The Regina Pats have a storied history, with many great players. Trying to come up with an all-time lineup was difficult. Well known players, like Laudas “Duke” Dukowski, Bill Hickie, Dennis Sobchuk, Clark Gillies, Mike Sillinger, Jordan Eberle, Jordan Weal, even Adam Brooks, and Sam Steel had to be left off.
There were so many talented forwards who had excellent seasons and careers. The three players that I picked each have their names at or near the top of Pats records. Doug Wickenheiser and Fran Huck have the two best goal-scoring seasons. Dale Derkatch has the second most total points in a season.
Fran Huck, a Regina native, was one of the first superstars of the Pats. After seeing action in 28 games in 1962-63, scoring 4 goals, Fran was a star in 1963-64 as he scored 86 goals and added 67 assists in 62 games as a 17-year-old. He was named to the first team all-star team and collected the league MVP award. In the SJHL-MJHL all-star game, he scored once in a 5-2 win for the SJHL.
In the playoffs, Huck scored 22 goals and 18 assists as the Pats lost in the league final to Estevan. Estevan was able to pick up Fran for the Abbot Cup (Western Canada Memorial Cup Playoffs). Estevan lost the final to the Edmonton Oil Kings, who was a very dominant team in those years. Edmonton then picked up Fran to join them in Toronto for the Memorial Cup against the Toronto Marlboros. Even with Edmonton’s success, they were no match for the powerhouse Marlboros, who won the series 4-0.
Fran had another great season in 1964-65 with 77 goals and 59 assists. He was named the league MVP yet again. The Pats won the league title that year, with Fran scoring 10 goals and 13 assists in the title run. They advanced to the Abbot Cup, where they lost to the Edmonton Oil Kings in the semi-final. Fran joined the Oil Kings again for their run at the Memorial Cup, but Edmonton lost 4 games to 1 to the Niagara Falls Flyers.
Fran made a surprising decision not to return to the Pats for his final season. Instead, he decided to go to Winnipeg to join the Canadian National hockey team. It was very rare for a junior player to join the team — most guys joined after playing college. The Montreal Canadiens, with whom the Pats were affiliated, offered Huck $10,000 to stay with the Pats. That was serious money in the day as his dad was only making a few thousand dollars per year. His decision had already been made to join Father David Bauer and play for his country. The NCAA was a strong pull as well, and after the 1963 season, he was recruited to join Denver University.
In 1979-80, captain Doug Wickenheiser scored 89 goals, which is good for sixth-best in WHL history. His 89 goals were 23 more than the next best that season. Thirteen of those were the first goal of the game, which is second-best in WHL history. He also chipped in 81 assists that season. His 170 points topped the league and helped the Pats finish as the top-scoring team in the league. In the playoffs, he again led the team in scoring with 14 goals and 26 assists in 18 games while winning the WHL Championship. The Pats finished third at the infamous 1980 Memorial Cup, where Doug scored one goal and four assists in four games played.
Wickenheiser was named to the WHL first-team all-star team and collected WHL and CHL player of the year awards. He was drafted first overall by the Montreal Canadians in 1980. He is currently one of only two Pats players to be drafted first overall.
Doug played three seasons for the Pats, where he scored 158 goals and 194 assists for 352 total points in 207 games, which is good for eighth in franchise history. He was named number 30 of the top 50 WHL players in 2016 in a countdown commemorating the WHL’s 50th season. Doug’s No. 12 has been retired by the Pats.
In 2001 the WHL named the Humanitarian of the Year Trophy after Wickenheiser to honour him for his contributions both on and off the ice. On March 13th, 1999 The Pats retired Doug’s Number 12, which was two months and one day after he passed away at the age of 37 due to cancer. The banner is adorned with a candle, which signified his nickname “Wick”. A similar candle logo is used by the Blues 14 Fund, A St Louis Blues charity created in 1998 to honor Doug. He also has a hockey rink in Regina named after him.
Dale Derkatch played in the wrong era, but that didn’t stop him from thriving in the league. He didn’t think the WHL was even an option at his size and with the style of play being so rough. Derkatch had been listed by Saskatoon on his birthday, as there was no draft back then. After Saskatoon dropped him, he was picked up by Portland, before his rights were traded to Regina. None of the teams had contacted him, so he was planning to go to Prince Albert to play with the powerhouse Raiders in junior A, and then move on to North Dakota to get a college education while he played hockey.
Despite Dale being only 5-foot-4 or 5-foot-5 and 125 pounds, Bob Strumm had seen him play at Notre Dame and convinced him to join the Pats just a couple weeks before the season started. Bob offered Dale a university package if he didn’t sign a pro contract.
In 1981-82 Dale burst onto the scene and was named the WHL rookie of the year, after scoring 62 goals and 80 assists in 71 games. That is three points back of the WHL rookie scoring record and the 12th best season in Pats’ history. The Pats lost the WHL final to the Portland Winterhawks. Dale scored 11 goals and 23 assists in that run. On March 26, 1982, Dale set a WHL playoff record collecting 7 assists in a game versus Brandon in the first round, which the Pats won 13-6.
