Icing on cake for Hextall

KEN WIEBE -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:53 AM ET

This is an honour that won't ever feel hollow to Ron Hextall.

Hextall, the Brandon product who went on to have an excellent NHL career, found out this week that he will be inducted into the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame in November.

"It's obviously an honour and you appreciate things more when your career is over," Hextall said in a telephone interview from California. "I feel very fortunate to have played 15 years pro and when things like this come along, it's like icing on the cake."

Spending his formative years in Brandon and eventually playing for the Wheat Kings in the WHL was something Hextall will never forget.

"I traveled around with my dad (Bryan Jr.) and my first year in Brandon was when I was 12," said Hextall, who finished his NHL career with a regular season record of 296-214-69 in 608 games with a 2.97 goals against average and 23 shutouts. "It was imperative for my growth as a player to get back to Canada at that point. Ideally it would have been earlier, I had quite a bit of catch-up to do but that's where I caught up.

"I'm a Canadian and a Manitoban and I always will be."

At the height of Hextall's career, in 1987, the fiery netminder carried the Philadelphia Flyers to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final against Wayne Gretzky and the vaunted Edmonton Oilers.

Though the Oilers won the deciding game 3-1, Hextall went home with the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP -- which was of little consolation.

"When you don't win, you look at how close you came," said Hextall, now the assistant general manager of the Los Angeles Kings. "I'd love to play that seventh game over. I've certainly played it over in my head many times. When I look back, I do not think of the Conn Smythe. I think more about not winning Game 7 and winning Game 6. The Conn Smythe is kind of an afterthought.

"That was a special team and when I look at my fondest memories, it was that year, simply because we had a team that sacrificed everything they had and laid it all on the line every night. Those teams are very few and far between."

The 2007 class also includes athletes Dale Iwanoczko (volleyball), Angela (Johnson) Straub (basketball) and Bob Town (basketball), builders Barbara Heaps (artistic gymnastics), Gordon C. Kerr (hockey) and Larry Switzer (athletics).

In the team category, the 1996 Jeff Stoughton curling squad (lead Steve Gould, second Garry Van Den Berghe, third Ken Tresoor) that won the provincial, national and world titles and the 1968 and 1969 St. Vital Bulldogs football teams were added.

And in the veteran's category, Emile St. Godard was added for his exploits in dog sledding.

Stoughton, who is still an avid curler, said hearing about the honour brought back memories of 1996.

"The team had a great year in 1996 and to be rewarded now as one of the great Manitoba teams is quite an honour," said Stoughton. "When we were first informed of it, you think back to just how great a year that it was. We won a few bonspiels right out of the gate and things seemed to go well for us. We had a little stumble and then we hit our stride in mid-January, I guess, and it carried on right through to the worlds in March.

"I don't think you realize how well things are going until you accomplish what you set out to do. It's quite an amazing feat, with who we had to beat and how we got there. It's a blur when you're playing in it. It's an amazing feeling when you get on that kind of a roll."

The 28th annual induction dinner takes place Nov. 17 at the Victoria Inn.


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