Regulars(Archives)

Nov
27
2015
Volume
4-1

Catch You On The Rebound

(1 Vote)

Fort McMurray’s Own Hockey Heroes

The town of Viking, Alberta achieved notoriety during the 1970s and 1980s when six brothers from the Sutter family made the grade to play in the National Hockey League (NHL).

Not to be left out in the cold, Fort McMurray has had its own all in the Family hockey heroes, with the Campbell, Pratt and Stewart brothers.

Drew and T.J. Campbell found early success in hockey as part of the L. Roberts Enterprises Pee Wee AA Barons, winners of the 37th Quebec International Pee-Wee Hockey Tournament’s International B Class Division.

Co-Head Coach Guy Boutilier said of the 1995 championship squad, which was the first Alberta side to ever win a divisional championship, “I think it made Fort McMurray proud and we were just really proud and honoured to go and represent Fort McMurray.”

Another youngster on that team was Scottie Upshall, who would go on to be drafted by the Nashville Predators, Round 1 No. 6 in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft. A left wing, Upshall entered the 2015-2016 NHL season with 551 goals 115 goals and 119 assists. He currently plays with the St. Louis Blues.

Drew Campbell later wore the University Calgary Dinos jersey (2003-2008) while T.J. found success in the role of student/athlete with the NCCA Division I University of Alaska Fairbanks Nanooks (2004-2008).

T.J. earned a paycheque as a professional, spending a full season in the ECHL as a defenceman for the Phoenix Roadrunners.

A third Campbell brother, Brett, would, like Drew and T.J., suit up for our hometown Fort McMurray Oil Barons of the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL).

Not to be left out of the family picture, their sister Ali established several records while swimming for the Georgia Southern University Eagles.

Although born in Fort McMurray, Nolan Pratt’s Junior A hockey career began, not with the Oil Barons, but the AJHL Bonnyville Pontiacs.

His talent as a defenseman was evident inasmuch as, only 33 games into the season, he was called-up to the Western Hockey League’s Portland Winter Hawks.

Following his first full season in Portland, the Hartford Whalers tagged Pratt 115th overall in the 1993 NHL Entry Draft.

Paying his dues in the minor system, primarily with the American Hockey League (AHL) Springfield Falcons, Pratt made his NHL debut in 1996.

Stanley Cup rings would come his way with the Colorado Avalanche in 2001 and the second with the 2004 Tampa Bay Lightning.

After 11 NHL seasons, Pratt spent three years overseas, including one with the Amur Tigers Khabarovsk in Russia, where its closest Kontinental Hockey League opponent was 3,000 kilometres away!

Retiring after the 2010-11 season, Pratt  is currently an assistant coach with the AHL Lake Erie Monsters.

Drafted by Pittsburgh Penguins in 1997 NHL Entry Draft, 124th overall, Harlan Pratt never made it to the show but had a successful  15 years of minor league experience.

He earned plenty of Air Miles during this period, playing for 16 different teams, including globetrotting stints in Austria, Finland, Germany Italy and  Sweden.

By all accounts, Bobby Stewart was a true winner in the sport of hockey.

Named 1993 AJHL and Oil Barons Rookie of the Year, he would captain the University of Maine Black Bears to a NCAA Division I title in 1999.

With six years of professional hockey under skate (321 games, 183 goals and 197 assists) he was top scorer for the 2003 United Hockey League champion Fort Wayne Komets.

He would add a third championship with the 2008 Brantford Blaze, winners of the Allan Cup which is awarded annually to the top senior amateur men’s hockey team in Canada.

In a phone interview, Grant Standbrook said of Stewart, “He was one of the true leaders of amateur hockey, both on and off of the ice.”

Standbrook was assistant coach with the Black Bears and the man credited with putting together the “Miracle on Ice “ USA men’s hockey gold medal team at 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York.

Bobby’s two younger brothers Jay and  Dan also played NCAA hockey with Jay part of the NCAA Division III champ University of Wisconsin at Superior Yellow Jackets while Dan suited up for Miami University (Ohio).

Dan has shown his durability in the pro ranks, now in year No. 14 and skating for the Fife Flyers in Great Britain’s Elite Ice Hockey League.

“When I first came over it was to get my foot into Europe and see a different part of the world whilst continuing to play the game I loved,” said Dan in e-mail correspondence. “Many factors have played part in me staying over here but in short, I have enjoyed my time here and have made a good living playing a sport I love.” 

Catch you on the rebound!

CURTIS J PHILLIPS

Curtis J. Phillips has been a sports journalist in print/electronic mediums since 1976. A strong advocate of volunteerism, he is a founding father of numerous local events and organizations including the Challenge Cup and Wood Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame. Phillips is also recognized internationally as a sports historian.

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