By Josh Lewis
Six men were forever cemented in the history books of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League on Friday night (March 1, 2013) as the newest inductees of the SJHL Hall of Fame.
Former Estevan Bruins players and builders Ron Dunville, Bruce Firth, Alan May, Bill Shinske, Ray Frehlick and Terry Simpson were enshrined in the Hall of Fame during an induction ceremony held at the Days Inn Plaza.
The six men join previous Hall of Fame honourees from Weyburn, Humboldt and Yorkton over the last three years. The Hall now has 15 inductees.
May, a power forward who played an integral role on the Bruins' first SJHL championship team in 1984-85, gave an emotional yet entertaining address.
May, who went on to play six NHL seasons and is now a TV analyst on Washington Capitals' broadcasts, needed some time to continue when speaking about his father, who is recovering from a Jan. 4 heart attack.
"You go on to have an exceptional life, have an amazing life, but you forget to say thanks. Tonight’s my time to say something to my dad," May said. "Dad, I want to thank you for everything you’ve done."
He added that he was awestruck upon visiting Spectra Place, after having spent his four years with the Bruins in the Civic Auditorium.
"What you’ve done in this town, and what the people do for this team, how you built this new arena, and the way everyone gave their money and did everything they could to do this — I walked into it and I want to come back and play and I want my eight-year-old to play here — it’s absolutely amazing," he said.
Frehlick spoke about the transition period in 1971 when Estevan lost the Big Bruins to New Westminster and rallied to get an expansion team in the SJHL.
"As I look back, our budget at that time in 1971-72 was $380,000. We just couldn’t raise that kind of money in this community at that time and they decided to move to New Westminster. We scrambled around — and I’ve gotta give a lot of thanks to our good friends George Sereggela and Gord Tenold, and the number of people who decided to get an entry back in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League," said Frehlick.
As manager of the New Bruins, Frehlick made sure that the use of profanity was stamped out.
"There was a strange word the hockey players used a lot of the time. It was a four-letter word, but it wasn’t the word love. I instituted a rule that anybody using the four-letter word other than the word love, it was going to be a dollar fine each time. Of course, they were only getting a dollar a day."
May later replied to a roaring crowd, "Mr. Frehlick, I owe you about $45,000 for using that word."
Frehlick also expressed his admiration for former Weyburn Red Wings coach Dwight McMillan, who was in attendance at the induction ceremony.
"I think the guy should be beside the statue of Tommy Douglas along the 39 Highway (in Weyburn)," Frehlick said.
Dunville said it was an honour to be in the Hall of Fame alongside players like former NHLers Chris Chelios, Ron Hextall, Glenn Hall and Brian Propp, former Bruins coach Gerry James and McMillan.
"I will remember this forever," he said.
Dunville, the Bruins' all-time top scorer, took some time to acknowledge teammates and coaches who helped him succeed.
"Just to name a few, Bruce Firth, and his brother Barry was a fantastic player as well; Murray Salaway, who was my centreman for my best season as an Estevan Bruin; Wayne Chegwin was the right winger on that line; coach (Gary) McKechney and Grant Fagerheim."
Firth, who was Dunville's teammate for several seasons and is the club's second-leading scorer of all-time, dedicated his induction to his twin brother Barry.
"He was an SJHL all-star defenceman who was both an offensive and defensive wizard," said Firth. "He helped me as a player, as a brother and as a friend. Thank you, Barry, for your support over those years and for your support since. I share this award with you."
Firth said his father, who passed away in 1989, had dreamed of having both sons play junior hockey.
"I know how proud he was that both Barry and I played for the Estevan Bruins."
Simpson played four years with the Big Bruins from 1960-64, but he was inducted for his dazzling record as a coach with the Prince Albert Raiders in the 1970s.
"I had no formal coaching instruction, so I just jumped in and I started coaching and learned as I went. I learned from guys like Gary McKechney and (McMillan), Gerry James and so on. We all were in the league together, playing," said Simpson, who went on to be a head coach with the New York Islanders, Winnipeg Jets and Philadelphia Flyers.
Simpson joked that one of Estevan's biggest inconveniences was just as much of a problem 50 years ago.
"Those trains that are here, they’re the longest trains I ever saw in my life," he laughed.
John Shinske, son of the late Bill Shinske, kept his words brief on behalf of the family. His sister, Robbie, was also in attendance.
"Congratulations to the recipients of the ethics award this year. It was very important to my father. He drilled the ideas of hard work and respect into my brother Rich, my sister Robbie and myself," he said.
"My dad has always felt that Saskatchewan was our home, and he’s smiling down on us today. I can hear him repeating the three things he was always yelling from the stands: skate, keep your head up, and two hands on your stick."