Class of 2015 Announcements

Charles (Chuck) Knight

Knight named first inductee into Class of 2015
Former mayor regarded as driving force behind MacDonald Island Park

(FORT McMURRAY, AB, March 24, 2015) The Wood Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame (WBSHOF) is proud to announce Charles (Chuck) Knight as the first inductee into the Class of 2015.

Knight arrived in Fort McMurray in 1957 and worked on and off for multiple companies before moving his family to town permanently in 1966. That same year, Knight launched a campaign for a year-round recreational facility, which today, is regarded among the premier community complexes in Canada.

An enthusiastic athlete, Knight played baseball, curled, golfed, dove and played hockey, earning the nickname “Red Light Knight” as a goaltender. In 1971, he turned his attention to local politics and was elected to his first of two terms as Mayor of Fort McMurray (1971-1977 and 1983-1989) following a charismatic speech outlining his vision for the MacDonald Island Recreation Complex.

During his time in office, council appointed a Steering Committee to oversee construction of the facility. In 1977, 20 years after his arrival in Fort McMurray, the MacDonald Island Recreation Complex officially opened. It featured the Miskanaw Golf Course, three baseball fields, a football and soccer field, four tennis courts, cross country ski trails, a cricket pitch, archery, ice rinks and a 12-sheet curling rink.

In 1993, the complex was renamed the C.A. Knight Recreation Centre. 13 years later, the facility closed for major upgrades and repairs. 2009 marked the re-opening of the revised MacDonald Island Park. Two years after that, the street leading to Mac Island was renamed C.A. Knight Way and Knight was honoured for his legacy with a memorial waterfall in the lobby of the Suncor Community Leisure Centre.

Knight retired in 1989 and moved to British Columbia where he passed away at his home in February 2001 at the age of 77.

“I’m thrilled my dad is being inducted into the Wood Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame,” says Knight’s daughter Kim Howell. “I’m so proud that his vision and legacy still positively influences the community and is being recognized.”

Knight will be inducted posthumously into the Wood Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame along with three other inductees on June 18 at the 2015 Induction Dinner held at the Syncrude Sport & Wellness Centre.

Sonja (Blanchard) Frank  

Blanchard named second inductee in Class of 2015

Endurance racer a role model for young female athletes in Wood Buffalo

(FORT McMURRAY, AB, March 26, 2015) The Wood Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame (WBSHOF) is proud to announce Sonja Blanchard (Frank) as the second inductee into the Class of 2015.

Born in Timmins, Ont., Blanchard came to Fort McMurray in 1971 at the age of six and quickly became a force in the local running and swimming scenes. Her dedication to her athletic pursuits seemingly knew no boundaries. Blanchard would put in time early in the morning at the pool and then train in other sports after school had ended.

Among Blanchard’s first major results was a second place finish at the 1985 Alberta Summer Games 10 km road race and winning the 1987 Alberta School’s Athletic Association cross-country running title, the first female championship in ASAA history.

Seeking a way to further her passion for running and swimming, Blanchard began participating in triathlons at just 15-years old. She represented Canada at the International Triathlon Union’s World Championships between 1992 and 1997, taking her to England, New Zealand, Mexico, the United States and France. Her best finishes include 11th in her age group at the 1992 World Championships in Huntsville, Ont., and again in 1997 in Nice, France, where she finished 15th in the elite category.

Blanchard was also a member of the National Elite Triathlon team in 1994 and 1995 and was named 1994 Alberta Triathlon Association Triathlete of the Year. Blanchard proudly represented Fort McMurray at the 1995 Canadian Triathlon Championships, which were held right here in the Wood Buffalo region, placing fourth.

Blanchard also completed a number of marathons throughout North America, placing in the top five overall and for her age group multiple times. Her list of top results include placing fifth overall and third for her age group in her first race, the Vancouver International Marathon in 1992, second in her age group in the 1993 Las Vegas Marathon, first in her age group at the 1998 Seattle Marathon and third in her age group at the 2001 Las Vegas Marathon.

Her personal best time for a marathon came during the 1997 Las Vegas Marathon, where she completed the course in a time of 2:54:02. Blanchard retired from competition in 2001 but can still be found residing in Fort McMurray, helping out in the community.

“It’s an honour,” Blanchard says of her induction. “What I took away (from running) was dedication and hard work. It was exciting to do what I did. I loved to travel and compete around the world. It’s just exciting. I could almost cry.

