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Southern thrilled to join father in Hockey Hall

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There aren’t many things Bruce Southern hasn’t done in his 45 years in hockey, and now he can cross another accomplishment off his list: he’s a hall of famer.

The St. Vital resident, who is currently a pro scout for the Winnipeg Jets, will join his father, Sam Southern, in the Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame on Sat., Oct. 5.

"It was pretty exciting to hear I was going in," Southern said via phone from Hartford, where he was on assignment. "Being the second member of the family, the hall is special."

Just like his father, a longtime minor hockey coach whose name adorns a Fort Rouge arena, Southern will be inducted as a builder.

Southern has spent his entire life in hockey, first as a player and then as a coach and scout. He progressed from minor hockey to the junior ranks, coaching the Fort Garry Blues to three championships and also leading the St. James Canadians and St. Boniface Saints.

Some of his favourite hockey memories come from his time coaching the Winnipeg Warriors of the WHL.

"To grow up in Winnipeg and coach the hometown team was great," he said. "Those four years were the most fun I had in coaching until the last year, when the team left for Moose Jaw (in 1984)."

When the Warriors left town, Southern stayed behind to work for John Ferguson, the general manager of the Winnipeg Jets.

"He was tremendous to me," Southern said. "He told me he was watching what was going on with the Warriors and gave me a chance to work with the Jets."

Southern analyzed video tape for the team — something that wasn’t widely done at the time — and did some scouting work.

He went on to work as a scout for Ottawa, San Jose and Minnesota before his old friend, Craig Heisinger, brought him into the True North fold with the Manitoba Moose.

"To have Zinger give me a second chance 15 years later was quite a ride," he said. "It’s been really exciting (to be part of the reincarnated Jets). I can’t believe the impact it’s had. It’s more than I could fathom."

And as much as he still loves hitting the road to gather intelligence for the city’s hockey club, Southern is equally excited about coaching the 12-year-old Manitoba Lightning team this summer.

"I like doing it," he said. "At first I thought that it was too young, but it’s been great."

Also entering the Hall this year in the builders category are Don MacKenzie, Tom Miller, Al Tresoor, Ian Heather and the late Wayne Chernecki and Wayne Fleming.

The players being inducted are Mike Ford, Bill Mikkelson, Gerry James, Vaughn Karpan, Bill Watson and the late Ed Hoekstra.

Bob Thompson will enter as an official, while the 2003 Ile des Chenes North Stars, 1951 Winnipeg Monarchs and 1972-73 St. Malo Warriors will be inducted in the team category.

Information on the induction banquet can be found at www.mbhockeyhalloffame.ca.

avi.saper@canstarnews.com

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