Congratulations to the Regina Pats who nailed down top spot in the Western Hockey League last night with a win over Saskatoon. That guarantees home ice advantage through the playoffs and guarantees loyal fans more trips to the Brandt Center through the early part of spring. One more win will set an all time franchise record for wins, and they still have three games to do it! I like those odds.
I still remember the excitement when the Swift Current Broncos moved to Lethbridge in the mid 70’s. Before that, the biggest hockey ticket in town was the Lethbridge Sugar Kings, which turned out future NHL’ers Lanny McDonald and John Davidson, just to mention a couple.
When the Broncos arrived in Lethbridge I became good friends with Fred Abel, whose dad Dick, was the long time trainer who moved with the team to Lethbridge. That meant I now had access to the Broncos locker room!
Fred and I would hang out in the dressing room with the players and cheer them on in the tunnel when it was time to hit the ice. Back then, the Broncos had stickers, so we always had a mitt full of those to hand out to our buddies at school. I was always amazed at how big these guys were. We saw our share of superstars on the rise, with the likes of Bryan Trottier and the Sutter brothers all rolling through the “Windy City.”
Those times are long gone, but the memories remain.
My good friend Fred died as the result of a drunk driver while he was patrolling some side road outside of Lethbridge as a member of the RCMP. It was a head on collision. He didn’t stand a chance. Dick passed away in a Lethbridge hospital in 1999.
Whenever I think of the Pats I always remember Fred and Dick and my fun days hanging out in the Broncos dressing room. R.I.P.
Go Pats go!