By Dave Leaderhouse
It will be a special night for several people and organizations when the Battlefords North Stars host the 2017 Saskatchewan Hockey Hall of Fame induction banquet on July 22 at the North Battleford Civic Centre.
Being feted in the player’s category are Eddie Litzenberger, Bob Bourne and Fiona Smith-Bell while Graham Tuer and Stan Dunn are to be added to the builder’s category honour roll. Ken Wheler is this year’s selection for the official’s category while the 1983-84 Wilkie Outlaws and 2000-01 Lloydminster Border Kings join an impressive list in the team category. The North West Development Association is also being acknowledged in the grassroots category.
Litzenberger, who was born in Neudorf, Sask., will be acknowledged posthumously for his splendid junior career in Regina and his 12-year NHL career that saw him win four Stanley Cups – one with Chicago and three more with Toronto. A Calder Cup winner as the rookie of the year, Litzenberger finished his career with 183 goals and 252 assists in 658 games.
Bourne, who hails from Netherhill, Sask., parlayed a brilliant junior career with the Saskatoon Blades into a 14-year NHL run with the New York Islanders and Los Angeles Kings. While with the Islanders, Bourne was part of the dynasty that captured four straight Stanley Cups from 1980-83 and in 964 regular-season games he recorded 258 goals and 582 assists. Bourne was also a talented ball player and in the early 1970s had signed a professional contract with the Houston Astros, but his focus ultimately went to his hockey career.
Smith-Bell grew up in Edam, Sask., but played her minor hockey in the Battlefords with several boy’s teams as her participation in the sport was well before the development of women’s hockey that is present now. Smith-Bell was a member of the national women’s team from 1994-2002being a part of several championship teams and capped her career with a silver medal at the 1998 Winter Olympics. Still a mentor in the sport, Smith-Bell was a pioneer in a sport that has reached unprecedented heights.
Tuer, a product of North Battleford, has had a five-decade long involvement in hockey that saw him serve in many capacities including managing and scouting. He was also involved in helping create the Saskatchewan Development Model that provided education and development opportunities for players from across the province.
Dunn, who will also be honoured posthumously, was raised in Rosetown, but he made his mark in junior hockey in several centres including Weyburn, Swift Current and North Battleford. A co-founder of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League in 1968, Dunn was named the league’s coach of the year on several occasions in addition to winning a provincial title in 1974 with Swift Current.
Wheler started officiating in his hometown of the Battlefords when he was 14 years old and went work on to work in almost every league imaginable. After stints in the SJHL and Western Hockey League he turned pro for three years and while working in various minor pro circuits he even got called up to be a part of crews for seven NHL games. Wheler is now part of the NHL officiating management team and he speaks and instructs at numerous events every season.
Alberta had the Sutter brother dynasty in the 1970’s and ‘80s, but the Wilkie Outlaws had their own version with six Cey brothers playing on the same team when they captured their second straight provincial Senior B championship in 1983-84. Gerry, Lester, Jamie, Roger, Harold and Joe Cey helped the Outlaws claim the highly competitive Wild Goose Hockey League title that season and they won the provincial crown with a convincing win over Langenburg in the championship final.
The Lloydminster Border Kings were an oddity in that they never had a league to play in in 2000-01, but after a number of exhibition games they went on to win the provincial Senior AAA title and followed that up with an Allan Cup championship when the crushed the Petrolia Squires 7-2 in the final game.
The Northwest Development Association is a group of tireless volunteers that has been active since 1982 ensuring that hockey continues to be developed in the Battlefords’ region at a number of different levels.
All of these honoured guests will be part of a full day of activities on July 22 with a pancake breakfast kicking off the event at 7 a.m. A road hockey tournament will then take centre stage in the afternoon followed by the induction banquet in the evening.
TSN’s Darren Dreger will be the master of ceremonies for the banquet with tickets for the event being available by calling 306-445-7827. Additional information is also available by emailing the North Stars office at firstname.lastname@example.org.