Photo by Don Fennell
The mission was simple enough, but not so easily executed.
After contending for Pacific Junior Hockey League supremacy through most of the 2017-18 season, the Richmond Sockeyes succumbed to an injury bug and some tough luck in the playoffs. But a heart-wrenching series loss to the Delta Ice Hawks had a silver lining, affording the hosts of the provincial Junior B hockey championships a reprieve. The time off allowed the Sockeyes to heal and refocus, and to engineer what became known as the 29 day journey to the Cyclone Taylor Cup title.
Sunday at the Steveston Built Local Taphouse Grill, the Sockeyes became members of a special ring of honour. Players and team personnel were all presented with rings to commemorate their historic season.
Maurice Lambert, one of the team owners along with Doug and Ron Paterson, Barry Watson and Bruce Mathers, designed the impressive rings which feature six stones—representing the six Cyclone Taylor Cup titles the team has won.
The player rings also include each player’s name and uniform number, the team record, and the Sockeyes’ logo.
Lambert’s involvement with the Sockeyes dates back to the 1980s, when then-owner Al Brew came into his law office one day announcing his plans to purchase the club, at the time a member of the B.C. Hockey League. Upon moving to the team to Chilliwack in 1989, Brew then sold the team to local businessman Romeo Bon, who took the team into the West Coast Junior Hockey League that season. Bon owned the Sockeyes when the club won its first Cyclone Taylor Cup in 1992, signified on the ring by a black stone. Two white stones denote titles in 2003 and 2004 won under the ownership of Bev and Ken Kirby, and three red stones reflect the championships in 2009, 2013 and 2018 under the current ownership.
“The rings are your own personal trophy,” Lambert, who coached the Sockeyes to the 1992 title, told the players. “You earned them. Wear them proudly. And remember, ‘Once a Sockeye, Always a Sockeye.’”
Brett Reusch, himself a former Sockeyes player, coached the team to last season’s Cyclone Taylor Cup title in his first year at the helm after taking the reins from Steve Robinson. One of his assistants was his uncle, Ron Paterson, and one of the players his cousin and Ron’s son Ty.
“I never coached a team like this,” Reusch reiterated Sunday.
He also recalled with amazement the team’s ability to bounce back—more than once. Four times during the season the Sockeyes trailed by three goals going into the third period and emerged victorious. So even after they gave up an early opening goal in the championship game in the Cyclone Taylor Cup tournament, Reusch had no doubt they’d overcome that too.
“I didn’t have to say much, I saw it in the eyes (of the players) that this was our day,” he shared.