Underdog ’89 Petes never quit

Reunion for team on Saturday night

Canadian Olympic hockey coach Mike Babcock recently said a team which wins a championship walks together forever.

That’s exactly how members of the Peterborough Petes’ 1989 OHL championship squad feel.

While some haven’t seen each other in many years, it will be like they were never apart when the Petes honour the 20th anniversary of their victory prior to Saturday’s game against the Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors at 7 p.m. at the Memorial Centre.

Andy MacVicar, now a school liaison officer with the Halifax police, played on a line with the ’89 team’s marquee names — Mike Ricci and Tie Domi.

MacVicar, who will be among 18 players and staff attending the celebration, says when he sees old teammates it’s like nothing has changed.

“You think time will change things, but it doesn’t,” MacVicar said. “I’m really looking forward to reconnecting with the guys.”

Mark Myles flew in from Vancouver where he’s a partner in Deans Knight Capital Management, a money management firm for high-net worth individuals. His wife Shanee (nee Hodson) is a Peterborough native and they usually visit the city once a year. He was a rookie in 1989 and later captained the club.

“I think the only reason I made the team is (because) Jody Hull stuck in Hartford,” Myles said.

Injuries opened up ice time after Christmas and Myles ended up on a checking line with captain Dave Lorentz, vice-principal at Thomas A. Stewart Secondary School, and Geoff Ingram, now an OPP officer.

“The thing which sticks out for me is the first game at the Memorial Cup where I started,” Myles said. “I was listening to O Canada and had shivers running all through me.”

The Petes upset the heavily favoured Niagara Falls Thunder, the top-ranked team all season, in a memorable six-game OHL final. The Thunder featured league scoring champion Bryan Fogarty who eclipsed Bobby Orr’s record for most points by a defenceman.

Controversial coach Bill LaForge, often accused of employing goon tactics, used a “41-Thunder game plan” (four forwards and one defenceman) which incorporated Fogarty into the attack as a fourth forward. The club featured future NHLers including Keith Primeau, Stan Drulia, Jamie Leach, Keith Osborne, Brad May, Scott Pearson, Dennis Vial and Paul Laus.

They pounded the Petes 9-3 and 8-0 in regular-season meetings.

The Petes pulled off an upset for the ages in the playoffs.

“They had quite a lineup,” MacVicar said. “Under Dick’s (coach Dick Todd) leadership we played solid and consistent and stuck to the plan. The consistency and discipline kept us on track. Niagara Falls grew frustrated with us and started taking stupid penalties. It was a really strong commitment to the strategy.”

The Petes went on to the Memorial Cup in Saskatoon where Ricci came down with chicken pox and many players got the flu. They lost in the semifinal to the eventual champion Swift Current Broncos with players vomiting into buckets on the bench.

“I firmly believe if things were right we could have been in the final and given a serious run for the championship,” MacVicar said.

Lorentz, who organized the reunion, said his team overcame a lot of adversity from a seven-game losing streak to Domi suffering a broken ankle, Ross Wilson a shoulder injury and Dan Brown a 15-game suspension.

“You had a superstar in Ricci and Corey Foster played a few games in New Jersey that year and had gone to the world juniors,” Lorentz said, “but it was your second, third and fourth lines which stepped up. Everybody had a role and everybody got together as a team.”

Myles will never forget the bus ride home after winning the championship in Niagara Falls. No alcohol was allowed, but assistant coach Terry Bovair handed out cigars.

“It seemed like a great idea when we left Niagara,” Myles said. “Halfway home everyone was green and wanted the windows opened.”

Lorentz said he’s not sure if Ricci can attend because of commitments as a player development coach for the NHL’s San Jose Sharks. Domi is in Albania and will not attend.

Other confirmed players include Foster, Mike Dagenais, Scott Campbell, Jamie Pegg, Joe Hawley, Steve DeGurse, Troy Stephens, Paul Mitton, Mike Tomlinson, Jamey Hicks, Brian Hayton, Tom Hopkins and Todd Bojcun. Petes’ GM Jeff Twohey was then trainer. Assistant trainer Will Huddlestone, former Examiner reporter Mike Brophy and former CHEX-TV sportscaster John McFadden will also attend.

The group will assemble prior to the game in the Petes’ Alumni Room and attend a private function afterwards.

Mike Davies
The Peterborough Examiner