Dale’s best season was in 1982-83 when he led the league with 179 points. His 84 goals were also a league-best. The 179 points are good for second-best in Pats’ history. He scored 13 first goals of the game, tied with Doug Wickenheiser for second best in WHL history. Dale assisted on 17 game-winning goals which is a WHL best. Dale’s 15-game goal-scoring streak is the third-best in WHL history, he amassed 30 goals in that streak. The Pats made a quick exit in the playoffs that year, in 5 games he scored 5 goals and 4 assists. Dale was named to the WHL’s first-team all-star team. He also collected a bronze medal at the 1983 IIHF World Junior Championship. That spring Dale was drafted in the seventh round by Edmonton, despite his offensive talent, he never played a game in the NHL.
The 1983-84 campaign was another great one for Dale. He scored 72 goals and 87 assists, but in the playoff run to the final, in which they lost again to the Kamloops Junior Oilers, he set a league record 41 assists and 53 points. He only had 12 goals in the 23 games. Dale also made the World Junior team that year, but they finished 4th.
In 1984, he played in Italy, had a great season, and won the league championship. Then, Bob Strumm convinced him to come back and finish what was left of the Pats’ season. Hoping for a long playoff run, their season ended at the hands of the Medicine Hat Tigers in the second round.
Dale holds the WHL playoff records for most assists (73) and points (103) in a career. Dale is the only player in WHL history to have three consecutive 60 goal seasons. His career totals of 222 goals, 269 assists, and 491 points are all Pats records. He ranks fifth in goals and seventh in points in the WHL. Dale came back to coach the team for one season in 2008.
Dale was listed at #19 on the WHL’s top 50. In 1999 the Pats retired his No 16. In a unique situation, the No. 16 has been subsequently retired again, in 2011, as Mike Sillinger had worn it just a few years after Dale from 1987 to 1991.
On the back end, the Pats again have a plethora of excellent players, but not too many played an offensive game. They sent many to the NHL that played a solid and rugged style of defence. Bob Turner, Garth Butcher, Jason Smith, Derek Morris, Brad Stuart, Barret Jackman, and Connor Hobbs were excellent for the Pats. I picked two that added a bit more to the scoreboard.
Greg Joly was part of the 1974 Memorial Cup-winning team. That season, he scored 21 goals and 71 assists in 67 games. In the playoffs, he added seven goals and 13 assists. At the Memorial Cup, Joly tacked on two goals and three assists in the five games and was named the Memorial Cup MVP. He was also named to the WHL’s first-team all-star team.
In 1974 Greg was selected first overall by the Washington Capitals in the NHL draft and by the Phoenix Roadrunners in the WHA secret amateur draft. He was the first Pats player ever to be selected first overall. Joly also had an excellent season in 1972-73 with 68 points, 14 goals and 54 assists, and was named to the WHL’s first-team all-star team. Greg’s rookie season was excellent as well with 6 goals and 38 assists in 67 games.
John Miner held the defenceman goal scoring record with 30 goals until just recently when Connor Hobbs surpassed him with 31 in the 2016-17 season.
1983-84 was an excellent campaign for John with 27 goals and 42 assists in the regular season. John set a WHL playoff record with 34 points that spring on nine goals, and 34 assists, as the Pats fell to the Kamloops Junior Oilers in the WHL Championship.
In 1984-85, Miner was named to the WHL East all-star team after a great 30 goal, 54 assist season, adding four goals and 10 assists in 8 playoff games. John won a gold medal with the junior national team, collecting two assists in the tournament.
Miner’s first season in 1981-82 saw him get into only 10 games, but that was just a warmup for 1982-83, where he scored 11 goals and 23 assists in 71 games as a 17-year-old.
John didn’t shy away from the rough stuff, as he amassed over 120 PIMs in each of his three full seasons.
In net, there was only one real choice — Ed Staniowski. He is the only goalie to have his number retired by the Pats. Staniowski won the first Canadian Major Junior Player of the Year award, now known as the CHL Player of the Year, and currently is the only goalie to take home the honor.
In 1971, at 16 years of age, Ed was the backup and saw limited action. He appeared in 15 games, putting up a 3.16 GAA. Starting in the 1972 season, Ed became a workhorse for the team, making at least 62 appearances in the next three seasons.
In the 1972-73 season, Ed recorded a 3.75 GAA in 64 games. The team was younger, winning only 30, and were swept in the first round of the playoffs, but all the key pieces of the team were returning for the next season.
That next season was Ed’s best. He went 39-12 with a 3.05 GAA and a .900 save percentage, as the team topped the league, not only in points but in goals for and goals against. They lost only four games in three playoff series en route to the WHL Championship. Ed was stellar again, with an even lower 2.92 GAA in the championship run. The Pats captured their last Memorial cup that season in Calgary, with a win over the extremely offensive Quebec Remparts in the final.
