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THE CAPTAINS



Barry Pederson, Mark Morrison and Russ Courtnall are well-known Victoria Cougar captains. But there have also been twenty more players who have worn the “C” for the Cougars. In this two-part series, we profile each captain over Victoria’s twenty-three-year history.


1971/72 Murray Kennett – When the Cougars entered the WCHL in 1971, Kennett was selected as the first captain. It wasn’t the first time Kennett was a Cougars captain, as the steady defenseman guided Victoria to a BCJHL championship in 1968/69. He went on to play parts of two seasons in the World Hockey Association (WHA) with Edmonton and Indianapolis. In 1984, he returned to the BCJHL as head coach of the Sidney Capitals. After hockey, Kennett became a Victoria policeman and participated in the 1999 Tour de Rock.

1972/73 - Dale Cook. Led the 72/73 Cougars in scoring with 95 points -- 41 points higher than anyone else on the team. He was the first offensive star for the franchise and named to the WHL all-star team. At the year-end team awards, he was the unanimous choice for MVP. His all-star performance caught the attention of the Philadelphia Flyers, who picked Cook in the fourth round of the 1973 NHL entry draft. He went on to play for three years in the IHL, AHL and the NAHL.

After retiring in 1976, he joined the Esquimalt Maple Leafs of the Big-Six hockey league. In 1979, the Maple Leafs won the Vancouver Island intermediate hockey championship and advanced to the semi-finals of the Coy Cup (BC championship)



1973/74 - Glen Ing - Before joining the Cougars, Ing played two seasons with Regina. He joined Victoria in a 1973 trade for Dave Faulkner and was named captain after training camp.

Although Victoria struggled in 1973/74, Ing scored a career-high 29 goals and 62 points. Upon graduating from the Cougars, Chicago drafted Ing in 1974 and played pro in the CHL, IHL and Europe. He later skated for the 1977/78 University of Saskatchewan Huskies and was third in team scoring.

1974/75 - Kim Clackson - When Pat Ginnell took over as GM/coach in 1974, his main priority was adding team toughness. One of the first moves he made was the addition of defenseman Kim Clackson. In 1974/75, the Cougars had the best record in the WCHL and made the playoffs for the first time. Clackson led the team with 359 penalty minutes.

As a rookie with Indianapolis Racers in 1975/76, he set the WHA record for penalty minutes in a season with 351. Clackson shattered the previous record of 239 penalty minutes with only 37 games of the 80-game schedule completed. (1) He is second in all-time WHA career penalty minutes with 932.

While playing for the Pittsburgh Penguins, Clackson tied an NHL record for most penalties in a playoff game with eight. On April 14, 1980, during a 6-2 loss to Boston, he racked up five minor penalties, two fighting majors and one misconduct.

At one time, he also held the record for most career NHL games without scoring a goal - 106. Four others have since surpassed this record.

After eight years in the WHA and NHL, Clackson retired in 1981. He currently resides in Pittsburgh. (Listen to Cam Connor’s podcast interview with Clackson)


1975/76 - Jim Gustafson - Named captain after a 102-point rookie season in 1974/75. Gustafson thrived in his sophomore year with a team-leading 140 points in 1975/76 (7th in WCHL). He also set a WHL record with a 33-game point-scoring streak. Gustafson was named team MVP and Most Inspirational Player. The St. Louis Blues draft pick played three years with Port Huron in the IHL before calling it quits in 1980.

His brother, Brian Gustafson, played junior with the Soo Greyhounds on a team that featured Wayne Gretzky and former Cougar Dan Lucas. Jim’s son, Jeff Gustafson, is a professional bass fisherman and only the second Canadian to win on the Bassmaster Elite Series Tour.

1976-78 - Curt Fraser - the first Cougar to hold the captaincy for two years. He initially made the team in 1974 as a sixteen-year-old. At his first training camp, Fraser impressed coach Pat Ginnell with four fights in one-afternoon training session. He graduated from junior as the franchise leader in goals, assists, points, and penalty minutes. In 1977, he was the first Cougar to represent Canada at the World Junior Championships. The Vancouver Canucks drafted Fraser 22nd overall in the 1978 NHL Amateur Draft and went on to a 12-year pro career.

