OLDS — The induction of the 1991-1994 editions of the Olds Grizzlys into the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame was not only an honour but it brought about 35 people connected with the team together for a memorable reunion.
The induction ceremony was held May 26 at Red Deer Polytechnic.
From 1991 to 1994, the Grizzlys won three straight Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL) championships. They were coached and managed at that time by the late Bob Clark, along with Chris Stewart and Cliff Murphy.
During the 1993-94 season they went on to win the Centennial Cup, making them the top junior A hockey team in Canada that season.
“It went better than expected, I think. There were a lot of happy faces, guys who hadn’t seen each other for so long,” teammate and Olds Grizzlys president Josh Erdman said during an interview.
Before those editions of the team were inducted, a video featuring interviews of Grizzlys alumni from that era was played.
Erdman was among the interviewees featured in that video.
He praised the late Bob Clark who was the general manager then and Chris Stewart, the head coach.
“They were the witches over the pot but they put in the right ingredients and I mean, as far as talent, we had the top talented guys. It was definitely a special time,” he said.
Other guys featured in the video included Kevin McDonald and Joe Murphy.
“We could score goals, but then we had some toughness as well, so we had a good mix on the team,” McDonald said.
“(We were) good defensively and we had good goaltending. And like I said, our top end players, they were good.”
"No matter where you were at on the depth chart, everyone had the same rules,” Murphy said.
“You had a job to do and it was expected you did it and if we didn’t do it, you were held to the same level as somebody who might score 50 (goals) but if they didn’t score 50, they had to answer too.”
“It was nice to play in front of thousands of people. It was loud, it was exciting,” Murphy added.
“You know, winning anywhere is great, but winning in your hometown when you’re hosting and the expectation was high for us too, certainly internally and then nationally, to perform.”
Erdman gave the acceptance speech on behalf of the team as he and about 19 other teammates took to the stage and beyond.
Erdman and Jeramie Heistad, another teammate from that era, said while it was “cool” to be inducted, they were especially thrilled to gather for the weekend with more than 30 others to reminisce about the 1991-1994 Grizzlys squads.
They gathered at Erdman’s home in Red Deer for barbecues, beers and golf and told lots of tales about those years.
And they came from far and wide.
Erdman noted that Miro Skovira, who scored the game-tying goal in the Centennial Cup final, came all the way from Czechia for the event.
“The induction was cool and it was a great experience and I wouldn’t take anything away from it, but I would love to next weekend get together with all my buddies again,” Erdman said.
“It was one of those ones where everybody said ‘when’s the next time we get together?’”
“We just picked up right where we left off. And there wasn’t enough time, couldn’t talk to everybody,” Erdman said.
"Everybody said they felt like they were 17 and 18 again,” Heistad said
“We partied like we were,” Edrman said with a laugh.
However, he admitted the weekend was a stressful thing to organize.
“For me, the stress was getting everything together for this one. I’m no Bob Clark, put it that way.”
Erdman and Heistad were impressed with the event at Red Deer Polytechnic.
They said it was first-class event, even better than their induction into the Alberta Hockey Hall of Fame in 2014.
“When you showed up you got your boutonnière and a glass of champagne. It just made you feel like it was a special event," Heistad said.
He said as a taxpayer, he was upset that the provincial government doesn’t put more money into entities like the Hall of Fame.
The Grizzlys were among 11 inductees to the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame.
Two Red Deer people were inducted: Allan Ferchuk and Lauralyn Radford in the multisport builder category.
Other inductees were former Calgary Stampeder quarterback Andrew Buckley; Edmonton-born pitcher Mike Johnson; bobsleigh athlete Helen Upperton; Cara Currie Hall who has dedicated to building and promoting indigenous sports and former Calgary Stampeder Greg Peterson who went on to spur development of athletic facilities in Calgary.
The Achievement Award went to Wilf Brooks, who spurred development of sport for over 60 years.
Calgary sportscaster Mark Stephen was presented with the Bell Memorial Award.
Dr. Marcus Dunsworth received the Pioneer Award. Dunsworth not only won the city of Edmonton championship in tennis and handball 14 times, he was also a provincial champion in tennis, football, basketball, and track as well as a two-time Grey Cup finalist.