Wow. This is no ordinary multiple choice test. In high school, there were four or five choices and sometimes I got lucky and picked the correct answer.
In this exam, or poll, as the B.C. Hockey League calls it to celebrate their 50th season, there really are no wrong answers.
How can one choose between Duncan Keith, Andrew Ladd, Kyle Turris and twins Connor and Kellen Jones in the 2000s? Toss in Tyler Bozak, Brandon Yip and Jamie Benn, and fans face some tough picks as they select the top players in league history.
After officials tally online fan voting, the top-50 list will be revealed at BCHL Celebration Weekend, Nov. 25-26, at each team’s arena.
Fans can vote for the players they believe are the top Three Stars from each decade of the league’s existence. There are 133 players listed in total and the rankings are weighted.
“Fans will be surprised at just how many names they’ll recognize from throughout our history,” said BCHL communications director and former Morning Star reporter Brent Mutis, who once pitched in the same UBC Thunderbird rotation as Jeff Francis.
“There are lots of players who had fantastic Junior A careers and others who went on to long NHL careers. A glance to our website of the Trophy Case section will reveal many of the names in the survey.”
I went with the Jones boys and Turris in the 2000s for the impact they had on Royal Bank Cup championship teams. They were all natural-born thrillers who earned their showers every night.
In the ‘90s, the poll should have shown some love to the ‘99 national king Vipers, who got 111 points from Lanny Gare in his second year with Vernon.
Also left off the list was Jason Elders, who racked up 67 regular-season goals and almost hit 100 for the year as the Vernon Lakers won the 1990-91 Canadian title.
Scotty Longstaff, one of the most dynamic players in Vernon history, compiled 160 points in the ‘91-92 season, winning the league points race by 28 over Paul Kariya of the Penticton Panthers. Kariya missed 20 games due to injury. Kariya is on the list. Longstaff isn’t.
Glen Metropolit, another Vernon gem who put on a show every night, is listed. I went with Bill Muckalt of the Merritt Centennials, Scott Gomez of the South Surrey Eagles and Kariya.
To the ‘80s, where Brett Hull had 105 snipes after a 48-goal rookie season in Penticton, and Cliff Ronning struck 83 times with the New Westminster Royals.
Ray Ferraro had one monster 132-point season in Penticton to win the league scoring crown. Joe Murphy and Ian Kidd were superstars with the 1984-85 Penticton Knights.
D-man Blair Campbell put up Donkey-Kong numbers in two years with the Vernon Lakers and he got one of my votes alongside Hull and Murphy.
Ignored on this list were Duane Dennis and Dave Oliver, who jumpstarted the Lakers to a league trophy one year and the rousing Centennial Cup victory at home the next.
As for the ‘70s, when Don Murdoch was pretty much a rock star with the Vernon Essos/Vikings, I went the homer route and took Murdoch, Ernie Gare Jr. of the Essos/Penticton Broncos and Ed Johnstone of the Essos.
Big names on the survey from that decade include Barry Pederson of the Nanaimo Clippers, Ryan Walter of the Langley Lords and Glenn Anderson of the Bellingham Blazers. Not listed is shifty John (Wire) Price, who shared the scoring title one year with his linemate and buddy Gare.
Going way back to the ‘60s, I used some deep-seeded childhood memories and selected the late, great Wayne Dye who was Vernon’s Athlete of the 20th Century.
I also chose rushing d-man Tom Serviss and slick centre Lawrence Quechuck of those same Essos. To cast your votes, visit the ‘BCHL History’ page under the ‘League’ tab.
Gordon dies in Penticton
Hal Gordon, a popular goalie with the 1956 Allan Cup champion Vernon Canadians, died two weeks ago in Penticton, at age 83, after suffering a stroke.
Vernon’s Odie Lowe has fond memories of his teammate. The two also played together in the Eastern Hockey League with the New York Rovers.
“Hal was a very good goaltender,” recalled Lowe, who scored one NHL goal in four games with the New York Rangers. “The one year, Hal got hurt and they brought in some young kid named Gump Worsley and poor Hal lost his job and ended up way down in the minors.”