Reeds erases bad memories of 1980 Memorial Cup

Owen Sound Attack coach Mark Reeds talks to the team while conducting the  club's practise Saturday...

Owen Sound Attack coach Mark Reeds talks to the team while conducting the club's practise Saturday April 30, 2011 at the Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre. (WILLY WATERTON/QMI Agency)

STEVE BUFFERY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:20 PM ET

Owen Sound Attack head coach Mark Reeds knows a thing or two about playing in the Memorial Cup.

Though it's his first visit as a coach, Reeds was on the Peterborough Petes team that qualified for three consecutive Memorial Cups starting in 1978. The Petes advanced to the final game in all of those tournaments, and won in 1979 -- the first and only time Peterborough has captured the Canadian junior hockey championship.

Reeds remembers bits and pieces of all those Memorial Cups, most notably how formidable the western representatives were in 1979. The Brandon Wheat Kings had only lost five of 72 regular season games that year and were led by the explosive line of Ray Allison, Brian Propp and Laurie Boschman, along with Brad McCrimmon on defence.

Brandon beat the Petes 3-2 in the final game of the round robin, but Peterborough rebounded with a 2-1 overtime win in the final on a goal scored by Bobby Attwell.

Rogers Sportsnet analyst Mike Brophy was a rookie beat reporter with the Peterborough Examiner in 1979 and remembers that there were "a million story lines" from that Petes team: future NHL all-star Larry Murphy constantly picking Gary Green's brain for hockey information on the bus trips ... The very young Green being one of the first junior coaches to implement the trap-system ... Jim Pavese's father was a New York City detective who worked on the notorious Son of Sam case ... Greg Theberge was the grandson of Hall of Famer Dit Clapper ... The Petes were one of the first junior teams to recruit a European player (Anssi Melametsa of Finland recorded 30 points in 64 games that season).

As for Reeds, Brophy remembers the Toronto native as one the fastest players on the team and, though not particularly big, one of the hardest body checkers.

"I've never seen anybody explode into a body check the way Mark Reeds did," said Brophy. "The opposing defencemen used to get their shots away as soon as possible when they saw him coming."

Brophy said Reeds never struck him as a player who would go on to coach because he was kind of a laid back and shy individual.

"Maybe that was an indication that I didn't know him as well as I thought I did," Brophy said.

Reeds has certainly proved his worth as a coach. Since retiring as a player in 1993, he made two trips to the Colonial Cup finals as coach of the UHL Kalamazoo Wings, winning in 2006. And he guided the Attack to the OHL playoff title this season, earning OHL coach of the year honours.

The Attack are 1-1 at the Memorial Cup this week, and play their OHL arch-rivals, Mississauga St. Michael's, on Wednesday night in the round-robin finale.

Reeds' memories of Peterborough's three Memorial Cup appearances from three decades ago are pretty sporadic, though he remembers Attwell scoring the winner in 1979 and how they thought they were the team to beat in 1980, but lost to the Dale Hawerchuk-led Cornwall Royals, 3-2, in the final on an overtime goal scored by Robert Savard.

After that, he doesn't have much to say about the 1980 tournament, one of the most controversial Memorial Cups ever.

Heading into the last game of the round-robin in 1980, the Petes had already clinched first place. A win over Cornwall in that game would have put them against a tough Regina squad in the Memorial Cup final, which was being played at the Pats' home rink, the Regina Agridome.

But Peterborough lost to Cornwall in the round-robin finale, setting up a rematch in the final between the two Ontario teams. Many observers at the final round-robin game believe strongly that the Petes threw the contest, including Brophy. As the game ended, the Agridome crowd took out its frustrations on the Peterborough team, raining boos and bottles and other more interesting projectiles down on to the players.

"I remember a live chicken hit (Peterborough forward) Billy Gardner in the shoulder," recalled Brophy. "During all this, I approached a cop and asked if he was going to do anything and he told me to shut up, or he'll arrest me."

Brophy wrote the game up as he saw it and as a result became "one of the most hated guys in Peterborough". In fact, he remembers getting off a bus to attend a banquet after the team returned home and "two old ladies walked up to me and hit me with their purses."

"I was like a leper after that," he said.

Time has erased most of the bad memories of that game. And for Reeds, a Memorial Cup win by his Attack this week at the Hershey Centre would certainly make the events of 1980 even more of a distant memory.

steve.buffery@sunmedia.ca

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