OCN Blizzard

Last updated
OCN Blizzard
OCN Blizzard.png
City The Pas, Manitoba
League Manitoba Junior Hockey League
Founded1996
Home arena Gordon Lathlin Memorial Centre
ColoursBlue, Red, White
General managerGreg Hunter
Head coachChris Perchaluk

The Opaskwayak Cree Nation (OCN) Blizzard are a junior "A" ice hockey team from The Pas, Manitoba, Canada. They are members of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League, a part of the Canadian Junior Hockey League and Hockey Canada. The team is owned by two local businessmen and brothers Salman Safdar Dhillon and Usman Tahir Dhillon. Blizzard games are broadcast on local radio station CJAR 102.9 FM and can also be heard online at www.thepasonline.com.

Contents

History

The Blizzard were founded in 1996 by the Opaskwayak Cree Nation. The team was a year in the making with the Cree Nation's goal to enter the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL). Their hockey development and recreation department spent many months prior getting the community members on board through community meetings and house to house visits. Boh Kubrakovich, Jim Smith and Nathan McGillivary spent time working with the SJHL prior to entering their current league, the Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL).

The Blizzard name and jersey was styled after the Utica Blizzard of the Colonial Hockey League. It was through a Blizzard like snow storm that the new directors of the team made it to Winnipeg to announce the team. During the press conference the directors decided to call the team the Opaskwayak Blizzard.

Founding directors were James Smith, Chief Frances Flett, Gordon Lathlin, Gilbert Lathlin, Nathan McGillivary and recreation director/director of hockey Boh Kubrakovich. They selected Gardiner MacDougall as their first head coach and director of hockey. Leonard Strandberg was then hired as the general manager in 1996.

From the 1998–99 season until 2002–03, the Blizzard became the second team in MJHL history and the first team in over sixty years to win five straight Turnbull Cup titles as MJHL playoff champions. At the ANAVET Cup regional tournament, in succession, the Blizzard lost to the SJHL's Estevan Bruins in 1999, to the Battlefords North Stars in 2000, the Weyburn Red Wings in 2001, defeated the Kindersley Klippers in 2002, and then lost in 2003 to the Humboldt Broncos. By winning the ANAVET Cup in 2002 the Blizzard earned them the right to compete in the 2002 Royal Bank Cup. They finished the Junior A national championship round-robin with a 2–2 record. In the semi-final OCN defeated the British Columbia Hockey League's Chilliwack Chiefs 4–3. They would go on to lose in the national final to the Halifax Exports 3–1.

In December 2016, the Opaskwayak Cree Nation council declared its intention to cease team operations following the 2016–17 season. [1] The Blizzard board of directors were later granted permission to operate the team for another season, but without funding from the band council. [2]

In 2018 a pair of local businessmen jumped in to save the club. A proposal was presented in front of elected chief and council of Opaskwayak Cree Nation and it was unanimously approved and a sale agreement was signed. [3] [4] [5] That sale was brought before the MJHL board of governors and after meeting a few more conditions was approved. [6] [7]

List of championships

ChampionshipYears won
Turnbull Cup 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003
ANAVET Cup 2002

Season-by-season record

Note: GP = Games Played, W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, OTL = Overtime Losses, GF = Goals for, GA = Goals against

SeasonGPWLTOTLGFGAPtsFinishPlayoffs
1996–9755321841274228692nd MJHLLost final
1997–9861421810285202852nd MJHLLost semi-final
1998–9962537114011491081st MJHLWon league
1999–006444164305194921st MJHLWon league
2000–0164501043341921041st MJHLWon league
2001–026456633791491151st MJHLWon league, won ANAVET Cup
2002–036354813801601091st MJHLWon league
2003–0464461083551771001st MJHLLost quarter-final
2004–0563292212221221705th MJHLLost quarter-final
2005–066337179232181832nd MJHLLost final
2006–07631635122232814410th MJHLDid not qualify
2007–08 6222364204272489th MJHLDid not qualify
2008–09 6232228214211725th MJHLLost quarter-final
2009–10 6224308181202569th MJHLDid not qualify
2010–11 62341810182164785th MJHLLost quarter-final
2011–12 6131237176183697th MJHLLost semi-final
2012–13 6039165226193833rd MJHLLost semi-final
2013–14 6021345171235478th MJHLLost quarter-final
2014–15 60203551672034510th MJHLLost survivor series
2015–16 6027303185214576th MJHLLost quarter-final
2016–17 6039174200153823rd MJHLLost final
2017–18 6032208209192724th MJHLLost quarter-final
2018–19 60184021532583810th MJHLDNQ

