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View Full Version : OT - 40th Anniversary of Gonzaga University hockey championship (1st since the '30's)



GoZags
03-27-2014, 11:50 AM
Will keep here for a short while before rolling this to Schomburg Hall.

This week 40 years ago saw the GU Bulldog Hockey Team win the school's first Hockey Championship since the 1930's. The Spokesman Review called the Zag's run "amazing", as Gonzaga went from dead last in the regular season standings to SSL Champs with a miracle 6-0 record in the playoffs, culminating with Team Captain David Kusler's empty net goal to preserve victory in a wild Championship final game (where Gonzaga came back from being down 5-1). The Zags finished the '73/'74 season 21-22-1 but hoisted the Spokane Senior League Championship Trophy.

http://i925.photobucket.com/albums/ad93/tbkd1/BjvQnGrCQAAOUwP_zpsc313731f.jpg (http://s925.photobucket.com/user/tbkd1/media/BjvQnGrCQAAOUwP_zpsc313731f.jpg.html)
Team pic .... my Freshman year at Gonzaga. We started the season 0-8-1 and were 3-16-1 at Christmas break. We got hot and ended the '73/'74 season on a roll. Great memories with great teammates.

http://i925.photobucket.com/albums/ad93/tbkd1/BjvealmCEAAkqwZ_zpsf3e8c79b.jpg (http://s925.photobucket.com/user/tbkd1/media/BjvealmCEAAkqwZ_zpsf3e8c79b.jpg.html)

gonzagafan62
03-27-2014, 11:53 AM
Thanks for sharing! This I had no clue about. These articles and stories are about as cool as our Boxing National Championship! Again, Thanks for sharing!

GoZags
03-27-2014, 11:54 AM
We got to keep our jerseys after we won the Title. There are GU Boardmembers who periodically see me at "big" GU basketball games wearing my "good luck" jersey .... which at times may appear a bit "snug". The pic above proves what I've always said .... at one time, before washing machine "shrinkage" the jersey fit loosely over pads. That's no longer the case (and to be honest, it's probably more to do with the +40 lbs than any washing machine).

77Zag
03-27-2014, 11:59 AM
It's throw back Thursday - good post. I don't know a Kevin??

Vanzagger
03-27-2014, 12:06 PM
Nice job GoZags!

GoZags
03-27-2014, 12:08 PM
It's throw back Thursday - good post. I don't know a Kevin??

This made my FB this morning, '77 as it is TBT (and the 40 year Anniversary). FWIW I think it was part of Freshman hazing that they'd never get the freshmen's names correct. Found this clip from the playoffs in the same box as the others .... at least the S. R. got it correct.

http://i925.photobucket.com/albums/ad93/tbkd1/c6a194ec-a537-4ab7-9d0d-400079e4f102_zps4d05502c.jpg (http://s925.photobucket.com/user/tbkd1/media/c6a194ec-a537-4ab7-9d0d-400079e4f102_zps4d05502c.jpg.html)

cjm720
03-27-2014, 12:22 PM
Congrats!

75Zag
03-27-2014, 01:29 PM
I was there. As I recall and my memory could be bad, we had a guy who played semi-pro before enrolling at GU. He had no front teeth but drank like a fish. And by fish I mean me.

Go Hockey.

Go Bulldogs.

ZagMan in Philly
03-27-2014, 01:33 PM
Did I read it right?
It was an empty net winning shot in a 5-5 game?
Anyhow, congrats.

GoZags
03-27-2014, 02:26 PM
Did I read it right?
It was an empty net winning shot in a 5-5 game?
Anyhow, congrats.

Zags were down 5-1. Tied it at 8 mid way through the 3rd period and took the lead 9-8 with about 2 minutes left. Those 2 minutes was a swarm around our goal and with about 30 seconds left we were able to clear the puck out of our zone (a HUGE relief to me) and it went in the empty net to clinch the final game 10-8.

Edited to add .... the short clip on the 6-5 game was in an earlier playoff game. FWIW I found the clip after the Final game and will add it here.... my memory was pretty close but I'd forgotten we were down 2 with 7 minutes left and scored 4 goals in those 7 minutes (including the empty netter).

http://i925.photobucket.com/albums/ad93/tbkd1/Bj0VysvCEAILdET_zps995e78d0.jpg (http://s925.photobucket.com/user/tbkd1/media/Bj0VysvCEAILdET_zps995e78d0.jpg.html)

GoZags
03-27-2014, 03:35 PM
I was there. As I recall and my memory could be bad, we had a guy who played semi-pro before enrolling at GU. He had no front teeth but drank like a fish. And by fish I mean me.

Go Hockey.

Go Bulldogs.

Our guys either had pretty good teeth (or pretty good fake ones). There were a handful of former NHLers in the Spokane Senior League ... a couple of those guys were a bit lacking in the "teeth" department.

