SPORTS FLASHBACK 1974: Steinbacher Stoesz leads Steelers to 1974 Centennial Cup win
The Selkirk Steelers, with five Steinbach players in their lineup, became the second Manitoba team to capture the Centennial Cup, emblematic of national junior hockey supremacy.
The Steelers won the first two games in their final series with the Smith Falls Bears and built up a 3-1 lead in games before the Ontario team battled back with two straight wins, forcing a seventh game in Ottawa.
Brilliant goaltending by Andy Stoesz, aided by superb penalty killing by Ray Mutcheson, made the difference in the seventh game of the series, which took over 60 minutes to decide.
Neither team managed to score until, with just four minutes remaining in the first overtime period, Gord Kalusniak gave the western champs a one-goal edge. Steinbach’s Ken Neufeld earned an assist on the winning marker.
One minute later, Stoesz stopped a Smith Falls forward on a breakaway, and back-to-back penalties to the Ontario team left them two men short for the final two minutes of the overtime.
Steinbach players in the Steelers’ lineup, in addition to Stoesz and team captain Ken Neufeld, were back-up goaltender Chester Reimer, and forwards Randy Reimer and Ray Mutcheson.
The Centennial Cup series is the fourth Tier II of Junior “A” national championship competition for Canadian junior teams, pitting the Western Canadian against the Eastern Canadian champion.
On the way to the national title, the Selkirk Steelers finished first in the North Division of Manitoba Junior Hockey League with a 32-15-1 record. Their opponent in the first round of the playoffs was the defending Centennial Cup champion Portage Terriers. On the way to the 1973-74 national title, Selkirk played 25 playoff games, winning the Ollie Turnball Trophy as Manitoba champions, defeating Portage in seven games and the West Kildonan North Stars in five. The Steelers went on to defeat the Prince Albert Raiders in six games in the inter-provincial round with Saskatchewan before winning the Abbot Cup as western Canadian champs, with a seven-game series win over the Kelowna Buckaroos.
A banged up Selkirk Steelers team built up a three-games-to-one lead in the finals against the Smith Falls Bears, before the eastern champs fought back with a 6-3 win in Game Five and a 5-4 overtime victory in Game Six to force the seventh and deciding game for the Centennial Cup.