Local legends retired to rafters
The names of Pierre Dechaine, Guy deMoissac and Wilf Martin were hoisted to the rafters at Clancy Richard Arena on Saturday to kick off Xtreme Hockey Night in St. Paul.
“It is absolutely wonderful to be honoured, remembered and recognized, no matter what age you are,” Dechaine said following Saturday afternoon’s game. “I’d just like to say how grateful I am that this community, that gave me an opportunity, is still doing it 50 years later.”
Dechaine and Martin grew up playing hockey together on outdoor rinks in Mallaig, and in 1959 the pair was asked to suit up with the first St. Paul Juvenile Canadiens team. In 1960, Dechaine and Martin moved up to the Regina Pats, playing two seasons before joining the University of Michigan Wolverines, where they won the NCAA Hockey Championship in the 1963-64 season.
“When we were growing up we never dreamt that we would do what we did. We pursued a dream, which was to play professional hockey. Wilf Martin and myself were on the original team of the St. Paul Canadiens . . . the Juvenile Jr. Canadiens coached and organized by Clancy Richard,” said Dechaine. “I think this area is very blessed to have had a man like (Richard). So many young people have come out of this area because of what he did, and pursued a dream they had.”
Martin added it was an honour to be recognized for his contributions to hockey in the St. Paul area alongside Dechaine and Guy.
“It felt good, it’s quite an honour to see my name being up in the rafters,” he said. “After playing here I think there’s more worthy people than myself, but I’m very honoured by what happened.”
Westlock-St. Paul MP Brian Storseth said the jerseys for Xtreme Hockey Night were chosen to recognize the playing careers of the three guests of honour, as Martin and Dechaine played for the Wolverines, while all three spent time playing with the Regina Pats.
“That’s why we had the jerseys out to honour them, because they were Wolverines, and all three of them played with the Pats,” said Storseth. “We thought it was fitting to have the Pats jerseys out too.”
Martin’s nephew, Tyler Poirier, who captained the Wolverines team while his uncle coached, said it was a very special experience to take part in the game and learn more about his uncle’s history.
“It was an honour to see my uncle getting retired into the rafters, that was pretty neat for me today . . . He coached the team and he was there motivating us throughout the game,” said Poirier. “It’s very special, even not knowing the history of how good of a hockey player he was, and getting to hear about his records with the Golden Bears, records in Michigan, it was a pretty neat experience for sure.”
While Martin and Dechaine were honoured in the players’ category, Guy had his name retired to the Clancy Richard Arena as a member of the builders’ category.
“It was quite an honour,” said Guy. “I didn’t expect that.”
Storseth said Guy’s contributions to minor hockey in the area have been enormous.
“He came back and dedicated 21 years to coaching in our community,” said Storseth. “He was on the first minor hockey board . . . he reffed, he participated in every part of our hockey system in St. Paul and he’s still out there giving back.”
Guy’s son Corey deMoissac captained the Pats team at Xtreme Hockey Night, and said it was a great experience to play under his father’s coaching once again.
I had no idea that the committee had planned this before and they kind of threw it at me. He was pretty honoured when we sat down to talk to him. There are a lot of great players from St. Paul who could be up there, so it’s pretty special,” he said, adding many members of the Pats team played for Guy in the past, and were determined to pick him up a victory, which the they did, erasing a 5-0 deficit to come from behind for the win.
“This morning I was getting texts from all the boys, even the guys driving in from Calgary, saying we played for your dad and this is one we want to win for him.”
Guy said the first minor hockey board came about in the 1970s. Since then he spent 21 years coaching various teams, and many of his players suited up for the Pats team at Saturday’s game.
“It was one of those things where we all understood (the situation) and so that’s how we got going. I got involved in coaching a lot and that was in the early 70s, and I still coached a few years ago for my grandson,” he said, adding he knew the Pats would come back in Saturday’s game. “I’ve coached them all my life too, so when we were down 5-0, I knew we’d be back.”