A vast majority of one of UPEI’s most memorable teams was present to see it take its spot among Panthers icons.
Doug Currie, captain of the 1984-85 Atlantic championship hockey team, estimated 85 per cent of the squad attended Thursday’s induction ceremony into the UPEI Sports Hall of Fame. It was the last individual/team to be inducted on the night, bringing membership into the Hall to 50 in this the 50th anniversary of the university.
“Today’s turnout is a reflection of what the players received while they were here,” Currie said.
“It’s a strong reflection of the university community and not just the university community but the City of Charlottetown,” he added. “We were more than just a university hockey team; we were embraced by the community and we had a tremendous amount of support.”
The Panthers finished the regular season atop the standings with a 20-4-0 record. They scored the second most goals in the conference with 174 and gave up the least with 80.
“That was just such a great team, great chemistry – the depth we had with four big, strong lines, great defence and great goaltending,” said right-winger Albert Roche. “It was just a good team that came together at the right time.”
Another key component was the man behind the bench.
Vince Mulligan, who had taken over from Jack Hynes, was a great recruiter who knew how to get the most out of his squad while ensuring everyone felt part of a team that had a large base of local players.
“Vince deserves a lot of credit,” Currie said. “He took the blueprint that was laid by Jackie Hynes and sort of got us over the hump.”
While more than three decades have passed since the memorable season, it would have been hard pressed to know that Thursday night.
“It was 35 years ago,” Currie said. “We all came together prior to the (induction ceremony) and it was just like we were walking back in the dressing room.”
That camaraderie was on display as video interviews were played during the induction. Guys laughed and smiled and pointed at one another, giving a few fun-loving jabs along the way as they relived those special memories they shared.
“It’s nice to come back and see teammates and see where you had so much fun,” said centre Gordie Roche said.
The video played during the induction included a clip of the climax to the season – Bob MacDonald’s overtime winner in Game 2 of the best-of-three final with Moncton as the Panthers celebrated their championship with their green and white jerseys and Cooperalls.
“To me, it was so vivid, and it was just an absolute treasure to have that as a memory,” said Albert, who was on the ice at the time of the memorable goal. “I certainly did recall the energy in the building and how memorable it was at the moment to win at home.”
It was the first time the Panthers had won the Atlantic championship since the Saint Dunstan’s Saints won it 20 years earlier with Mulligan playing on the squad.
“The old Forum, that Saturday afternoon in March, I’ll never forget it,” Currie said.