Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 20/4/2011 (3842 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
As strange as it sounds, the biggest highlight of Karl Friesen’s hockey career came on a night when he had to turn around and fish the puck out of his net seven times.
The goalie who grew up in North Kildonan was playing for West Germany in the 1984 Canada Cup against a superstar-laden Canadian squad at the Montreal Forum.
Wayne Gretzky (the NHL’s all-time leading goal scorer) had a hat trick, while Mike Gartner (No. 6 all time) and Mike Bossy (No. 20 all time) each added a pair of goals.
Despite the 7-2 loss, Friesen was named player of the game for the West Germans.
"It was just a great experience," said Friesen, who was announced last week as one of this year’s inductees into the Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame.
Because of his German ancestry, which allowed to him to obtain dual-citizenship and not count as an import, Friesen was an attractive prospect for Sportbund Rosenheim of the German elite league in 1980.
A month after getting married, the former West Kildonan North Star was on the other side of the Atlantic not knowing how long his career as a professional goaltender would last.
"I didn’t know if I was good enough," recalled Friesen, 52, who now lives in St. Vital. "The team took a chance that I knew how to play, and I was the starter from the first day."
Friesen played so well in his first season in Germany that he was named to the country’s national team for the 1981 World Championships and became a staple in the league and international play.
He was named player of the year and goalie of the year four times, and led his team to four league championships. The first title, in 1981-82, still stands out for Friesen because of the way the team made a surprise run.
"We ended up fifth in the league and won the championship," he said. "It was a pretty good run. The team we beat (in the final) was 22 points ahead of us in a 36-game schedule."
After capturing a second championship in 1985, Friesen signed with the New Jersey Devils. He played a handful of games with the NHL team, but spent most of the year with the Maine Mariners of the AHL. Midway through the 1986-87 season he was released and returned to Germany.
"It was home to me," he said. "It was a lifestyle where you weren’t on the road all the time. I’m glad I took the chance to play there."
Bruno Zarrillo, a Winnipegger who played pro hockey throughout Europe, said people would always ask if he knew Friesen.
"His reputation was second to none in Europe," Zarrillo said. "Without a doubt, his level of play and the kind of person he was really opened the door (in Europe) to a lot of Manitobans."
By the time his 16-year career was finished, Friesen had won two more German championships and had played in six World Championships and three Winter Olympics.
He’s already a member of the German Hockey Hall of Fame, and said he was "honoured and surprised" to hear he would be entering the Manitoba hall.
"When your career takes place outside North America you’re always surprised when you get recognition in your hometown," he said.
The other players being inducted at an Oct. 1 dinner will be Mike Keane, Theoren Fleury, Terry Ball, George Konik, Jason More and Neil Wilkinson. Bob Cornell, Don Dietrich, Ted Foreman and Glen Lawson are being inducted as builders, while Laura Loeppky and Bud Ulrich are entering as officials, and Bob Picken and Curt Keilback are entering in the media category.
The 1955-56 Winnipeg Warriors, the 1974 Warroad Lakers, the 1994-96 Warroad Lakers and the 1983 North End Flyers will be inducted in the team category.