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The Opaskwayak Cree Nation (OCN) Blizzard are a junior "A" ice hockey team from Opaskwayak/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 was owned by the Opaskwayak Cree Nation, now sold to two local businessmen and brothers Salman Safdar Dhillon and Usman Tahir Dhillon. Dhillon brothers saved the team from shutting down and relocation to any other community.

OCN Blizzard
OCN Blizzard.png
CityThe Pas, Manitoba
LeagueManitoba Junior Hockey League
Founded1996
Home arenaGordon Lathlin Memorial Centre
ColoursBlue, Red, White
General managerGreg Hunter (2018-2019)
Head coachRyan Woods & Chris Perchaluk (2018-2019)

Contents

HistoryEdit

The Blizzard were founded in 1996 by the Opaskwayak Cree Nation near The Pas, Manitoba. 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 the 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 Cups as MJHL playoff champions. In 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. When they won the Anavet Cup in 2002, it 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, they defeated the British Columbia Hockey League's Chilliwack Chiefs 4–3, but lost in the national final to the Halifax Exports 3–1.

Blizzard games are broadcast on local radio station CJAR 102.9 (CJAR-FM) and can also be heard online at www.thepasonline.com. Marty Martinson is the current play-by-play announcer.[when?] Past announcers include Kurtis "Huddy" Hudson, Evan Hammond, Kris Menard, Jamie Smalley and Bradley Karp.[citation needed]

In December 2016, the Opaskwayak Cree Nation council declared its intention to cease the team's operations following the 2016–17 season. The MJHL is currently exploring other options to save the franchise, which would include finding a new ownership group.[1] The Blizzards' board of directors were later granted permission to operate the team for another season, but without funding from the band council. In2018, few 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. Further, that sale was brought before MJHL board of governors and after meeting few more conditions final sale was approved.[2]

List of championshipsEdit

Championship Years won
Turnbull Cup 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003
ANAVET Cup 2002

Season-by-season recordEdit

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

Season GP W L T OTL GF GA Pts Finish Playoffs
1996–97 55 32 18 4 1 274 228 69 2nd MJHL Lost final
1997–98 61 42 18 1 0 285 202 85 2nd MJHL Lost semi-final
1998–99 62 53 7 1 1 401 149 108 1st MJHL Won league
1999–00 64 44 16 4 305 194 92 1st MJHL Won league
2000–01 64 50 10 4 334 192 104 1st MJHL Won league
2001–02 64 56 6 3 379 149 115 1st MJHL Won league, won ANAVET Cup
2002–03 63 54 8 1 380 160 109 1st MJHL Won league
2003–04 64 46 10 8 355 177 100 1st MJHL Lost quarter-final
2004–05 63 29 22 12 221 221 70 5th MJHL Lost quarter-final
2005–06 63 37 17 9 232 181 83 2nd MJHL Lost final
2006–07 63 16 35 12 223 281 44 10th MJHL Did not qualify
2007–08 62 22 36 4 204 272 48 9th MJHL Did not qualify
2008–09 62 32 22 8 214 211 72 5th MJHL Lost quarter-final
2009–10 62 24 30 8 181 202 56 9th MJHL Did not qualify
2010–11 62 34 18 10 182 164 78 5th MJHL Lost quarter-final
2011–12 61 31 23 7 176 183 69 7th MJHL Lost semi-final
2012–13 60 39 16 5 226 193 83 3rd MJHL Lost semi-final
2013–14 60 21 34 5 171 235 47 8th MJHL Lost quarter-final
2014–15 60 20 35 5 167 203 45 10th MJHL Lost survivor series
2015–16 60 27 30 3 185 214 57 6th MJHL Lost quarter-final
2016–17 60 39 17 4 200 153 82 3rd MJHL Lost final
2017–18 60 32 20 8 209 192 72 4th MJHL Lost quarter-final
2018–19 60 18 40 2 153 258 38 10th MJHL DNQ

PlayoffsEdit

  • 1997 Lost Final
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
  • 1998 Lost Semi-final
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-none MJHL 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-1 MJHL 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-none MJHL 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-none MJHL CHAMPIONS
OCN Blizzard defeated Kindersley Klippers (SJHL) 4-games-to-1 ANAVET 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-none MJHL CHAMPIONS
Humboldt Broncos (SJHL) defeated OCN Blizzard 4-games-to-1
  • 2004 Lost Quarter-final
Portage Terriers defeated OCN Blizzard 4-games-to-none
  • 2005 Lost Quarter-final
Portage Terriers defeated OCN Blizzard 4-games-to-2
  • 2006 Lost Final
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
  • 2007 DNQ
  • 2008 DNQ
  • 2009 Lost Quarter-final
Dauphin Kings defeated OCN Blizzard 4-games-to-2
  • 2010 DNQ
  • 2011 Lost Quarter-final
Dauphin Kings defeated OCN Blizzard 4-games-to-3
  • 2012 Lost Semi-final
OCN Blizzard defeated Swan Valley Stampeders 4-games-to-2
Winnipeg Saints defeated OCN Blizzard 4-games-to-2
  • 2013 Lost Semi-final
OCN Blizzard defeated Swan Valley Stampeders 4-games-to-1
Dauphin Kings defeated OCN Blizzard 4-games-to-3
  • 2014 Lost Quarter-final
OCN Blizzard defeated Waywayseecappo Wolverines 2-games-to-1
Dauphin Kings defeated OCN Blizzard 4-games-to-0
  • 2015 Lost Survivor Series
Selkirk Steelers defeated OCN Blizzard 2-games-to-0
  • 2016 Lost Quarter-final
Winkler Flyers defeated OCN Blizzard 4-games-to-1
  • 2017 Lost Final
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
  • 2018 Lost Quarter-final
Winkler Flyers defeated OCN Blizzard 4-games-to-2
  • 2019 DNQ

Retired numbersEdit

  • #18 Cliff Duschesne
  • #22 Terence Tootoo[1]

Notable alumniEdit

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.

Name Team
Jordin Tootoo Chicago Blackhawks NHL
Steve MacIntyre Edmonton Oilers NHL
Jon Mirasty Syracuse Crunch AHL / Vityaz Chekov KHL
Konrad McKay Bridgeport Sound Tigers AHL
Ryan Constant Hartford Wolfpack AHL
Dale Warkentin Bakersfield Condors ECHL
Andrew Gallant Elmira Jackals ECHL
Charles Lachance Tulsa Oilers ECHL
Chris Murphy Greenville Grrrowl ECHL
Darcy Johnson Long Beach Ice Dogs ECHL
Derek Ernest Wheeling Nailers ECHL
Jamie Muswagon Wheeling Nailers ECHL
Josh Elmes Rapid City Rush ECHL
Kristjan Jefkins Victoria Salmon Kings ECHL / Amstel Tijgers Netherlands
Mike Gooch Wheeling Nailers ECHL
Mike Ouellet Long Beach Ice Dogs ECHL / VisbyRoma Sweden1
Russell Spence Greenville Grrrowl ECHL/ RT Bad Nauheim Germany3
Ryan Person Greenville Grrrowl ECHL
Terence Tootoo Roanoke Express ECHL
Wally Wuttunee Wheeling Nailers ECHL

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

External linksEdit