As the Prince Rupert Rampage waved goodbye to the 2014-15 season, the senior men’s hockey team brought two recognizable faces from hockey’s past into the forefront on Friday night.
Tim “Pop” Wright and William “Bill” McChesney, two of the sport’s pioneers in the city of Prince Rupert, made their way onto the ice for a special ceremony commemorating the duo’s contributions to senior men’s hockey in the area.
A loud ovation greeted the two who were in attendance to take in the last home game of the season and the memories created by the Prince Rupert Halibut Kings, the duo’s success story, are not quickly forgotten in this town.
McChesney, the first president of the Prince Rupert Senior Hockey Association and later, the Kings of the Pacific Northwest Hockey League (PNWHL), brought his knowledge, passion of the game and work ethic to create an immediately successful on-ice product in Prince Rupert.
“It’s quite the tribute, I appreciate it,” said McChesney before being handed his plaque on Friday.
“I’ve been involved with [senior men’s hockey] a long time … we had a good team.”
In their inaugural season of 1972-73, the Kings finished second in the highly-competitive PNWHL, a testament to the recruitment and coaching of Wright, an ex-army bench boss and the first coach of the Kings.
“Oh yeah, big time,” said Wright about how great his high-level calibre teams could play at.
“We could fill the arena; it was something new … [The players were] all good guys; fun. They wanted to win, but they enjoyed the game.”
Two players that stick out in the minds of McChesney and Wright were Paul Horak and Dave Pickett.
“Paul was more of a team player,” said Wright, adding that the forward was of European descent.
Pickett was well-known for his small stature but he was extremely fast and fearless and racked up an astounding 145 goals in 100 games played. Pickett ranked fourth all-time in Kings scoring.
The skipper also fondly remembers the long road trips the boys took together.
“Going up to Whitehorse with them,” said Wright.
“The bus trips; there were some long ones.”
McChesney pointed out the duality of some RCMP members being heroes in the community, but also on the ice playing for the Kings.
“They made it even more exciting,” said the Kings’ president.
Wright’s and McChesney’s experience of gathering a team of all-stars from the Commercial Hockey League and pitting them against the region’s best eventually led to two consecutive league titles in 1974 and 1975 before the club was disbanded in the early 1980s.
The Rampage, founded in 2008, look to continue on that winning tradition now in the Central Interior Hockey League, building out from what McChesney and Wright started.