Hockey Legends

of Grande Prairie

NPHL FINALS

ICE CHIPS
By Stan Neufeld

There are always stories within the larger narrative of hockey games and a series. One story worthy of note pertains to one of the Peace countries colourful and dedicated hockey families: the Lefleys. One of the goals scored by the Rangers last night came from the stick of Colin Lefley. Colin is the grandson of Art Lefley making him a third generation hockey player in a family name that is legendary in the Peace Country. Art launched the growing tradition of Lefley hockey players in Grande Prairie in 1951 playing with the Grande Prairie Legion. Following a move to Spirit River his name appears on the roster of the South as late as 1963-64 when they won the South Peace Hockey League Championship.

1963-64-SPHL-Champions

He passed on his hockey genes to four sons Jack, Tom, Bart and Allen who have all left their mark on various teams in the Peace Country. At times when Spirit River was unable to form a team their names appear on other rosters including Fairview, Hythe and Grande Prairie . Their will to play the game was undeniable leaving a continuous line of Lefleys starting with Art.

Art eventually retired from actively playing the game to serving as a goal judge: a position from which he continued to coach his sons, never letting them off the hook when they were not performing up to par. Allen has been a long time stick boy and equipment manager, a role he still occupies today. Jack was a scoring wizard in both the South Peace Hockey league and Beaver Hockey league winning a number of scoring titles. Jack’s three sons Colin, Mike and Kelly, have carried on the Lefley tradition and now backstopped by an army of rapidly growing grandchildren that are destined to keep the Lefley hockey dynasty moving forward for the foreseeable future. In December of 2007 Mike became just the second player to have his number (11) retired by the Grande Prairie Storm, since the team was formed in 1995. I was privileged recently to spend a day with Jack and believe me - there is more - much more to the Lefley story and their contribution to the Spirit River community than I have reported here. I will have to leave that for another day.

In the meantime, the Lefley family story is a Canadian story documenting the important role played by countless small communities and “Hometown Hockey” throughout the country. From a cultural perspective hockey is an important feature in our Canadian identity and forms the backbone of the NHL today. Back to Spirit River and the current battle for the cup: will the Coach and General Manager Mel Vollman of the Spirit River Rangers manage to keep the Campbell Cup in the display case of the Spirit River MacLean Rec Center? If Vollman has anything to say about it the answer is YES and if so it will be their fourth consecutive North Peace Hockey League championship.

Sunday, March 6th

Does a team lose their edge when they advance to the championship series by an event that is not of their doing? In this case players for the Grimshaw Huskies had packed away their hockey gear for the season but due to the Ft. St. John fiasco of bolstering their lineup with an ineligible player thus rendering them ineligible contenders for the cup the Huskies were called upon to quickly sharpen their blades and re-motivate themselves to compete in the League Championship series. How does this effect a teams ability to get ready both physically and emotionally?

These are issues confronting the Huskies and for that matter the League following an 8-1 shellacking by the visiting Spirit River Rangers last night. Following last night’s game Grimshaw finds themselves down 2 - 0 in the series but it is by no means doomsday. For game 3 on Tuesday night in Spirit River the Huskies will need to re-load their sticks if they want to get back into the series – a tough assignment but by no means impossible. Last night the Rangers recorded goals from eight different players including Dan Nichols, Jordan Hack, Marco St. Pierre, Trevor Mazurek , Colin Lefley, Ryan Trudeau, Fred Tanguay, and Paul Laroque, and outshot their opponents 46-14. For a reasonable chance to be competitive the Huskies will need to shut down the formidable Ranger offence and score more than once. Last night the Huskies only marker came from the stick of Huskies Boyd Hawryluk who spoiled a shutout bid by Ranger goaltender Alex Wright midway through the second period on a power play goal.

Friday, March 4th


Coach and General Manager Mel Vollman probably did a lot of starts and stops, aerobic and scrimmage drills with his defending champion Spirit River Rangers during their almost two week holiday from the North Peace Hockey League championships. Some analysis's will argue when you stay away from the game that long, you aren't going to have the efficiency or the effectiveness you had when you left. But nearly a  two week layoff didn’t seem to bother the Spirit River Rangers last night  when they opened the first game of the NPHL  championships at home in the MacLean Rec Centre.

The defending champions quickly regained  winning form outshooting their opponents 42-21 defeating Grimshaw Huskies 4-2 taking a one game lead in the best of seven series and the race to defend for the Campbell Cup. According to referee Marty Tingstad, the Huskies hung on for most of the game and did not really generate much for the first two  periods of play. Grimshaw came to life in the third but it was not enough as  Rangers goaltender Alex Wright stood tall and shut the door. D’Lane Sather led the Rangers with a pair of goals while Andrew Buote and Alex Curran netted singles. Ty Wiebe and Bond Hawryluk scored for the losers. 

Rangers certainly won’t have time to let the rust set in this time around or even let their equipment dry as game two goes tomorrow night in  Grimshaw .