Visit to Bear tracks lifts Clouston's spirits

DON BRENNAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:13 AM ET

EDMONTON - Rick Wamsley had to do a double-take. 

First, the Senators goalie coach looked at Cory Clouston, then at the drawing of GUBA (the Great University Bear of Alberta) on the dressing room wall. 

Wamsley wondered aloud about the resemblance, and whether the mascot was purposely designed in the image of a forward who scored 33 goals and 66 assists in 115 games for the Golden Bears, circa 1989-93.

Turns out the answer is no, and that Clare Drake Arena isn’t really the House That Cory Clouston built.

No matter. That the Senators held practice there Friday did give Clouston a smile — which he hasn’t had much opportunity to do recently — and a chance to reminisce. And a break from only answering questions about why his current club is so bad.

“We had good teams,” Clouston said of his playing days in the CWUAA (Canada West Universities Athletic Association), the highest level he played. “And a really good bunch of guys. I keep in touch with a bunch of them still. This is where I started, in my mind, my foundation in coaching.

“Coach Bill Moores was really influential. We didn’t always see eye to eye, actually. We butted heads quite frequently. He taught me a lot about the things that are important in hockey. Not always about talent, it’s the work ethic, the commitment.

“He was just a good man. A hard-working individual. Commanded and demanded respect. We gave him respect because of how intelligent he was and how he handled himself around the rink.”

Teaching is what Clouston sees as a large part of his role, especially with the Senators out of playoff contention.

“I’ve got to make sure that our guys keep developing,” he said. “Give them as much experience as they can. We still try to win some hockey games. Our last two practices, the intensity was as good as it has been all season. I thought (Friday) was another great practice.

“Right now, the young guys are key part of our focus. Saying that, we still have to focus on everybody else.”

Clouston’s Bears won many games — and most they played at Clare Drake Arena.

“We won a Canada West championship here against Regina,” he said, warming to and welcoming the subject. “Back then, I think it’s still the same, we only played best-of-threes and we didn’t travel. So all three games were here and we had to do it in Game 3. Packed house, lots of fun.

“We played good games against Calgary. They were our rival. They use to have a cheer-for-beer promotion. The loudest section would get a keg of beer, then the football team would show up with a lot of fluids in them. Have some fun, sit behind the bench.”

Clouston’s best day came on the a big stage.

“We went to the nationals a couple of times, my best game was at the nationals,” he said. “The year we won the nationals, against Trois-Rivieres (in 1992), I somehow found a way to score a hat trick. 

“We just a really good group of guys,” Clouston added. “The players we had played the game because they loved the game. You are not making money here, obviously. You do get scholarships, you do get financial support.

“We did have a couple of guys who ended up making the NHL — Cory Cross and Ian Herbers were on defence that year — most of the guys understand that their NHL dreams aren’t still alive. (Those times) taught you work ethic, commitment, time management.

“The group of guys you are around every day have the same goals, morale and ethics you have.”


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