The Stanley Cup. Olympic gold medals. The Memorial Cup. The Royal Bank Cup. The Calder Cup. The NCAA championship.
All of them bear the fingerprints of Saskatoon Contacts alumni. In fact, very few of hockey’s holiest grails have gone unclaimed by someone who once wore the black and orange of the midget AAA Contacts, who are this year’s host team for Telus Cup West. But when governor Jim McIntyre thinks of the Contacts’ greatest team, he doesn’t hesitate. That honour belongs to the 2005 edition that won the Telus Cup in Gatineau, Quebec.
“There’s been a lot of good players come through here,” McIntyre told the Saskatoon StarPhoenix in 2015 on the 10th anniversary of the Contacts’ only national title.. “You put them all together and I don’t think it would have been as good as (the 2005) team.”
That team, which carried a 47-9 record into the Telus Cup, included starpower such as future pros Luke Schenn, Eric Gryba and Derek Hulak as well as future WHL stars David Richard and Kyle Bortis, who were the Telus Cup’s MVP and top forward, respectively. But the strength of that team was, well, the team. Captain Cody Danberg was the glue and the spotlight touched everyone at some point, including Nick Kalnicki whose three-point performance earned him MVP honours in the Telus Cup final.
A decade later, several players remain active in the pro ranks. However, McIntyre is just as proud of the players that found successful off-ice careers. Jeremie Houde and Riley Clark, for example, are doctors. “Their lives are making a contribution to our society,” McIntyre told The StarPhoenix. “They’re better people because of it.
“They’re not all hockey players.”
TOP PHOTO: Defenceman Eric Gryba, now a member of the Edmonton Oilers, helped the Saskatoon Contacts win the 2005 Telus Cup national championship. (POSTMEDIA PHOTO)