Stars still in shock
In an interview Monday afternoon at Ile des Chenes, less than 48 hours after the Ile des Chenes North Stars had dramatically captured one of the most storied trophies in Canadian hockey history, team captain Ryan St Laurent and manager Roger St Laurent were still in shock as the incredible events of the previous week at the Allan Cup final four at Dundas, Ont., were just starting to sink in.
The Ile des Chenes North Stars have carved out a dynasty in the Hanover Tache Hockey League during the last decade and a half, finishing first in the senior loop a dozen times and claimed the championship another half dozen times. Nine of those years the North Stars entered the Allan Cup playdowns, making their first trip to the Allan Cup at Truro, Nova Scotia, in 1998. Their second trip, in 2003, resulted in a national title.
Presented to the top Senior AAA hockey team in Canada, reading the inscriptions on the Allan Cup is like stepping back into Canadian history. The Canadian Amateur Hockey Perpetual Challenge Trophy was donated by Sir H. Montague Allan in March 1909, shortly after the Stanley Cup became the championship trophy of professional hockey. Ile des Chenes becomes the first Manitoba team to win the Allan Cup since the Winnipeg Maroons accomplished the feat in 1964.
The Ottawa Cliffsides were the first winners of the trophy. Winnipeg teams won the Allan Cup five of the first nine years. In 1979 the Allan Cup went to the Petrolia Squires, who defeated the Steinbach Huskies in the best of seven finals. The Huskies that year, with stirring wins over Camrose and then the Trail Smoke Eaters, injected Allan Cup frenzy into the community that has yet to be repeated.
Playing under the Manitoba Amateur Hockey Association, the powerful Warrorad Lakers from Minnesota won three straight titles in the mid-90's.
This edition of the Ile des Chenes North Stars was clearly the best team the organization has ever assembled. The North Stars have won nine of 10 games this year on the road to the Allan Cup including the 3-2 double overtime win Saturday night in Dundas in the Allan Cup final over Alberta's Stony Plain Eagles. In early March, Ile des Chenes hosted the Manitoba championship, a three-team round robin that also included the HTHL champion La Broquerie Habs and Warroad Islanders. The North Stars edged Warroad 8-7 in the final, then swept the Lloydminster Border Kings three straight at Lloydminster, earning their second trip to the Allan Cup final four.
The core of the team is several players from the North Stars' regular HTHL roster. The team is also affiliated with Foxwarren, which brought on board, among others former NHL star Pat Falloon, a second overall draft pick behind Eric Lindros in the 1991 NHL draft. Another key part of the puzzle was the addition of Kelly Glowa from Brandon, who spent 15 years playing professional hockey in Europe. Glowa, who scored the overtime winner for the North Stars in the final, was named the Most Valuable Player of the tournament. Falloon was the leading scorer in the tourney.
Roger St Laurent, the longtime manager at Ile des Chenes, says this team improved every time they went out since they played their first game as a team on March 7. "It is unreal right now," said St Laurent, "to think that now we are a part of Canadian hockey history." St Laurent was referring to the Canadian Hockey Hall of Fame, which houses the Allan Cup for most of the year. The North Stars' jersey of Kelly Glowa will also be on display in the Hall as will the stick Pat Falloon used to set up Glowa's winning goal.
Along the way, St Laurent received Allan Cup words of wisdom from two legends in the game, Mr. Hockey himself, Cal Marvin of Warroad, and Lou Joyal, manager of the 1964 Winnipeg Maroons.
Ile des Chenes opened the tournament Tuesday with a 6-3 victory over Lancaster, N.B. as Kelly Glowa picked up two goals and two assists to lead the way. Defenceman Gerald Tetrault also netted a pair while Ryan St Laurent and Jamie Leach added singles. Smokey Reddick stopped 33 shots for the North Stars.
In their second game on Wednesday the North Stars lost 5-3 to host Dundas. With Reddick nursing an injury since the Lloydminster series, Scott Cameron got the start. Ile des Chenes outshot Dundas 40-37 but lost 5-3. Pat Falloon with a pair and Chris Low were the Ile des Chenes marksmen. Cameron played well in net but the North Stars struggled in the game.
Rob Giesbrecht arrived in Dundas on Wednesday and took over the goaltending reins for the final two games as he backstopped the North Stars to the Allan Cup championship.
In their final round robin game against Stony Plain, the North Stars scored three unanswered goals in the third to cruise to a 6-2 victory. Giesbrecht made 27 saves. Pat Falloon scored a pair for the Stars while singles came from Jamie Leach, Mike Martens, Kelly Glowa and Chris Low. Gerald Tetrault picked up two assists. The win advanced the North Stars right to the final. Stony Plain blanked Lancaster 3-0 in the semi-final.
Giesbrecht was the hero in the Allan Cup championship game, as he stopped 39 shots in the double overtime win. Craig Geekie, Ryan St Laurent and then Kelly Glowa in double overtime took care of the scoring.
Giesbrecht, 28, is an all-round athlete who has been involved in Canadian and World Championships before, but never in hockey. "This is an unbelievable feeling."
Signed as a free agent by baseball's Minnesota Twins in 1992, he spent a year in the Twins organization in 1993 before returning home to Landmark. He is also one of the top fastball players in Canada. He will play for the Canadian fastball team at the Pan Am Games in the Dominican Republic this summer. As a junior he was captain of Team Canada in leading Canada to the World Junior Fastball Championship in New Zealand, where he was named the MVP. He also won an ISC world fastball title playing for a professional team in Nebraska last year.
A grade four and physical education teacher at Landmark Elementary, Giesbrecht says some of his students were asking for his autograph when he returned to school on Monday, to which her retorted, "you already have my autograph, it's on your report card."
Team captain Ryan St Laurent said after the winning goal "it was more of a shock, I didn't know how to celebrate, it didn't sink in until I saw the Team Canada logo on the championship banner."
Over the next few weeks the Allan Cup will be circulating among team members who can each keep it for a day. But this treasure has to be guarded as the North Stars had to put up a $10,000 bond to take it back to Manitoba. It will be returned to the Hockey Hall of Fame in June.