Playoffs

OCN Blizzard defeated Portage Terriers 4-games-to-1
OCN Blizzard defeated Winkler Flyers 4-games-to-none
St. James Canadians defeated OCN Blizzard 4-games-to-1
OCN Blizzard defeated Portage Terriers 4-games-to-2
Winkler Flyers defeated OCN Blizzard 4-games-to-1
OCN Blizzard defeated Dauphin Kings 4-games-to-none
OCN Blizzard defeated Winkler Flyers 4-games-to-1
OCN Blizzard defeated Winnipeg South Blues 4-games-to-noneMJHL CHAMPIONS
Estevan Bruins (SJHL) defeated OCN Blizzard 4-games-to-2
OCN Blizzard defeated Swan Valley Stampeders
OCN Blizzard defeated Dauphin Kings 4-games-to-none
OCN Blizzard defeated Winnipeg South Blues 4-games-to-1MJHL CHAMPIONS
Battlefords North Stars (SJHL) defeated OCN Blizzard 4-games-to-1
OCN Blizzard defeated Swan Valley Stampeders 4-games-to-1
OCN Blizzard defeated Neepawa Natives 4-games-to-1
OCN Blizzard defeated Winkler Flyers 4-games-to-noneMJHL CHAMPIONS
Weyburn Red Wings (SJHL) defeated OCN Blizzard 4-games-to-2
OCN Blizzard defeated Swan Valley Stampeders 4-games-to-none
OCN Blizzard defeated Portage Terriers 4-games-to-3
OCN Blizzard defeated Winkler Flyers 4-games-to-noneMJHL CHAMPIONS
OCN Blizzard defeated Kindersley Klippers (SJHL) 4-games-to-1ANAVET CUP CHAMPIONS
Third in 2002 Royal Bank Cup round robin (2-2)
OCN Blizzard defeated Chilliwack Chiefs (BCHL) 4-3 in semi-final
Halifax Oland Exports (MJAHL) defeated OCN Blizzard 3-1 in final
OCN Blizzard defeated Dauphin Kings 4-games-to-none
OCN Blizzard defeated Portage Terriers 4-games-to-1
OCN Blizzard defeated Southeast Blades 4-games-to-noneMJHL CHAMPIONS
Humboldt Broncos (SJHL) defeated OCN Blizzard 4-games-to-1
Portage Terriers defeated OCN Blizzard 4-games-to-none
Portage Terriers defeated OCN Blizzard 4-games-to-2
OCN Blizzard defeated Swan Valley Stampeders 4-games-to-1
OCN Blizzard defeated Dauphin Kings 4-games-to-3
Winnipeg South Blues defeated OCN Blizzard 4-games-to-1
Dauphin Kings defeated OCN Blizzard 4-games-to-2
Dauphin Kings defeated OCN Blizzard 4-games-to-3
OCN Blizzard defeated Swan Valley Stampeders 4-games-to-2
Winnipeg Saints defeated OCN Blizzard 4-games-to-2
OCN Blizzard defeated Swan Valley Stampeders 4-games-to-1
Dauphin Kings defeated OCN Blizzard 4-games-to-3
OCN Blizzard defeated Waywayseecappo Wolverines 2-games-to-1
Dauphin Kings defeated OCN Blizzard 4-games-to-0
Selkirk Steelers defeated OCN Blizzard 2-games-to-0
Winkler Flyers defeated OCN Blizzard 4-games-to-1
OCN Blizzard defeated Winnipeg Blues 4-games-to-1
OCN Blizzard defeated Winkler Flyers 4-games-to-0
Portage Terriers defeated OCN Blizzard 4-games-to-2
Winkler Flyers defeated OCN Blizzard 4-games-to-2

Retired numbers

Notable alumni

Many players have used the OCN Blizzard as a stepping stone into a career in the professional leagues across Canada, the United States, and Europe.

NameTeam(s)
Ryan Constant Hartford Wolfpack (AHL)
Josh Elmes Rapid City Rush (ECHL)
Derek Ernest Wheeling Nailers (ECHL)
Andrew Gallant Elmira Jackals (ECHL)
Mike Gooch Wheeling Nailers (ECHL)
Kristjan Jefkins Victoria Salmon Kings (ECHL)/Amsterdam Tijgers (BeNe League)
Darcy Johnson Long Beach Ice Dogs (ECHL)
Brady Keeper Florida Panthers (NHL)
Charles Lachance Tulsa Oilers (ECHL)
Steve MacIntyre Edmonton Oilers (NHL)
Jon Mirasty Syracuse Crunch (AHL)/HC Vityaz (KHL)
Konrad McKay Bridgeport Sound Tigers (AHL)
Chris Murphy Greenville Grrrowl (ECHL)
Jamie Muswagon Wheeling Nailers (ECHL)
Mike OuelletLong Beach Ice Dogs (ECHL)/VisbyRoma
Ryan Person Greenville Grrrowl (ECHL)
Russell Spence Greenville Grrrowl (ECHL)/RT Bad Nauheim
Jordin Tootoo Chicago Blackhawks (NHL)
Terence Tootoo Roanoke Express (ECHL)
Dale Warkentin Bakersfield Condors (ECHL)
Wally Wuttunee Wheeling Nailers (ECHL)

See also

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References

  1. "MJHL still hopeful OCN Blizzard can be saved". Winnipeg Free Press. December 22, 2016.
  2. "OCN Blizzard will play next season". The Reminder. March 12, 2017.
  3. "Opaskwayak Cree Nation selling junior hockey team". CBC Manitoba. January 21, 2019.
  4. "OCN Blizzard sale awaits league governors' vote". Winnipeg Free Press. January 21, 2019.
  5. "OCN junior club sold to locally-based ownership group". The Reminder. January 25, 2019.
  6. "Businessmen in The Pas buy MJHL's troubled OCN Blizzard franchise". Winnipeg Free Press. May 15, 2019.
  7. "New ownership for OCN Blizzard confirmed". The Reminder. May 25, 2019.