PuPs of 2020 ShOuLd ReAd ThIs

 As the City and Soo Greyhounds organization gets ready to submit a bid to host next year’s Memorial Cup, I decided to have a chat with Mark Matier. Mark as you know, was a piece of the puzzle that came together in 1993 by winning that much sought after prize. As a defenceman for the Greyhounds during the run, Mark not only helped hold the fort, he also contributed with five points.

I asked Mark the following questions:

As a young man in 1993, what were your first thoughts when you were told that indeed, the Soo was going to host the Memorial Cup and that you will have home-ice advantage and your fans behind you?

“Going into the Super Series we knew the importance of winning in order for us to host the Memorial Cup. We had a core group that had experienced two previous Memorial Cups and we were not letting this one slip away. I think losing in Seattle the previous year, and how we were so close really fueled our season. We knew if we could just get it back to the Gardens we would not be beat. We made the Gardens a tough rink to play in and with our fan support we knew it would be tough for any team to come to the Soo and beat us.”

What is the most memorable part of that tournament that you can recall; whether it was winning it, or some other memory that stands out?

“A couple of things really come to mind as far as memories go. I remember getting dressed before the game, and the dressing room had a calm, quiet confidence. It just seemed like we all knew there was no way we were losing. Before warmups, we could hear the fans chanting and you could feel the building shaking. I remember walking out of the dressing room for the warmups and thinking that in a couple of hours, we were finally going to be Memorial Cup Champions !! After the game, I also remember Kevin Hodson and myself running over to the Timeout Bar with our jerseys on and the place went crazy! A quick large pint was followed by the best Zamboni ride a hockey player could ever imagine.”

Describe the buzz that you can recall that ran not only through the team and dressing room, but the city as a whole.

“The entire city seemed to really rally behind us and there certainly was a buzz throughout the Soo. If you were to ask any OHL player in the early ’90s what was their least favourite rink to play in, most, if not all would say the Memorial Gardens in the Soo. Our fans played a major role in us winning so many games from 90-93 and they certainly helped us finally win the Memorial Cup.”

What were your thoughts when you heard that the Hounds organization has decided to bid for next year’s Mem Cup? Describe your thoughts on the way the team has been run as an organization over the tenure of the two Kyles …Dubas and Raftis.

“I was excited when I was told that the Greyhounds were putting a bid in to host the Memorial Cup. Obviously, it brings back many great memories of our Memorial Cup win in 1993. The Hounds, under Kyle Dubas, were able to create a winning culture that has seemed to spill over into the Raftis years. I think both Dubas and Raftis have been successful in getting the right players in order to be competitive year in and year out and the expectation every year is to win the OHL Championship.

Realistically, the Soo is a smaller market than Oshawa which is also bidding to host the tournament. They have also bid twice previously and have not succeeded. What would be something that you would highlight about Sault Ste Marie and the Hounds organization that you think other cities bidding can’t compete with if you were on the submission committee?

“I believe this is an opportunity for the Canadian Hockey League to get back to the grassroots level of hockey and host a Memorial Cup in a smaller market. What better place than Sault Ste. Marie? I really think having the Cup in a smaller market has its advantages. Just looking at accommodations, the Soo has several excellent hotels that are walking distance from the GFL Memorial Gardens. The Soo does not have the headache of traffic jams on the 401 for instance. Fans from all over the CHL would certainly enjoy the many restaurants and tourist attractions that we are fortunate enough to have in the Soo and surrounding area. As well, we can’t forget the rich history of the hockey and the many former Greyhounds that have come from Sault Ste. Marie, or the many that have made the Soo their home. This is a Hockey town that has hosted and won a Memorial Cup in the past and I hope that we get to see another Memorial Cup in Sault Ste. Marie.”

In the next month or so, we will know if the deciding committee puts us on the shortlist. The host city will be announced at this year’s Memorial Cup. I wrote a similar article with the same questions for Hockey News North where I spoke with another member of that dream team of 93, goaltender Kevin Hodson.

Speaking with these two gentlemen brought back memories for me as well. I think it is time for the Hounds organization to reconnect with their Alumni which brought this city so much joy over the years. It is easy to focus on the current team, but we should always remember the players of the past which have given this organization its success and great reputation.

Keeping our paws crossed.

Go Hounds Go

Ernest Skinner