Manitoba’s best Ukrainian athletes


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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 23/03/2022 (439 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Ukrainian athletes, builders and volunteers have made a major impact on the Manitoba sports scene for many decades. If you have played a sport in our province, you′ve had many teammates and opponents with Ukrainian roots. The surname of the centre on my first line in peewee hockey in The Pas was Melnick.

In previous columns, Memories of Sport has covered the history of the Canadian Ukrainian Athletic Club (CUAC) in Winnipeg’s North End, which produced outstanding teams in baseball and hockey and the CUAC Blues women’s softball team that dominated in the mid-1950s and 1960s. For more than 50 years, the St. Nicholas Men’s Club held a spring dinner at the St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church where the Ukrainian Sportsman of the Year was honoured. Now seems to be the right time to remember some of the best of Manitoba’s Ukrainian athletes.

When the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame inducted its first class in 1980, hockey star Bill Mosienko was one of the nine individuals honoured. Terry Sawchuk, who was named Manitoba Professional Athlete of the Century in the year 2000, was inducted in 1982. In reviewing the list of athletes and builders honoured by the HOF in its 40-plus years, you find several dozen with Ukrainian heritage. They came from the sports of baseball, basketball, bowling, curling, football, golf, hockey, softball, track, volleyball, and weightlifting.

Billy Mosienko still holds the record for the fastest hat-trick scored by an NHL player.

The St. Nicholas Men’s Club recognized a number of Sports HOF inductees as its Sportsman of the Year. Hockey player and golfer Nick Mickoski was the first in 1967. Bill Juzda, Dale Hawerchuk, James Patrick and Mosienko were other hockey players selected. Among the other individual HOF inductees are baseball’s Joe Wiwchar, Ken Galanchuk, Fred Ingaldson and Vic Pruden from basketball, curler Kerry Burtnyk, football players Steve Patrick and Cornell Piper, golfers Glen Hnatiuk and Ted Homeniuk, volleyball’s Mike Burchuk and Dale Iwanoczko, and all-around builder Buck Matiowski. Team members include Orest Meleschuk, the skip of the 1972 world champion men’s curling team, and John Shaley, who led the CUAC Blues to the first Canadian women’s softball championship in 1965.

A book with the great title Ukrainian Canadians, Eh? includes a section on players. Author Michael Czuboka suggests that Brandon-born goalie Turk Broda, a 1983 Sports HOF inductee, was probably the first player of Ukrainian origin to enter the NHL when he joined the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1936-37. Not so, as Selkirk’s Nick Wasnie made the Chicago Black Hawks in the 1927-28 season and Winnipegger Alex Shibicky joined the New York Rangers in 1935-36. In addition to those already mentioned, The Eh! book names NHLers Bill Derlago, Bill Ezinicki, Pete Langelle, Eddie Mazur, Eric Nesterenko, Steve Patrick Jr., Dave Semenko, and Fred Shero.

Softball is the best place to look for female athletes with Ukrainian connections. Shero’s sister Doris played in the All American Girls Professional Baseball League and so did Mary (Shastal) Kustra and Evelyn (Wawryshyn) Moroz, a multi-sport athlete and 1992 Sports HOF member, who died in February at age 97. The Manitoba Softball HOF honoured members include Elva (Waslyk) Barkwell, Minnie (Peiluck) Trybell, Mary (Goshulak) Hayes, Irene Lesczcynski, and Bev Sawchuk. Laurie Bradawaski played for Canadian championship teams in both softball and curling.

The legacy of sporting Manitobans of Ukrainian descent will continue to be recognized in a future In a future Memories of Sport column.

T. Kent Morgan

T. Kent Morgan
Memories of Sport

Memories of Sport appears every second week in the Canstar Community News weeklies. Kent Morgan can be contacted at 204-489-6641 or email:

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