Two Western Hockey League Alumni and two Memorial Cup Championship Teams will be honoured by Hockey Alberta later this year.
Long-time Medicine Hat Tigers play-by-play voice and bus driver Bob Ridley as well as former Moose Jaw Warrior Theoren Fleury were announced to the Class of 2019 for the Alberta Hockey Hall of Fame late last week. Also set to be inducted are the 1986-87 and 1987-88 Medicine Hat Tigers, who won back-to-back WHL Championships and Memorial Cups.
Ridley is a legend among WHL broadcasting circles and has become synonymous with junior hockey in Medicine Hat as well as the WHL. Calling the Tigers’ first game in 1970, Ridley remains in the broadcast booth to this very day, having just missed a single game. A member of CHAT 94.5 FM radio for more than 50 years, Ridley was named a recipient of the WHL Distinguished Service Award during the 2006-07 WHL Regular Season.
Two of the teams Bob called games for are also getting their moment in the spotlight. The 1986-87 and 1987-88 Medicine Hat Tigers were an unstoppable forced, winning back-to-back WHL Championships and Memorial Cups.
In 1986-87, the Tigers captured top spot in the Eastern Division with a 48-19-5 record. They’d go on to defeat the Moose Jaw Warriors, Saskatoon Blades, and Portland Winterhawks in the 1987 WHL Playoffs to capture the second WHL Championship in franchise history. Mark Pederson led the Tigers during the playoffs with 26 points (19G-7A) in 20 games, Dean Chynoweth patrolled the blue line, and hometown product Trevor Linden contributed to the team’s success in his rookie season. After getting his team to the WHL Championship a year earlier, goaltender Mark Fitzpatrick helped put them over the top in 1987.
The Tigers would repeat the feat the next season. Posting a 44-22-6 record in the regular season, the Tigers would defeat the Prince Albert Raiders, Blades, and Kamloops Blazers to hoist the WHL Championship trophy for a second-straight year. To this day, their feat of back-to-back WHL Championships and back-to-back Memorial Cups have yet to be met by any other WHL team in the province of Alberta.
After recording 36 points (14G-22A) in his rookie season, Linden would record 110 points (46G-64A) in 67 games as a 17-year-old. Turning 18 in April of 1988, Linden would be made the second-overall selection at the 1988 National Hockey League Draft that summer, making the jump to the professional ranks in the fall. Rob Dimaio would tie Mark Recchi for the WHL Playoffs scoring lead that year, racking up 31 points (12G-19A) in three fewer games than Recchi.
Joining Ridley and the two Tiger teams is Fleury. From 1984 to 1988, Fleury played with the Moose Jaw Warriors, recording 472 points (201G-271A) in 274 games. He tied for the WHL scoring lead in 1987-88 with 160 points (68G-92A) in 65 games, tying Swift Current Broncos forward Joe Sakic.
Fleury’s scoring skills would translate to the NHL as he recorded 1,088 points (455G-633A) in 1,084 games. Fleury won a Stanley Cup with the Calgary Flames in 1989 and would play a role in Canada’s gold-medal performance at the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Games. He also played for the Colorado Avalanche, New York Rangers, and Chicago Blackhawks during his NHL career.
Also announced as part of the Class of 2019 were Duncan MacDougall, Shirley Cameron, and Kevin Lowe. The induction ceremony will take place Sunday, July 21 at the Coast Hotel in Canmore. For ticket information, click here.