When the Manitoba Major Junior Hockey League handed out its silverware on May 15 at Canad Inns Polo Park, it was a special night for the Raiders Junior Hockey Club. The team that calls Billy Mosienko Arena home now possesses the Jack McKenzie Trophy, emblematic of the league playoff champion.
In the best of-seven final, the Raiders beat St. Boniface Riels four games to one. The Riels had finished the regular season in first place, eight points ahead of the Raiders. That earned them the Art Moug Trophy.
Seven Oak Raiders won their only MMJHL championship in 1979-80 and over the years had fallen on hard times. A group of former players led by Lorne (Ned) Sanders didn’t like what they saw, so, in the fall of 2009 they stepped up to buy the team.
They dropped Seven Oaks from the team’s name and, in the hope of immediately getting the team moving in the right direction, they convinced former MMJHL president Murray Allan to serve as an interim coach for that season.
The following off-season, they lured former Raider Andy Williamson to return to the North End as head coach. That was the real coup, as Williamson had been coaching the defending champion Charleswood Hawks, a team that had won seven of the previous nine league titles.
Players from the area who weren’t interested in playing for the Raiders soon realized that something positive was happening and saw the team as an option.
At the awards dinner, Jordan Lisowick of the Raiders received the Chris Flintoft Memorial Trophy as playoff MVP. A defenceman, he was the playoff scoring leader with 16 points. He shared the George Cadzow Trophy as the league’s top defenceman with the Riels’ Sean Christensen. Riel Brendan Fiebelkorn was named the outstanding goaltender and forward Mike Lazo was recognized as the league’s hardest-working player. Colin Grenier from the Pembina Valley Twisters was rookie-of-the-year.
The rest of the awards went to the Riels. Brett Charette, who was the regular season scoring champion, was honoured with the Myron Prymak Memorial Trophy as the league’s MVP. Russell Trudeau received the Ken Prodonick Memorial Trophy for combining ability and sportsmanship. Ryan Frykas was named coach of the year.
"We only lose four players next season," Raiders assistant coach Gerard McDonald said.
Could the Raiders be the next MMJHL dynasty?
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Manitoba lost one of its greatest all-around athletes on May 13 when Fred Dunsmore died at age 85.
In his teens, Dunsmore was a familiar name in the sports pages for his exploits as a quarterback with Daniel Mac High School and the junior Weston Wildcats, as a pitcher and third baseman with the Rosedale juniors, and as a speedy, puck-carrying forward with Brandon Elks and Winnipeg Canadians.
He later played senior baseball with the St. Boniface Native Sons and captained the Winnipeg Maroons in senior hockey. In 1970. during Manitoba’s Centennial celebrations, Dunsmore was one of five finalists for Sportsman of the Century, along with Dan Bain, Gerry James, Art Shaw and the eventual winner, Cec Browne. He was an honoured member of the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame and of the provincial baseball and hockey shrines.
Memories of Sport appears every second week in the Canstar Community News weeklies. Kent Morgan can be contacted at 204-489-6641 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org