Several Wheat Kings Are Off to the Hall

brandon wheat_kings

April 18, 2013, Winnipeg, MB (ISN) –  The Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame will induct six players, seven builders and one official in the Fall of 2013. The class of 2013 was announced April 15 at a media conference held at the Canad Inns Polo Park in Winnipeg.

Among those selected were three with western Manitoba ties to the Brandon Wheat Kings. Defencemen Mike Ford and Bill Mikkelson as well as forward Vaughn Karpan.

Ford, who was a member of two World Hockey Association Avco Cup winning Winnipeg Jets teams, scored fourteen goals and 43 points in 55 games as a Wheat King in 1971-72. An eighth round draft choice of the National Hockey League’s Detroit Red Wings in 1972, Ford played in 233 games for Winnipeg, scoring 132 points including 33 goals.

Mikkelson began his career in Brandon in 1964 and over the course of the next four seasons, he played in 179 games as a Wheat King in three different leagues – the Saskatchewan Junior, the Manitoba Junior and the Western Canada Hockey League. Mikkelson went on to play 147 games in the National Hockey League with Los Angeles, the New York Islanders and Washington Capitals.

Karpan meanwhile grew up in The Pas and joined the Wheat Kings for the 1979-80 campaign. Later, he spent two seasons with the University of Manitoba before spending several years with Canada’s National Team that included playing in both the 1984 and ’88 Winter Olympic Games. Karpan, who currently serves as a professional scout for the NHL’s Montreal Canadians also wore the Maple Leaf for Team Canada at the ’85, ’86 and ’87 World Championships.

Rounding out the list of players named Monday were former Toronto Maple Leaf and Winnipeg Blue Bomber Gerry James, Bill Watson from Pine Falls and Ed Hoekstra, who will be inducted posthumously.

A former Memorial Cup Champion as a member of the Toronto Marlboros, James began his hockey playing career at Sir John Franklin Community Club in Winnipeg’s River Heights area. As a member of the University of Minnesota-Duluth, Watson won the Hobey Baker Memorial Award as the top collegiate player in the U.S. in 1985. He later played with the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks. Hoekstra was a top scorer for the Weston midgets before moving to Eastern Canada to play in St. Catherines. His professional career lasted sixteen seasons, beginning in 1958 and ending as a member of the WHA’s Houston Aeros in 1974. He died in November 2011 at the age of 74.

Two builders, Wayne Chernecki and Wayne Fleming, also will be inducted posthumously at this fall’s induction dinner. Chernecki, 63, died in Winnipeg on Feb. 11 and Fleming, 62, in Calgary on March 25. The Hall of Fame independent selection committee had made its choices for 2013 in January so Hall of Fame vice-president Don Kuryk, who chairs the committee, was able to participate in private ceremonies honouring them before their deaths. A product of Winnipeg’s North End, Chernecki was an outstanding player and leader from playground through junior hockey in Winnipeg. After a brief pro career, he turned to coaching where he had success at the bantam, midget and junior levels. Born in Snow Lake, Fleming’s coaching resume included stints at the U of M, Europe, the NHL and as an associate coach with Canada’s gold medal winning team at the 2002 Olympics.

Joining them in the Builders category will be former St. James Canucks President Tom Miller, Bruce Southern, who coached junior in the three prairie provinces and scouted for four NHL teams, Al Tresoor, whose 29 years behind the bench began in Elmwood and included provincial titles at both the juvenile and junior level as well as Ian Heather, who has been a leader in the development of officials for Hockey Manitoba and Hockey Canada.

Oak Lake’s Bob Thomson, who begain his officiating career of more than 25 years in Brandon in 1970 and attained a Level 6 credential that allowed him to work international hockey, will also be inducted – as an official.

As for the team category, the Ile des Chenes North Stars, winners of the Allan Cup emblematic of the Canadian senior hockey championship in 2003, will become that latest team to take its rightful place on the Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame Wall of Champions in the MTS Centre. This exhibit honours Olympic, international, national and professional league championship teams from our province.

The North Stars beat the Stony Plain Eagles 3-2 on Brandon resident and ex-Wheat King Kelly Glowa’s goal in double overtime to claim the first Allan Cup title for a Manitoba-based team in 39 years. That team also included Foxwarren products Pat Falloon, Craig Geekie and Chris Low. Both Geekie and Low were also former members of the WHL’s Wheat Kings.

Joining them will be the ’51 Winnipeg Monarchs and the ’72-73 St. Malo Warriors.

Tickets for the 2013 induction banquet cost $120 per person and tables for 10 are available for $1100. A charitable tax receipt is included as part of the ticket. Reception at 5 p.m., Oct. 5, with dinner at 6 p.m. Tickets can be ordered from the Hall of Fame office, 43 Dickens Dr., Winnipeg R3K 0M1, through the website: or from President Gary Cribbs, email:, phone: 204-837-4159.