A trio of brothers – two of whom live on the Semiahmoo Peninsula – are set to be enshrined, along with their old teammates, in the BC Hockey Hall of Fame.
South Surrey residents Jeff and Joe Barszczewski as well as their younger brother, Jami, who lives in Powell River, were members of the 1996/97 Powell River Regals which won that season’s Allan Cup, awarded each year to the top senior men’s team in the country.
At a press event last week at Vancouver’s Rogers Arena, the Regals were one of seven honourees announced for induction into the provincial hall of fame.
“It’s pretty exciting – it totally came out of the blue, and wasn’t something I was expecting at all,” Jeff, who at 47 years old is the middle brother, told Peace Arch News Tuesday.
The Allan Cup is the oldest amateur hockey trophy still being competed for, having been introduced in 1909 – shortly after the Stanley Cup, which became its professional-league equivalent.
The Barszczewskis grew up in Powell River and played minor hockey there, as did 17 of the Regals’ 25 players on the 1997 championship team – something Jeff noted is pretty rare for senior men’s hockey, which often sees teams recruit from other nearby areas.
The Regals also won the Allan Cup in 2000, with a roster than included “about 14” local players, he added.
“That first year, I think it was pretty unique because of how many Powell River guys we had on that team, just from this one small town,” Jeff explained.
“A lot of people would go away to play junior hockey, or work or go to school, but they’d come back and play for the Regals.”
Jeff and Joe, now 48, both left town to play junior ‘B’ hockey with the Vancouver-based Grandview Steelers, while Jami – whose junior-hockey aspirations were dashed after a car accident – stayed in town and played the longest with the Regals, beginning in his late teens.
Jeff – who played eight seasons with the Regals – said last week’s hall-of-fame announcement brought back a lot of old memories of not just the games themselves, but also the town and his teammates.
“The town really supported the team. It was such a good time, so much fun and you never thought it was going to end,” he said.
“Playing so long with those guys, travelling with them, it’s a lot of good memories.
“It’s kind of overwhelming, the response (since the announcement). I’m getting texts and emails from everybody – guys I haven’t talked to in a long time.”
The 1997 Allan Cup was a round-robin format – other teams included the Stony Plains Eagles, Truro Bearcats and the Minnesota-based Warroad Lakers. Powell River hosted the tournament, making the win an even better memory.
In the final, the Regals defeated the Lakers – winners of the past three Allan Cups – 7-3.
“They’d been trouncing everybody for years before we finally knocked them off,” said Jeff, who stays involved in hockey now as a coach with his son’s Semiahmoo peewee team, and also helping out with his daughter’s Surrey Falcons bantam squad.
The Powell River Regals have a rich history in senior men’s hockey that includes four national championships and numerous provincial titles dating back to the 1950s.
The 2000 championship team was awfully talented, too, Jeff noted. It included the three Barszczewskis, Surrey resident Bill MacGilvray – a prolific scorer in junior hockey in the late 1980s and early 90s – as well as former NHLers Doug Bodger and Ken Priestlay, among others.
As a result of winning that year’s Allan Cup, the Regals earned the chance to represent Canada at the international Nagano Cup, in Japan.
Other BC Hall of Fame nominees this year include former Vancouver Canucks general manager Dave Nonis, Vancouver Giants team owner Ron Toigo, retired NHL linesman Brad Lazarowich, broadcaster John Shannon and former Canuck players Thomas Gradin and Tony Tanti.
An induction ceremony and gala is planned for July 28 in Penticton.
“For a team from Powell River, a small community, it’s pretty cool,” Jeff said.