Thirty years already! The years have flown by since 1986 and the inception of the Manitoba AAA Midget Hockey Association and the Southwest Cougars team. This milestone was recognized at a current game in Deloraine on December 21 when the current Southwest Cougars team hosted the Pembina Valley Hawks.
Cougar’s manager Liza Park was the emcee for a special program commemorating the 1986 Cougars alumni prior to the game.
“We have chosen this game in Deloraine to pay tribute to over 30 years of the AAA Midget League organization by recognizing the Cougars team from 30 years ago. The Cougars organization was originally formed in 1984/85 in Deloraine and was first coached by Dennis Olischefski and Wayne Wilson. Players from that team in attendance included Troy Gould, Tony Franklin, Jeff Smart, Bruce McCallum, Bill Robertson and Daryl Albrecht. Coaching/managing staff included Brian Franklin, Bob Caldwell and Wayne Wilson.
“I’d also like to take this opportunity to mention some important people who have been with the Cougars for a number of years and are the consistency of the organization: Grant Moffat - President, Sam Phillips - Treasurer, Linda Perrin - Game Announcer; Gerry Williams - Game Day Operations and Deanna Kowalchuk - Trainer. This year’s coaches include Dennis McNish, Derek Moar and Dan Avril. Cougar alumni from Deloraine include: Jeff Adams, Ryan Adams, Derek Beuselinck, Ryan Caldwell, Jeff Cassan, Trent Cassan*, Tyler Crowe, Jacob Dietrich*, Nick Dietrich, Josh Dobbyn, Tony Franklin, Trevor Gordon, Trevor Hicks, Grady Hobbs, Quin Hobbs, Matthew Joyal, Mike King, Trent King, Troy Kliever*, Gerald Lanchbery, Jordan McCausland, Brad Mills, Nial Mills, Cory More, Brett Morrison, Chris Nielsen*, Cole Olson*, Mitch Olson*, Sutton Olson**, Jamie Olson, Rennen Rommelaere (he holds the record for the most games played as a Cougar to this date – 147)**, Rylan Rommelaere, Jason Rommelaere, Jay Sunaert, Brad Vandenberghe, Jordan Vanrobaeys, Joel Whiteside*, Galen Wilson and Tracy Klimczak.On this year’s roster from Deloraine is McCullough Park. Note: a * behind the name indicates being chosen for an All Star Team and number of years chosen.
Liza introduced Bob Caldwell.
“Bob was an assistant coach of the Cougars team 30 years ago and has also been a driving force of player development locally as well as provincially, nationally and world wide,” she said. “The team enjoyed a successful season that first year. We are proud of the players not only for their on-ice success years ago but also the fact they are now leaders in their communities and also that many are now coaches. The goal of the AAA league was to provide the opportunity to play and develop at home and then move on to Juniors and university. Thank you to Brian Franklin and Wayne Wilson for their contributions as manager and coach.”
Brian Franklin was the manager of the 1986 team. He thanked coach Wayne Wilson and assistant coach Bob Caldwell and the players for the roles they played then and now.
Nine-year old Charly Artz is an avid hockey player with the Deloraine Atoms. She is also passionate about singing and was asked to sing the National Anthem. This is quite an honour and a bit overwhelming in front of a big crowd - no worries - Charly nailed it! Way to go!
Brian Franklin did the official puck-drop with the team captains. The game was fast and entertaining with Pembina Valley winning 3-0.