Tuesday, April 30, 2013


Game Seven Outcomes-Always a Mystery!


The Belleville Bulls have been playing a little shinny in the Ontario Hockey League for more than 30 years. On his Monday morning sports news broadcast, Jack Miller noted that the team had been on the brink more than half a dozen times.


Throughout the winter, many hockey fans listen to the games on the radio, they watch the games on local cable networks, or they click on the appropriate keys to get the games via computer, world-wide. A local furniture company sponsors the web site, and those of us lingering in parts far and wide can catch all of the action.


Many of us have followed the exploits of the Dukes and the Bulls on our laptops. It certainly does not beat live action at the arena. It does require a certain amount of attention, and some imagination. Hearken back to the days of Foster Hewitt and Hockey Night in Canada on the radio, or those special moments when Jack Devine reported on the progress of the Belleville McFarlands from Prague.


Miller mentioned the 1999 edition of the Belleville Bulls, and their journey to the Memorial Cup. The playoff run began with a four game sweep of the Sudbury Wolves, outscoring the Wolves 31-12 in the process. The second round opponent was the Ottawa 67’s. The Ottawa team had little to lose, as they had an automatic berth in the Memorial Cup final as the host city.


The Bulls and the 67’s split the season series, with six wins and a pair of ties each. The 67’s were led by a young defenceman named Brian Campbell, now a perennial star in the NHL with the Florida Panthers. The Ottawa squad won the first game in double overtime, and from that point on, the Bulls took control. Justin Papineau was the first star in Game 2, and Mike Renzi netted the game winner in the third game.


Coach Lou Crawford decided to bench goalie Cory Campbell for an extra attacker in Game 4. Kevin Baker scored in the dying seconds to tie the game. Glenn Crawford scored in overtime to give the Bulls a 3-1 lead in the series. Captain Ryan Ready fired a tying goal in regulation time, and a winner in overtime to win the series. This gave the 67’s an incredible five week vacation until they had to take the ice again as they hosted the Memorial Cup.


The Bulls had to earn their way to the Cup final. They then faced the Oshawa Generals, who had come from behind to knock off the Barrie Colts. The Bulls won the series in five games to advance to the OHL final, their second in team history. The Bulls had lost to Guelph in 1986, when defenceman Steve Chiasson scored in overtime to win the series.


The London Knights provided the opposition for the Bulls in the final. Coach Crawford is quoted in Aaron Bell’s wonderful book about 25 years with the Bulls: “Our players are ready to do the job. We’re a workhorse hockey club and that will be our approach”. The Bulls were led by Justin Papineau who won the award as the most valuable player of the OHL playoffs. But it was Jon Cheechoo who provided most of the magic in the seventh and deciding game. He scored five times in the game, leading the Bulls to a 9-2 victory, and a berth in the Canadian Championship.

                                                                    Jon Cheechoo
On Monday night, the 2012-2013 edition of the Bulls faced off against the Barrie Colts with former NHL star Dale Hawerchuk behind the bench. It was also a Game Seven, “winner take all” event. To the delight of a couple of local families---the Yuills and the Halls---the Colts defeated the Bulls to advance to the final.


All the seats were taken at the Quinte Sports Centre, and there were not many places to stand and watch the game. That was good to see. There are several outstanding players returning to the Bulls next year, with great promise for another fine season.



James Hurst


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