|Elliot Lake Vikings|
|League:||Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League|
|Home Arena:||Centennial Arena|
|Colors:||Yellow, Red, Black, and White|
|1966-1997:||Elliot Lake Vikings|
|1997-1999:||Elliot Lake Ice|
|1999-2000:||Nickel Centre Barons|
|2000-2001:||Blind River Barons|
|2001-Present:||Blind River Beavers|
The Elliot Lake Vikings was a Canadian Junior ice hockey team that originally began playing in the International Junior B Hockey League in 1966. In 1981 the team moved to the Tier II Junior A Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League. The team was located in Elliot Lake, Ontario, Canada. The team now exists as the current Blind River Beavers franchise.
History[edit | edit source]
The Elliot Lake Vikings Junior Hockey Club was founded and first played in the International Junior B Hockey League in 1966 under the NOHA jurisdiction. The league consisted of the following teams: The Elliot Lake Vikings, the Blind River Beavers, the Thessalon Flyers, the Sault Ste Marie Thunderbirds (1976), the Sault Ste Marie (Michigan) Indians, the Wawa Travellers, the Chapleau Huskies, and the Marquette Americans (1977).
Mr. Peter Svela was the original catalyst of starting up the Elliot Lake Vikings. The team was fairly competitive until 1970 under the coaching of Mr. Barry Johnston. From 1966 to 1971 the dominant teams in the league were the Chapleau Huskies, the Blind River Beavers and the Soo Michigan Indians.
From 1971 to 1973 the team was poorly managed, was not competitive and was on the verge of bankruptcy. It is important to note that the original charter for the Team was set up as a non-profit organization and relied on various fundraising activities to meet its financial requirements.
Prior to the 1974 season a new executive was elected, holding over several of the previous Board of Director members and John Berthelot Sr. was appointed as the new President and Head Coach. Through the generosity and assistance of two of the major creditors of the club and with the hard work of the executive, the team started rebuilding the clubs finances. In 1974 the club had great difficulties in acquiring not just enough talented players, but often weren't even able to ice a full roster for games.
During this period of time the Blind River Beavers, the Soo Thunderbirds and the Soo Michigan Indians were the dominant teams.
Starting in 1975 both Rio Algom Mines Ltd and Denison Mines Ltd assisted the club by way of some sponsorship, but more importantly they agreed and did hire many of the players enabling the team to properly recruit talent. A decision which proved to be very controversial at the time that was made by Mr. Berthelot and the executive of the club, was to stop the practice of bringing under age players up from the Elliot Lake Minor Hockey System until they were of proper age to play Junior hockey. Many players came up to the Vikings back then at the age of 14 and 15. It is worthwhile to note that some of these players were very talented and one wonders just how far their personal hockey careers may have gone had they been given the opportunity to hone their skills within their appropriate age groups, rather than having been thrust into playing against 20 year olds before they were ready.
By 1976 the Vikings were a competitive team, ranking in the upper tier of teams in the league and eventually lost out in a dramatic overtime loss in the final game of the League semi-finals against the Thessalon Flyers who would eventually lose out to the Soo Thunderbirds in the Finals.
During the rebuilding of the teams finances and competitiveness, another important footnote in Canadian Amateur Hockey history occurred. With the poor on ice performance and finances of the club there were few volunteers during the rebuilding years. In 1974 Mrs. Arlene Berthelot became the first woman to hold the position of Manager (later to be referred to as a General Manager) of a Junior Hockey Club in Canada. She signed the NOHA card and acted as the Manager, Trainer (later joining Hockey Ontario in the Hockey Trainers Certification Program as one the first Certified Hockey Trainer in the NOHA in 1979), team mother, and any did all other tasks as required to help the Team succeed.
In 1979 a new executive was elected, with Mr. Gord Ouimet becoming the Team President.
From 1976 until the Team joined the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League (NOJHL) in 1981, the team never finished lower than 3rd place in the league standings. During this time the Team played in front of the largest crowds in the League.
In their inaugural season in the NOJHL the Vikings lost in the League finals to the Onaping Falls Huskies.
The 1982-83 season proved to be the Vikings most successful season ever, finishing second in the League Standings, winning the NOJHL Championship. They became the first NOJHL Team to ever win a game against an Ontario Provincial Junior A Hockey League team, beating the North York Rangers in Guelph, Ontario, where the game was played due to arena scheduling conflicts with the Rangers home rink and later in Elliot Lake in front of crowds so big that the Fire Marshal was limiting fans to the building due to the size of the crowds.
