For winning the 2000 RBC Royal Bank Cup – symbolic of Junior A supremacy in Canada – the 1999-2000 Fort McMurray Oil Barons are the second selection as the inaugural inductees into the Wood Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame.
OIL BARONS NATIONAL CHAMPIONS
There were three main questions heading into the 2000 Royal Bank Cup, the Stanley Cup of Canadian Junior A hockey, held May 5-14, 2000 in Fort McMurray Alberta.
Question 1: Would the Rayside-Balfour Sabrecats, of the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League, live up to their season long No.1 billing and skate away with the title.
Question 2: Were the host Fort McMurray Oil Barons a team of destiny. A team with a Alberta Junior Hockey League title and Doyle Cup – symbolic of Alberta-British Columbia Junior A hockey – already in the trophy case and a powerful seventh man behind them in the fans.
Question 3: Or would it be a millennium miracle on ice for either of the three other competing teams: the Chilliwack Chiefs, Cornwall Colts or North Batlleford Stars.
It was down to the final five from the 10 leagues across Canada featuring 138 teams.
After 10 days and 14 hard fought contests it would be discovered who the champion would be.
A discovery that originally found its energy three years prior with the vision of two men – Guy Botuilier and Bob Campbell – who along with 650 volunteers nurtured this challenging experience in earnest to the point that it was championed by the entire community of Fort McMurray and never relinquished.
Fort McMurray finished first in the round-robin with a 3-1 record, and beat the Stars 5-2 in the sudden-death semi-final while the Sabrecats edged the Chiefs 2-1.
In the championship final, held Mother’s Day, and watched by a national television audience, it would be a battle of goalies…Sabrecats’ Sebastien LaPlante ranked No. 1 in the nation and Oil Barons’ Brent Zelenewich ranked No. 7.
Or would it be a clash of scoring machines. The Oil Barons notching 321 goals in 64 regular season games and the Sabrecats an amazing 315 goals in only 40 contests.
The Sabrecats knew how to win and so do the Oil Barons.
Rayside-Balfour was the top performing Junior A team percentage wise in Canada during the last five years.
The Oil Barons reached a No.2 ranking at one point during the 1999-2000 campaign which was a 51 ranking improvement from the previous year.
Oil Barons head coach Fran Gow had done a noble job in building a winner by signing Western Hockey League vets Tyler Brough, Scott McQueen, Chad Ketzel, Craig Strain (named tournaments Most Sportsmanlike Player) and Quinn Sherdahl.
He also meshed local talent and allowed them to make a major spark with Travis Gladue, Colin Murphy (named tournament Most Outstanding Forward) , Nick Roberts, Ron Staudinger and Scottie Upshall.
After 60 minutes of play the score was 3-1 and Oil Barons were “Kings of Junior Hockey”.
Of interesting note, of the 25 Oil Barons players all but one went on to post-secondary education.
Comments from team members on the team’s selection into the Wood Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame:
Being part of the Royal Bank Cup Champions Ft McMurray Oil Barons was a dream come true. As a young hockey player growing up in Fort McMurray I’d always wanted to play with the Oil Barons. It was very special group of guys that put together that team in `999-2000, and those memories together will always be remembered. It is a huge honour to be part of great Fort McMurray hockey tradition and to be inducted into the Wood Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame
As far as a few words I personally would like to thank the Fort McMurray Oil Barons organization and the city of Fort McMurray for putting such a great event. It was just great as a player to see how involved people were for the RBC tournament and it showed why we have the best fans in Junior A hockey. I know every member of our team that year will be pleased to hear about the award from the WBSHF. It’s nice to be recognized amongst the great athletic teams and individuals to be selected into the four original inductees of hall of fame.
” It’s an honour for our team to be selected for the Wood Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame. We had a great team that year and it was one of the best times of my life. I would love nothing more than to come up to Fort McMurray once again to see all the boys and enjoy the town that we called home for that season”
“The year I had in Fort McMurray was one I will remember forever. Greatest hockey team I’ve ever played on! Not just because we won the Royal Bank Cup, but because of the performance we demonstrated throughout the season.It is rare that a group of people, players, staff, billets, and fans, come together to enjoy a victorious event like we did in 2000. What a great honor to be elected into the Wood Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame.”
To write what it meant to be an Oil Baron in a few short sentences is impossible. I could write a book on the memories I had with the players, coaches, training staff, my billets and the city itself. Because of that team we are all champions and nobody can ever take that away from us. From Fran Gow’s coaching to the great leadership of Rob Staudinger, we were dominant from day one. I still get tears in my eyes when I think about the memories of being an Oil Baron. Well if I had to sum up my experience in one word, that word would be AWESOME!!
It is an honor to be selected to the Wood Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame. I just wish I could have attended the ceremony. I do not think words can express what it meant for me and the other players to be part of that championship team. It was simply AMAZING. For me, I spent the best four years of my life in Fort McMurray playing for the Oil Barons. The friendships I have made will last a lifetime, and the tattoo on my leg reminds me every day of our RBC Championship. I guess I will just have to wait for the ten year reunion to see all the boys together again. Who’s throwing the reunion bash?
“I think this is a great idea as many towns and cities throughout Canada have similar societies set up for sporting accomplishments and I also know that you and your group will do a great job in getting this going! It would be an honor to be a part of this and you can count me in!”
“As a resident of Fort McMurray for the past 21 Years it is an honor. The 1999-2000 Barons were in my mind the best all around hockey team the AJHL has ever seen and it was an honor to be part of it.”
PLAYERS: Scott Basiuk, Kent Beagle, Jason Boyd, Tyler Brough, Michael Brown, Galloway Carrroll, Jeff Drummond, Shane Frank, Travis Gladue, Chad Ketzel, Dave McCulloch, Scott McQueen, Brad McTavish, Colin Murphy, Clint Orr, Edward Skip Renauld, Nick Roberts, Nathan Rosychuk, Dustin Schwartz, Quinn Sherdahl, Robbie Staudinger, Craig Strain, Justin Trudeau, Scottie Upshall, Brent Zelenewhich
STAFF: Gates Genereux, Fran Gow, Kevin Higo, Wendell Hodgson, Shane Kearney, Curtis O’Brien
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