Kamloops has long been one of this provinces great sports towns, the tournament capital of BC. And in the 1990’s nothing was bigger in Kamloops than the Blazers, a certifiable hockey factory churning out more bona fide NHLers than any city or town on the continent. 1994-95 may have been the peak, when arguably the greatest team in junior hockey history put together a season for the ages.
Coming into the 1994-95 season, the Blazers were riding high as reigning Memorial Cup champions. Assembled by general manager Bob Brown and coached by Don Hay, the collection of players put on the ice that season reads like an NHL who’s who. Captain Darcy Tucker finished second in Western Hockey League scoring with 64 goals and 73 assists for 137 points. Hnat Domenichelli contributed an impressive 114 points. Shane Doan was emerging as a superstar. A young Jarome Iginla showed early signs of becoming one as well. Tyson Nash pestered opponents with energized grit. Aaron Keller, Jason Strudwick, Brad Lukowich, and Nolan Baumgartner anchored the defense. Rod Branch provided solid goaltending.

BTO’s ‘Takin’ Care of Business’ was the Blazers’ goal song — “they played that song a lot that year”, chuckled Nash—and opponents cringe today that that song still gives them nightmares. The Blazers compiled an impressive 52-14-6 regular season record to finish top of the WHL for the seventh time in 12 seasons and were ranked #1 in Canada all season as well. Their WHL West Division title marked the club’s tenth in 12 years. The Blazers scored 375 goals and gave up only 202 in 72 regular season games—both tops in the WHL. No surprise, Kamloops’ Riverside Coliseum was packed with over 5,000 crazed fans and rocking every night.

Although the Blazers had a free pass to the Memorial Cup tournament that year as Kamloops was hosting, they refused to coast and were determined to earn it. They rolled over Portland, Tri-City, and Brandon in the playoffs to claim the WHLChampionship, Kamloops’ sixth WHL crown in 12 years.

In the Memorial Cup tournament, the Blazers cruised to a perfect 3-0 round-robin record to advance straight to the final against the Detroit Junior Red Wings. There, Doan, Tucker, and company simply turned it on and manhandled Detroit 8-2 to claim the Blazers second-straight Memorial Cup and third in four seasons. “We just ran them out of the building”, recalled Nash. “We were not going to be denied.”

Doan won the Stafford Smythe Memorial Trophy as tournament MVP, while Iginla was awarded the George Parsons Trophy as most sportsmanlike player. Doan, Tucker, and Baumgartner were all named to the tournament all-star team.

Team Members: Jeff Ainsworth, Jeff Antonovich, Terry Bangen (assistant coach), Nolan Baumgartner, Rod Branch, Bob Brown (general manager), Ashley Buckberger, Ed Dempsey (assistant coach), Shane Doan, Hnat Domenichelli, Pete Friedel (assistant trainer), Greg Hart, Don Hay (head coach), Brian Henderson (assistant coach), Jason Holland, Ryan Huska, Jarome Iginla, Jeff Jubenville, Aaron Keller, Donnie Kinney, Brad Lukowich, Stu MacGregor (assistant general manager), Bob Maudie, Keith McCambridge, Kevin McDonald, Shawn McNeil, Tyson Nash, Jeff Oldenborger, Randy Petruk, Rob Skrlac, Jason Strudwick, Darcy Tucker, Ivan Vologianinov, Greg ‘Spike’ Wallace (trainer), Bob Westerby.

Written and researched by Jason Beck, Curator of the BC Sports Hall of Fame.