After retiring in 1990, the Milwaukee Admirals hired Fraser as an assistant coach. In 1999, he became the first head coach in Atlanta Thrasher history and the only Cougar alumnus to coach in the National Hockey League. Fraser’s career was honoured in 2015 with an induction into the BC Hockey Hall of Fame.

1978/79 - Geordie Robertson - The first and only Victoria-born Cougar captain. As a 16-year-old, he won the 1975/76 BCJHL championship with the Nanaimo Clippers. In his second year with the Cougars (1977/78), he flourished with Jack Shupe as coach. Robertson had a team-leading 136 points (5th overall in the WCHL) and set the Cougars' single-season playoff record for goals with fifteen.

After attending an Olympic tryout, Shupe named Robertson captain during the 1978 training camp. 1978/79 was an injury-riddled campaign for Robertson. He could not match the huge point totals from his previous year but did manage 73 points in 54 games. The season's highlight was playing with his younger brother Torrie. On opening night, Geordie assisted on Torrie’s first WHL goal.

Bypassed in the 1979 NHL amateur draft, Robertson signed a contract with the Buffalo Sabres. He appeared in five NHL games and spent seven years with the Rochester Americans. After hockey, Robertson settled in Rochester and entered the Americans Hall of Fame in 1993. (Read more in our profile of Geordie Robertson)

1979/80 - Mark Robinson - With Robinson as captain, the Cougars advanced to the WHL finals for the first time. The defenseman was a second-team WHL All-Star, and the only Cougar selected in the 1980 NHL entry draft (3rd round by Buffalo).

Robinson is an accomplished golfer and competed in the 1977 Canadian men’s junior golf championship (won by future PGA tour pro - Victoria’s Jim Rutledge).


1980/81 - Barry Pederson - Captained the most successful team in WHL history. In his third year, he led the star-studded 1980/81 Cougars in scoring with 147 points in only 55 games. Victoria went on to win the WHL championship for the only time in franchise history. They also established the current WHL record for wins in a season with 60. Before joining the Cougars, Pederson won two BCJHL championships (1977 and 1978) with the Nanaimo Clippers.

Drafted in the first round by the Boston Bruins, Pederson appeared in 701 NHL games. On March 13, 1985, Pederson returned to Memorial Arena when the Cougars retired his number 8 jersey - the only number retired in Cougars history. (1) At the time, Pederson was only the sixth player in major junior hockey to have their jersey retired. In 2010, Pederson was inducted into the Nanaimo Sports Hall of Fame.

1981-83 - Mark Morrison - The heart and soul of the Victoria Cougars. The high-scoring center held the captaincy for two years. Earned a roster spot as a sixteen-year-old and played a significant role on the 1980/81 championship team. Morrison is the franchise record holder for games, goals, assists, and points. Captained the Cougars to their final playoff series win (1983 over Portland). He participated in two World Juniors (along with teammate Paul Cyr), winning Gold in 1982 and Bronze in 1983. (Read our post on Morrison and Cyr at the World Juniors)

After the 1982 World Juniors, he joined the New York Rangers for nine games. Morrison enjoyed a long pro career in Europe in Italy, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. He spent twelve years with the Fife Flyers and is one of three Flyers to have their jersey retired.

In 2007, Morrison returned to Vancouver Island as the coach/general manager of the Victoria Salmon Kings (2007-11). After four seasons as an assistant with the Anaheim Ducks, Morrison took over as head coach of the Manitoba Moose in 2021.


NEXT - THE CAPTAINS: PART 2 - COURTNALL TO BUTZ



Reference


(1) “’Kimmy’ Wrecks WHA Penalty Record January 6, 1976 (Page 8 of 28) Victoria Times (1971-1980) ; Victoria, British Columbia [Victoria, British Columbia]. 06 Jan 1976: 8.

(1) “Cougars to honor Pederson” March 13, 1985 (Page 14 of 48). Times Colonist (1980-2010) 1985 Mar 13(91):14.

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