The 1974-75 season was a down year as they had significant losses from the Memorial Cup-winning team. They finished third in the East and lost in the second round of the playoffs. Ed had decent numbers that season with a 3.95 GAA and a .886 save percentage. Despite that, he was given the inaugural CHL Most Outstanding Player Award.
Ed also participated in the World Junior Championship during that season. It was the second time the event had been played and was officially an unofficial IIHF event that year. Canada was represented by players only from the Western Canadian Hockey League, as they went on to win the silver medal. Ed was named the tournament’s best goaltender.
Ed’s No. 1 was hung in the rafters of the Regina Agridome on February 18th, 2000, along with Memorial Cup-winning teammate Clark Gillies’ number.
We have to go back to the 1920s to find the most successful coach in Pats’ history. The team was dominant back then and Al Ritchie’s record was 43-4 in regular-season play. In 77 playoff games, the team was 55-13-9. Ritchie coached the team from 1923 to 1934, except for the 1927-28 season, and he might have coached them longer, but the team folded after the 1933-34 season. During his tenure, the team reached three Memorial Cups, winning one in 1930 — the third in team history.
Al may be known more for his football endeavours than hockey. He started the Regina Pats Junior Football Club, which won eight Western Championships and one Junior Dominion Championship in 1928. That was the first time a western team had won the national championship. Al is the only person to win a national championship in junior hockey and football.
Ritchie then moved on to coach the Saskatchewan Roughriders, leading them to four Grey Cups, but he was unsuccessful in winning one.
Regina has a hockey rink and area of town named after Al.
The Pats had won the Memorial Cup in 1974, and had a decent season in 1974-75, but struggled after that. Bob Strumm, hired in 1979 from the Billings Bighorns, was key in turning around not only the on-ice product but improving the team off the ice as well. He returned the banners to the rafters, as they had been taken down and stored away. He added red to the uniforms, which had not been there before. It was an homage to the Montreal Canadiens, he also used their slogan that was in their dressing room.
His next tasks were to improve the on-ice product and to hire a head coach. Bob was all-in on Terry Simpson of the SJHL’s Prince Albert Raiders, who had just won the Centennial Cup. Terry declined, and Bob didn’t have a plan B, so he had some work to do. He eventually came in contact with Bryan Murray, and they hit it off immediately.
There was a good core of players returning from the previous season. Mike Blaisdell started the season at the University of Wisconsin, but it wasn’t working out so he decided to join the Pats. Jock Callander, who was dropped by the Saskatoon Blades, joined mid-way through the season. There was too much talent — so much so that Al MacInnis was sent down to the SJHL’s Regina Pat Blues. The next season Al moved on to the Kitchener Rangers of the OHL.
The power play was lethal, to the tune of 33.6%. All five guys on the power play unit surpassed the 100-point plateau on the season. The team put up a league-best 429 goals, leading them to first place in the Eastern Conference. The Pats won the league championship in five games over the Victoria Cougars. It was quite the turnaround from the 18-win season just prior. The Pats advanced to the Memorial Cup, which they co-hosted with Brandon, and ended up in last place in the three-team tournament. The tournament structure was changed after the aforementioned infamous 1980 Memorial Cup.
There were losses of talent and the coach, but Strumm brought in Jack Sangster, and the returning players stepped up. The Pats again finished in first place in the East but lost in the semi-final to the Calgary Wranglers.
The 1981-82 season was another one with a new coach — Bill LaForge this time — but Bob Strumm’s biggest success was convincing Dale Derkatch to join the team. The team was back at the top, scoring a league-high 465 goals, while also setting a league record with 3412 penalty minutes. They finished second in the East and rolled through the first two rounds of the playoffs until needing seven games to beat the first-place Lethbridge Broncos. The Pats fell to the Portland Winterhawks in the final, after earning a reputation of being a rough team, which included many brawls during pregame warmups.
Strumm once again brought in a new coach for the 1982-83 season. It may have been due to the image the team had gained in the previous campaign. Don Boyd was the guy this time, but he didn’t last. Boyd resigned in February, and Bob took over behind the bench until he left the organization in 1985. 1982-83 was another excellent regular season — 48 wins and a second-place finish. The Pats lost to the third-place Wranglers in the second round.
The Pats continued to roll in the 1983-84 season, back atop the east this time. They made it to the WHL Final, only to fall to the Kamloops Junior Oilers. The Pats were 12 seconds away from winning the league title in game 6, but Kamloops was able to tie it up and win in overtime. Kamloops went on to win game 7 at home.
The 1984-85 season was a bit of a down year, with only 43 wins, a third-place finish in the east, and a second-round playoff exit.
That concluded Bob Strumm’s tenure in Regina, which was arguably the best run for a GM in Pats’ history. Despite the ever-changing roster of a junior hockey team and the turnstile behind the bench, they had at least 47 wins in 5 straight seasons, three appearances in the final, and one championship. Bob contributed to 6 of the 7 straight seasons with 40 or more wins, which is a WHL record (1979-1986).
Feel free to come up with your own all-time lineup with a comment below this article or on Twitter. The Pats have a rich history, so no answer is wrong. I look forward to your responses!