You need to know this. Powell River is a machine. A maker of champions. A little hamlet that churns out athletes the way Toyota churns out automobiles.
Some of the country’s best come from here. Soccer’s Drew Ferguson, who captained Canada’s national team, kicked balls in the professional ranks in Canada, the United States and England, and played alongside legendary players such as Pele and George Best. Connie Polman Tuin, one of Canada’s best runners, entered the world stage in the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. Roy Gerela was raised in Powell River and down the road became a star with the National Football League’s Pittsburgh Steelers where he became a three-time Super Bowl champion. Brad Bombardir rose through Powell River’s minor hockey ranks and became a classy rearguard for the New Jersey Devils, where he won a Stanley Cup, and played for the Minnesota Wild.
And fans throughout BC, especially in his hometown of Powell River, fans cheered Gary Lupul as he and his Vancouver Canucks battled the New York Islanders in the Stanley Cup final of 1982. Lupul later worked with the team as the Canucks’ scout in Ontario and the northern United States college circuit, was a close friend a mine, and sadly and shockingly, died of a heart attack just last year.
Former NHLers Micah Aivazoff and Dan Lucas are Powell Riverites, as is baseball’s Bobby Cripps, who came close to playing for the Toronto Blue Jays, and Brian Clark, who was within a rotator cuff of pitching for the New York Yankees. But Brian did get to sit beside Joe Dimaggio at the Yankees spring training camp.
Powell River’s Ted Gerela was a star with the Canadian Football League’s BC Lions, and now our eyes are on winger Cam Cunning, who is hoping to crack the Calgary Flames line-up.
And of course there’s the Powell River Regals, three-time Allan Cup champs, a powerhouse in Canadian senior hockey, who have become a modern day Canadian juggernaut, with the majority of it team members being Powell River natives. When they won the Allan Cup in 1997, there were 17 players born and raised in Powell River, whereas one of their competitors, Truro, NS had just two.
Gaston, although not from Powell River, was once called “the best all-round hockey player in the world” by the Russians. (Or was that Bob Gainey?)