Kamloops, B.C. – It’s been nearly three decades since the Memorial Cup was hosted in Kamloops, but come May 2023, the Canadian Hockey League’s national championship will return to the B.C. Interior.
Junior hockey fans in Kamloops are accustomed to greatness, having been witness to six WHL Championships and three Memorial Cup titles.
In anticipation of the 2023 Memorial Cup presented by Kia coming to Kamloops, let’s turn back the clock and take a look back on the greatness that is already etched into Blazers history.
1983-84: Kamloops Jr. Oilers win WHL Championship
The 1984 WHL Championship represents one of the most memorable in WHL history, with the Jr. Oilers erasing a 3-2 series deficit to defeat the Regina Pats in seven games. Trailing 3-2 late in Game 6, captain Dean Evason scored with 12 seconds remaining in regulation to force overtime before rookie Ryan Stewart registered the game-winning goal 13:13 into the extra period, pushing the series to a seventh and deciding game.
In Game 7, Stewart once again played the hero, registering the game-winning tally as the Jr. Oilers doubled up the Pats by a 4-2 margin to win the WHL Championship and earn a berth into the Memorial Cup.
Notable Players: Dean Evason, Doug Bodger, Rob Brown, Jim Cammazola, Dean Clark, Robin Bawa, Gord Mark, Mark Ferner, Ken Daneyko, Greg Hawgood, Mark Kachowski, Rudy Poeschek, Daryl Reaugh, Ryan Stewart
1984-85: Jr. Oilers become Blazers; appear in second consecutive WHL Championship
Between the 1983-84 and 1984-85 seasons, the previous ownership group sold the Kamloops Jr. Oilers to a community foundation in town that renamed the Club the Blazers.
Ken Hitchcock became Head Coach of the Club and guided the Blazers to a regular season record of 52-17-2, before advancing to the WHL Championship for the second straight year.
Ultimately, the Blazers fell to the Prince Albert Raiders in a four-game sweep, but the second straight appearance in the WHL Championship was a sign of things to come.
1985-86: Blazers win franchise’s second WHL Championship
After another strong regular season performance that saw the Blazers go 49-19-4 with 17-year-old Rob Brown leading the WHL in scoring with 173 points.
The 1986 WHL Championship featured the Blazers knocking off the Medicine Hat Tigers in five games to win a second WHL Championship for Kamloops. The Blazers made the Club’s second appearance in the Memorial Cup, but ultimately fell short of hoisting the national trophy.
Notable Players: Rob Brown, Greg Hawgood, Mark Kachowski, Robin Bawa, Ron Shudra, Craig Berube, Ryan Stewart, Rudy Poeschek, Dave Marcinyshyn, Rob DiMaio
1989-90: Blazers win third WHL Championship
Once again, the Blazers registered an impressive regular season, going 56-16-0 en route to defeating the Lethbridge Hurricanes in five games to win the WHL Championship. With a WHL crown secured, the Blazers booked their third Memorial Cup appearance in seven years.
Notable Players: Dave Chyzowski, Mike Needham, Zac Boyer, Darryl Sydor, Paul Kruse, Corey Hirsch, Len Barrie, Scott Niedermayer, Trevor Sim, Dean Malkoc
1991-92: Blazers win first Memorial Cup title
Bolstered by the return of defenceman Scott Niedermayer (New Jersey Devils) and Darryl Sydor (Los Angeles Kings) from the NHL, the Blazers once again racked up more than 50 wins in the regular season, going 51-17-4.
It took seven games, but the Blazers knocked off the Saskatoon Blades to win the Club’s four WHL Championship since 1984.
Making their fourth appearance in the Memorial Cup, the Blazers finally tasted national glory as Zac Boyer scored the game-winning goal with 14.6 seconds remaining in regulation of the championship game to give Kamloops a 5-4 victory over the Soo Greyhounds.
Notable Players: Zac Boyer, Darryl Sydor, Corey Hirsch, Scott Niedermayer, Ed Patterson, Jarrett Deuling, Tyson Nash, Scott Ferguson, David Wilkie, Darcy Tucker, Ryan Huska, Chris Murray
1993-94: Blazers win second Memorial Cup title
Buoyed by the news that they were set to host the 1995 Memorial Cup, the Blazers register yet another 50-win regular season, going 50-16-6.
For the second time since 1992, the Blazers advanced to the WHL Championship and faced off against the Saskatoon Blades. And once again, it was the Blazers defeating the Blades to earn Kamloops its fifth WHL Championship.
For the fifth time, the Blazers were ready to appear in the Memorial Cup, this time in search of the franchise’s second national championship.
Led by Memorial Cup MVP Darcy Tucker, the Blazers defeated the host Laval Titan by a 5-3 margin to claim Kamloops’ second Memorial Cup.
Notable Players: Jarrett Deuling, Tyson Nash, Scott Ferguson, David Wilkie, Darcy Tucker, Ryan Huska, Chris Murray, Hnat Domenichelli, Shane Doan, Nolan Baumgartner, Steve Passmore, Brad Lukowich, Jason Holland, Jarome Iginla, Jason Strudwick, Cam Severson
1994-95: Blazers host first, win third Memorial Cup
Arguably one of the greatest junior hockey teams to ever grace Western Hockey League and CHL ice, the 1994-95 Kamloops Blazers boasted the likes of Jarome Iginla, Shane Doan, Darcy Tucker, Tyson Nash, Hnat Domenichelli, Brad Lukowich, and Jason Strudwick, among others.
From start to finish of the 1994-95 season, the Blazers were ranked as the No. 1 team in the entire CHL, finishing the campaign with a record of 52-14-6.
Advancing to the WHL Championship after erasing the Portland Winterhawks and Tri-City Americans, the Blazers faced the Brandon Wheat Kings in the WHL Championship.
After falling behind 2-0, the Blazers headed east to Brandon and won three straight games to take a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series. Returning to Kamloops, the Blazers took care of business in Game 6 to topple the Wheat Kings and win a sixth WHL Championship.
The 1995 Memorial Cup in Kamloops was a great success for the Blazers, both on and off the ice. After going 3-0 during the round robin, the Blazers earned a bye to the Memorial Cup final where they laid the boots to the Detroit Jr. Red Wings, trouncing the OHL representative 8-2 to win the title.
Shane Doan was named Memorial Cup MVP and Jarome Iginla was named the Most Sportsmanlike Player of the tournament. Each of Doan, Darcy Tucker, and Nolan Baumgartner were named to the Memorial Cup All-Star team.
Notable Players: Tyson Nash, Darcy Tucker, Ryan Huska, Hnat Domenichelli, Shane Doan, Nolan Baumgartner, Brad Lukowich, Jason Holland, Jarome Iginla, Jason Strudwick, Cam Severson, Rob Skrlac
2021-22: Blazers continue pursuit for seventh WHL Championship
With five games of the WHL Western Conference Championship in the books, the Kamloops Blazers are on the brink of advancing to the 2022 WHL Championship Series, following a thrilling 4-3 overtime triumph that gave them a commanding 3-2 series lead over the Seattle Thunderbirds.
Led by hometown product Logan Stankoven, a prospect of the Dallas Stars, the Blazers are built for success this season and next.
For more information on the Memorial Cup, visit chlmemorialcup.ca.