring slump and Winks said to him (as only Winks can) “What happened? You used to be good.” And that’s all it took — and I swear Soupy started scoring again!”
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Morrison speaks for current Royals’ team
Royals captain, Brett Morrison said the years following the two championships were challenging. The first year after was looking good but “jobs, kids, priorities – and we lost a few players. Our record was 5-16-1 – it doesn’t look that good on paper but we made some noise in the playoffs – losing to Killarney. But you know what – good times are had, whether you win or lose.”
The next season we lost more players and we clearly knew we were in survival mode. We ended with a 5-11-1 record, but again, we had a lot of fun.” The Royals kept grinding away – knowing the future of the team was all that mattered.
“In 2016-17 we were faced with no goaltender and no coach, and then a talented young goalie - Rylan Rommelaere appeared – and Logan Maxwell signed a 21-year deal as coach. Again, we did not have a good record, but again, we had a lot of fun.”
The 2018-19 edition of the Royals have a few more victories and continue to have a lot of fun.