The Vikings did lose the series 3-games-to-2 to the Rangers. The Team was made up of talent that had been developed in the local Elliot Lake organizations with one exception. The Vikings did so with players who benefited from Mr. Berthelot's controversial decision from 1975 as referenced above. The one exception and only import player on the team was a highly skilled defenceman named Shannon Hope, who was acquired in a trade late in the season from the Capreol Hawks.
Another interesting aside is that the Vikings had three brothers on their Championship Team, John, David and Marty Berthelot.
The Vikings survived from 1981 through to 1997. From 1997-1999 the team was known as the Elliot Lake Ice. Their stretch in the league started off promising. They won the league in their second year and 6 of their first 9 seasons had above .500 records. In the 1982-83 season, the Vikings, as NOJHL Champions, took on the Ontario Provincial Junior A Hockey League Champions, the North York Rangers, for the Ontario Hockey Association championship and the right to play the Thunder Bay Flyers for the Dudley Hewitt Cup. Elliot Lake lost the series 3-games-to-2. When the team was at its peak in the 80's fans either packed Centennial Arena or listened to Bobby Alexander calling the game on CKNR radio.
Seemingly in 1990-91 the floor fell out from beneath them when the mines shut down. They would not see another winning season until 1998-99 -- their last season in the league. The low point in the teams history had to be the 1991-92 season. The team only had 1 victory in 48 games and averaged an unfathomable 14.75 goals against per game. Rick Dennie was one of many goalies to have suffered on a weak Vikings team during the 1990s. During his brief two year career he failed to win a game while facing upwards of 60 shots an outing. He no longer plays hockey.
Players who have played for the organization include the Dallas Stars' Jeremy Stevenson and Pittsburgh Penguins prospect Chris Thorburn. Past greats include Doug McEwen who went on to become the all-time leading scorer for the Cardiff Devils in the British Hockey League and Shannon Hope who also had a lengthy career with Cardiff. In 1999 the teams owner abruptly left the city without warning, leaving the club without an owner and future.
Season-by-Season Results[edit | edit source]
|1982-83||42||26||10||6||-||272||184||58||2nd NOJHL||Won League|
|1987-88||40||22||14||4||-||227||219||48||2nd NOJHL||Lost Final|
Player Records (League)[edit | edit source]
Most Shorthanded Goals, One Game: 3 - Denis Castonguay, Rayside Balfour, 1983-84 3 - Rob Demers, Elliot Lake, 1983-84
Fastest Goal, Start of a Game: 6 sec. - Michael Gingras, Rayside Balfour, 1980-81 6 sec. - Rob Lebedick, Elliot Lake, 1989-90
Fastest Goal, Start of Second Period: 5 sec. - Paul Berthelot, Elliot Lake, 1990-91
Most Power Play Goals, One Season: 29 - Shawn Dubois, Elliot Lake, 1988-89 28 - Steve Sullivan, Timmins, 1991-92
Most Hat-tricks, One Season: 15 - Shawn Dubois, Elliot Lake, 1988-89
Team Records (League)[edit | edit source]
Most Losses, One Season: 47 - Elliot Lake, 1991-92
Fewest Wins, One Season: 1 - Elliot Lake, 1991-92
Most Goals Against Allowed, One Season: 708 - Elliot Lake, 1991-92
Most Power Play Goals Against, One Season: 136 - Haileybury, 1989-90 136 - Elliot Lake, 1991-92
Most Shorthanded Goals Against, One Season: 23 - Elliot Lake, 1990-91
NHL Alumni[edit | edit source]
- Jeremy Stevenson (Nashville Predators , Mighty Ducks of Anaheim , Minnesota Wild ,Dallas Stars)
- Chris Thorburn (Buffalo Sabres Pittsburgh Penguins Atlanta Thrashers)
Past Coaches[edit | edit source]
- Barry Johnston
- Bob Whitehead
- John Berthelot Sr.
- Norm Moore
- Al Hammerlick
- Mark Watson
- Ed Godon
- Todd Stencill
- Gord Ouimet
- Ian Mills
- Frank Porco
- Dave Berthelot
- Gill Saumure
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