HillBillyZag
03-27-2014, 07:48 PM
If Gonzaga decided to field a NCAA Div.I Ice Hockey Team, it would not please the Chiefs management. Western Collegiate Hockey Association would likely welcome Gonzaga. The University of Alaska Fairbanks, Alaska Anchorage, Denver University, and Colorado College are the closest present members. WCHA schools play in Arenas seating from 2500 to 5500. Spokane is a good hockey Town and with sufficient seed money and proper publicity a Gonzaga Hockey Team would shortly be self sufficient, even profitable?

StocktonZag
03-27-2014, 09:24 PM
Wow, Craig Sparrow, a blast from the past. He had great stories about riding the rails at spring break to his Canadian home. Wonder what ever became of him. Remember the surgery he had. One too many blows below the waist. (I had the same surgery years later.) And I had completely forgotten Mike Fox wore the jersey. NICE!!
For basketball games at the Coliseum (usually vs UW or WSU) they would lay the hardwood right on top of the ice. It was 'cool' playing baskeball on that floor, and us 'bench warmers' had a hard time getting a hot hand. And the dead spots on the floor made for some interesting dribbling.

TexasZagFan
03-28-2014, 04:25 AM
Zags were down 5-1. Tied it at 8 mid way through the 3rd period and took the lead 9-8 with about 2 minutes left. Those 2 minutes was a swarm around our goal and with about 30 seconds left we were able to clear the puck out of our zone (a HUGE relief to me) and it went in the empty net to clinch the final game 10-8.

Thanks for the memories. I was there, but destroyed too many brain cells in the victory party on 3rd floor DeSmet. Four years at Gonzaga prepared me very well for life in Germany after graduation.

TexasZagFan
03-28-2014, 04:28 AM
This made my FB this morning, '77 as it is TBT (and the 40 year Anniversary). FWIW I think it was part of Freshman hazing that they'd never get the freshmen's names correct. Found this clip from the playoffs in the same box as the others .... at least the S. R. got it correct.

http://i925.photobucket.com/albums/ad93/tbkd1/c6a194ec-a537-4ab7-9d0d-400079e4f102_zps4d05502c.jpg (http://s925.photobucket.com/user/tbkd1/media/c6a194ec-a537-4ab7-9d0d-400079e4f102_zps4d05502c.jpg.html)

58 saves...would've made ESPN's Top 10...alas, ESPN was not yet on the scene. Given their scramble for programming in the early years, Zag hockey would've been great filler for them.

CanadZag
03-28-2014, 07:42 AM
Very cool to see this up here.

Gonzaga has a very rich hockey history, with Frank McCool being perhaps one of the most famous hockey alums. McCool was a goaltender who played three seasons with Gonzaga before going on to play for the Toronto Maple Leafs, where he won NHL Rookie of the Year honours and also led the Leafs to the Stanley Cup in 1945.

I recently have had the privilege of playing for Gonzaga’s hockey team (graduating in 2011). For those unfamiliar with the program, they do compete at the club level in the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA), and are in division II in that league. There are no formal conferences, and teams are required to come up with their own schedules, so Gonzaga plays teams ranging from UW and Wazzu to Stanford and Boise State to even WCC rivals Santa Clara and LMU.

There are many challenges to the team, as, at least speaking for the years I was on the team, they seemed to be at odds with Student Activities and were having trouble with support (funding and otherwise). Players were and are required to pay-out-of-pocket for many of the expenses, they have a coach who volunteers his time, and the team often gets last pick at available ice at Eagles Ice Arena (meaning a lot of really late games and practices). Fellow students on campus were always surprised to hear there was a hockey team and seemed not to be all too interested in hockey at all. For as violent a sport as hockey is, there is no access to athletic therapists or even academically, to tutors, or such advantages that athletes of other sports on campus may have. Injuries very often deplete the roster as the season moves along.

For me, it was an interesting dynamic to come from Canada to Spokane. It’s almost like the passions for Basketball and Hockey were completely reversed. Spokane is crazy about their basketball similar to Canadians and their hockey, and any sport other than the primary one, while appreciated by some, definitely takes a back seat.

I know there were and are ongoing efforts to raise the visibility of the hockey program at the school in recent years, and they may have had some success in that in some ways, including playing an outdoor game against Wazzu in downtown Spokane the past couple of years.

There really are some fine, hard-working student-athletes on the campus (other club sports included) that don’t happen to be on the varsity teams, but who go out and represent the university proudly in ways that often go unnoticed. And not only are they just good athletes but exceptional students in the classroom as well.

I will say that I wouldn’t trade my experience with Gonzaga hockey for anything and going through the battles and adversity with that group of guys has left me with a lot of great friendships and memories that will last a lifetime. It just would have been nice to feel a little more support from the external community during our experience.

In my eyes the current state of the hockey program is striving more for survival than for actual growth. There would be so many barriers at this point in time to even think about putting together a Division I hockey program at Gonzaga, but it is nice to appreciate the success it had in the past.

Thanks for sharing,

Go Zags!

HillBillyZag
03-28-2014, 02:50 PM
CanadZag, who would draw the bigger crowd at Spokane Arena? The Chiefs vs Tri-Cities?, or Gonzaga vs Denver? I'm not a die hard hockey guy, but I'd spend my entertainment dollars on the latter.