Colin Murphy

Murphy named third inductee in Class of 2015
Hockey trailblazer built legacy for future generations

(FORT McMURRAY, AB, March 31, 2015) The Wood Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame (WBSHOF) is proud to announce Colin Murphy as the third inductee into the Class of 2015.

Born in Fort McMurray in 1980, Murphy found success at every level of hockey throughout his career. Growing up, Murphy played his junior hockey for the hometown Fort McMurray Oil Barons of the Alberta Junior Hockey League. He was a member of the MOB when the team captured the 2000 Royal Bank Cup on home ice and was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Forward. Murphy was also named to the AJHL’s North All-League First Team that season.

During the 2000-01 season, Murphy’s final with the Oil Barons, he scored 47 goals and finished with 91 points in 62 games. Following the conclusion of his junior career, Murphy committed to play for the Michigan Tech Huskies of the NCAA’s Division I, where he scored 54 goals and totalled 152 points in 145 games.

During his fourth and final season with Michigan Tech (2004-05), Murphy served as the Huskies’captain and was named to the All-WCHA First Team and a Second-Team All-American by the American Hockey Coaches Association. Murphy was also announced as a finalist for the 2005 Hobey Baker Award, given annually to the top male hockey player in the NCAA.

Murphy’s hard work and dedication with the Huskies earned him a contract offer as a free agent with the Toronto Maple Leafs and he finished the 2004-05 season with the St. John’s Maple Leafs of the American Hockey League before the team relocated to Toronto.Suiting up for the Marlies full-time during the 2005-06 season, Murphy made history by scoring the franchise’s first goal on October 7, 2005 against the Rochester Americans.

Overall, Murphy would play 256 career AHL games between 2005 and 2009 with the Maple Leafs,Marlies and Portland Pirates (affiliate of the Buffalo Sabres), scoring 61 goals and 166 points.Following the 2008-09 season with the Pirates, Murphy went overseas to Germany, playing for the Augsburger Panther of the DEL, Germany’s top level of professional hockey. In the 2009-10 season,Murphy scored 19 goals and 57 points in 53 games to finish tied for second in team scoring while serving as one of the team’s assistant captains.

Murphy spent three more seasons in Germany, all with the Hamburg Freezers, scoring 30 goals and 72 points in 101 games. Following the 2012-13 season, Murphy retired from professional hockey.Murphy will be inducted into the Wood Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame along with three other inductees including Charles “Chuck” Knight and Sonja Blanchard (Frank) on June 18 at the 2015 Induction.

Nolan Pratt

Pratt named fourth inductee for Class of 2015
Two-time Stanley Cup champion honoured for lengthy career

(FORT McMURRAY, AB - April 3, 2015) The Wood Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame (WBSHOF) is proud to announce Nolan Pratt as the fourth inductee into the Class of 2015.

Pratt was born in Fort McMurray in 1975 and began his junior hockey career with the Bonnyville Pontiacs of the Alberta Junior Hockey League in 1991. After just 33 games with the team, Pratt was called-up to play with the Portland Winter Hawks of the Western Hockey League.

Following the 1992-93 season, his first full year with Portland, Pratt was drafted by the National Hockey League’s Hartford Whalers in the fifth round (115th overall) of the 1993 NHL Entry Draft. Pratt played two more seasons with the Winter Hawks, finishing with 16 goals and 97 assists in 236 total games.

After spending two more seasons in the minor leagues — primarily with the Springfield Falcons of the American Hockey League — Pratt made his NHL debut with the Whalers in 1996.  He played nine games that season, collecting two assists and six penalty minutes.

By the 1998-99 NHL season, Pratt was an NHL regular, playing with the Carolina Hurricanes who had relocated from Hartford the previous year. In 2000, Pratt was traded to the Colorado Avalanche and would help the Avs to a Stanley Cup championship in 2001. After winning the cup in Colorado, Pratt was traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning, where he spent five seasons, winning the Stanley Cup for a second time in 2004.

Pratt would lace up for his fifth and final NHL franchise during the 2007-08 season when he appeared in 55 games with the Buffalo Sabres, scoring once and adding six assists. He finished his NHL career with nine goals, 56 assists and 65 points in 592 total games, including 38 playoff appearances.

Pratt concluded his professional hockey career playing three seasons in Europe with Amur Khabarovsk of the Kontinental Hockey League and Lukko Rauma of the Finish Elite League.

Retiring from the sport after the 2010-11 season, Pratt didn’t stray far from the game, moving behind the bench to serve as an assistant coach with the Springfield Falcons, a role he’s served for the past four seasons.