ST. PAUL - Those who regularly attend the Clancy Richard Arena, may have noticed something new.
Hanging from the rafters of the largest arena in St. Paul is a long line of banners. Some contain the names of long-time "builders" of the St. Paul Junior Canadiens hockey club, while others honour the teams who battled hard on the ice to claim 18 championships over the years.
Of course, the arena's namesake - Clancy Richard - is among the banners, along with the likes of Pat O'Neill, whose original banner was raised during a special event in 2019. The long row filled with names of players and supporters act as a reminder to the long history of the St. Paul Canadiens - one of the longest running junior hockey clubs in the country.
"Two years ago, the Alumni Foundation set out a set of goals that have all been accomplished and could not have come together without many people involved from our corporate sponsors, community leaders and several alumni members willing to volunteer countless hours as we worked through the challenges of dealing with COVID," explains Patrick Lamoureux, president of the Alumni Foundation.
The new banners are one of many projects the foundation has undertaken. The banners help to recognize the success of the club, teams, players, builders and community spirit - dating back to 1954.
Continuing on with the tradition of making history, the first ever scholarships were presented to two current players on Saturday night. Receiving the inaugural scholarships are #19 Kyler Steinhauer-Morin and #6 Teagan Densmore.
A moment of silence was also held on Saturday night, honouring players and others involved with the club who have passed on.
"Though this franchise has had many, many great successes over the years, one thing that is very important to the alumni and the alumni brothers is to take a moment. I would ask all of you to raise (to your feet)... and take a moment of silence to remember all of our alumni brothers," said Alumni Foundation president Patrick Lamoureux, as he stood at centre ice.
A ceremonial puck drop also took place ahead of Saturday's game, with representatives from the Canadiens 1969/70 and 1970/71 championship teams in attendance.
"There were two clubs that dominated... they dominated the province, they dominated western Canada," said Lamoureux, as he introduced the representatives from the teams, including Real Labrie, Danny Smyl and Ernie Mercier.
An estimated 1,200 to 1,500 alumni have played with the Junior Canadiens over the years, with Canadiens' alumni now scattered across the globe.
Canadiens and Bisons
Following the presentations, the Canadiens and Bisons got right to work. The top-two teams in the North Eastern Alberta Jr. B Hockey League (NEAJBHL) both battled hard and came to win.
Just one night earlier, the Canadiens had travelled to the Bison's, with the home team winning the match 3-2. Saturday's game offered the St. Paul team a chance at redemption.
After taking the lead in the first period, thanks to a goal scored by Kyler Steinhauer-Morin, and assisted by Kurtis Labant and William Chemago, the Canadiens would keep pushing and ultimately win, despite a few bumps and bruises.
After a scoreless second period, the Canadiens would further their lead with a goal from Martin Lucas, and another from Tsyne Stanski, assisted by Nicolas Beaudoin and Liam Boyko. A fourth unanswered goal from the Canadiens would come from Brody Green, assisted by Domenic Morin.
But the Bisons would not go down without a fight and would score three goals of their own before the game was over, resulting in a final score of 4-3.
The third period would be a physical one, with a list of penalties handed out, and emergency crews coming out onto the ice to take a Canadiens' player off the ice.
In the end, Canadiens goalie Bradley Mistol would stop 19 of 22 shots on the night and the home team would win the heated match.
With the NEAJBHL now down to six teams, and points re-tallied following the Lac La Biche Clippers folding for the rest of the season, the Bisons remain in first place with 44 points. The Canadiens are in second place with 37 points.
Not far behind in third place is the Killam Wheat Kings with 33 points. The Vermilion Tigers are in fourth place with 23 points, and the Cold Lake Ice are in fifth place with 20 points.
The Lloydminster Bandits remain in last place, with six points.