Sunday , 24 January 2021

St. Paul Canadiens to honour former players, Pat O’Neill this weekend at alumni gala

The St. Paul Canadiens Junior B team is celebrating their history and alumni on Saturday.

The Canadiens are hosting their first-ever alumni gala following the matinee against the Lloydminster Bandits at 2:00pm.

The event includes cocktails, a catered meal, music and live and silent auctions.

Its meant to become a yearly fundraiser and celebration of one of Alberta’s longest running Junior B hockey teams, said Canadiens president Rick Austin.

Between 80-100 former Canadiens are planning on coming from as far as Vancouver, the United States, Calgary, and Edmonton to make the event on Saturday.

“I think this is kind of something you want to keep on growing every year. You want to have some kind of an alumni event, so it’s kind of a fundraiser for the team at the same time. We want to put on a good show this year,” said Austin.

Before Saturday’s game, Pat O’Neill, a longtime supporter of St. Paul hockey, including as a player, coach, board member, and president will have his name lifted to the rafters at the Clancy Richard Arena.

“Pat was always there. Doesn’t matter when I played, or when I came back 10 years later and went to a game, Pat was always there. He’s one of those guys that was integral in the last 65 years right. He’s one of many guys,” said Austin.

A couple of truckloads of Canadiens memorabilia will be at the arena for patrons to pour over at the game and event.

Pierre DeMoissac, a former Canadiens player from decades ago, has a collection that dates back to the early 1950s.

He has complete rosters from all Canadiens’ teams but two, all collected in a book he’s written which chronicles the team’s history.

Amongst the pictures, programs, release papers, sticks, at the gala will be a 1954-55 sweater from the St. Paul Chevrolets just a couple years after the franchise began under that name.

“Over the years, I’ve collected all the programs and I have some of the pictures. I was very heavily involved when we did the 50 years of hockey in general in St. Paul,” said Demoissac.

Despite the long-standing history and pride from former players, the Canadiens have not won a Junior B league title in 47 years after winning three consecutive league titles from 1969-1972.

“The 1969-70 [season] was the last year of Juvenile and they had won the league and provincials then. Richard then moved the team into the Junior B category and they won the league and the provincials. Five of those players went on to play with the Regina Pats and so it was a pretty unique group there,” said Demoissac.

The Canadiens board is hoping that by bringing back alumni it will grow the number of local players who fill out the team, as more outside players are recruited to the team.

Tickets for the event are $400 for a table of eight or $60 for individual tickets.

You can contact Pierre DeMoissac at 780-210-7441 for tickets.

Pierre DeMoissac’s collection

About Michael Menzies

Menzies is the editor-at-large for Connected Media Inc. Born and raised in Vermilion, he started in May 2018 during his NAIT Radio and Television practicum and reports on local politics, sports, and community issues. He became the Bonnyville Pontiacs play-by-play voice during the 2019-20 season. He also comments on provincial and national issues. Menzies hosts Connected! Evening Monday-Thursday at 5 o’clock. He also likes to buy books and read some of them.