1984-1985 Prince Albert Raiders
The final piece of the Prince Albert Raider dynasty was put in place in the spring of 1985.
Under the guidance of coach and general manager Terry Simpson the Raider organization had collected four Centennial Cup championships at the Junior A level From 1977‑ 1982. In the fall of 1982, the Raiders moved up to the higher major junior level and as expected they struggled in that inaugural campaign winning just 16 and tying another in 72 contests.
The foundation was set, however, for a fast rise to the top of major hockey. In their second season in the Western Hockey League, the Raiders improved to 41‑29‑2 for fifth place in the East Division and their first appearance in the post season. Although the five‑game setback to the Medicine Hat Tigers in the opening round was disappointing, the team gained some valuable experience for what lay ahead.
Then came Prince Albert’s version of the “Miracle on Ice”. The Raiders finished first in the East Division with 58 wins 11 losses and three ties and gained a bye in the first round of the play‑offs. Prince Albeit then disposed of the Calgary Wranglers in four straight games in the East Division semifinals and gained a measure of revenge in the division final when they eliminated Medicine Hat in five matches. A four‑game sweep of the Kamloops Blazers gave the Raiders their first‑ever WHL title and a trip to the Memorial Cup.
The “Cinderella Story” was completed with a 6‑1 victory over the Shawinigan Cataractes in the Memorial Cup final. After losing their first preliminary round‑robin game, the Raiders won their next two and defeated the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds 8‑3 in the semifinals to gain a berth in the championship game.
The roster of that championship team was exclusive as it possessed four future first‑round draft picks ‑ David Manson (Chicago Blackhawks), Kim Issel (Edmonton Oilers), Pat Elynuik (Winnipeg Jets) and Dave Pasin (Boston Bruins). Several others including Emanuel Vivieros, Rod Dallman, Curtis Hunt, Dave Goertz, Tony Grenier, Roydon Gunn and Steve Gotaas all had shots at playing in the NHL, but they spent the majority of their professional careers playing in the minors.
The three fan favourites ‑ Dan Hodgson, Ken Baumgartner and Brad Bennett ‑ all took different paths to remain in hockey. Hodgson, the Raiders’ leading scorer of all time, made it to the NHL first with the Toronto Maple Leafs and then with the Vancouver Canucks. A serious leg injury forced Hodgson out of the NHL and he played a number of years in the European leagues along with Issel and Vivieros. Baumgartner, affectionately known as the “Bomber,” has enjoyed a lengthy NHL career with the Los Angeles Kings, New York Islanders and Toronto Maple Leafs. He was also one of the main negotiators for the National Hockey League Player’s Association during the strike‑shortened 1994‑95 NHL season. Bennett played overseas for a few years before finally hooking up with his former Raider teammate Doug Hobson as an assistant coach with the Victoria and Prince George Cougars of the WHL.
Other members of the Memorial Cup championship team included Ward Komonosky, Dale McFee, Kurt Woolf, Neil Davey, Ken Morrison, Don Schmidt, Colin Feser and Dean Braham. McFee has returned to his alma mater as an assistant coach with the Raiders.
Coach Terry Simpson moved on to the NHL as a head coach with the New York Islanders and Philadelphia Flyers and as an assistant coach with the Winnipeg Jets. His assistant in 1984‑85 Rick Wilson, has also enjoyed a lengthy career in the NHL as an assistant coach with the Islanders, Kings and Dallas Stars.
One final member of the championship squad moved up to the NHL and that was team trainer Stan Wilson who is with the Winnipeg Jets as an equipment manager.
In three short years the Raiders returned to the top of the junior hockey world. It is a testament to the organization and the people involved. The Prince Albert Sports Hall of Fame gladly welcomes the Memorial Cup champions into the hall in the team category.
Inducted into the Prince Albert Sports Hall of Fame in 1995.