Bruins at root of junior A in Chilliwack

BCHL, Chilliwack Chiefs, Chilliwack Bruins, Victoria Cougars

Dennis Anderson (left) and Richard Kramp (right) were three members of the pioneering Chilliwack junior A Bruins of the early 1970’s. Both men still live in the Chilliwack area.

Before there were Chiefs, before there were Colts and Eagles, a group of hockey pioneers paved the way for junior hockey in Chilliwack.

This town’s BCHL lineage can be traced back to the early 1970’s and the Chilliwack Bruins.

A collection of guys from here, there and everywhere, Chilliwack’s original junior A team played six seasons (1970-76) in the BCHL and another two in the Pacific Junior A Hockey League before changing their name to the Colts in 1978.

Their accomplishments have faded into history and it is the Chiefs, not the Bruins,  whose name holds synonymous with junior A hockey in Chilliwack.

But if you look hard enough, you can still find two or three members of that Bruins squad who are happy to reminisce.

Like Richard Kramp, who first experienced Chilliwack as a visiting player in 1969.

“I was playing junior B with the Nanaimo Buccanneers one year,” Kramp recalled. “We won the Island division and went up against the Chilliwack Jets.”

The games were played at the old Chilliwack Coliseum, with 3,500 or so fans jammed into the old barn.

“Into a 2,500 seat arena,” Kramp laughed. “They were hanging from the rafters. It was unbelievable.”

In a best of three series, Kramp’s Nanaimo squad took game one then lost the next two, robbed by a hot goaltender whose name he cannot remember.

“The final game was on a Sunday and he wasn’t supposed to play because he was religious and wasn’t allowed to play on Sundays,” Kramp said. “So we thought it was going to be easy. We thought it was ours, but somehow he ended up playing and stoned us again.”

Chilliwack turned junior A that summer and Kramp got an invite to camp from Bob Foster.

Suddenly he was on the home team, with those rabid rafter-hanging fans cheering for him.

“I loved playing in that barn. It always had good ice and the atmosphere was just pure old-time hockey,” Kramp said with a smile. “I talked to lots of guys who played there, and it was intimidating. The boards were set up a bit different, quite high. The spectators were about eight feet above the ice, which probably made it louder.”

Kramp and company struggled in their first year, ending with a record of 12-43-5 (according to www.hockeydb.com).

Throughout that season, the Bruins were battered and soundly beaten by a crew from Victoria.

“They were 59 points ahead of us in the standings, and they beat us all year long by scores of 10-2, 8-1, 12-3 — they just had their way with us,” Kramp said. “In the playoffs, it was first versus fourth, so we had to take them on again. Everybody was going, ‘Well, that’s the end of that.’”

But a funny thing happened on the way to the slaughterhouse. Victoria won the first game, but only by two or three goals.

“It wasn’t a rout or anything, and it gave us confidence because they didn’t spank us like they normally did,” Kramp said. “We started thinking that maybe we did have a chance. We won the next game and the game after that, and we just knew we could beat them.”

Chilliwack won four straight to send Victoria packing.

A broken foot kept Kramp out of the lineup in the second round as the Bruins fell to the Vancouver Centennials. Regardless, they’d already etched their names in hockey history.

“That series against the Cougars, it was always considered the biggest upset in B.C. junior hockey history,” Kramp said with pride. “I think all the adrenaline and everything with the Victoria series, we were due for a let-down against Vancouver.”

Kramp had 39 goals and 89 points in 60 games the following year, captaining the Bruins to a much-improved 25-31-4 record.

“We had a lot of local guys who played on those Bruin teams, and I think Greg Reid is still around,” Kramp said. “The local guys, that’s probably why we had the good following that we did. We had a bunch of guys from Saskatchewan too, and a couple from the States. We had a lot of fun and the community did so much for us.”

Kramp fondly remembers ‘Breakfasts with the Bruins’ every weekend at the Royal Hotel. The local radio station did live broadcasts from the hotel Sunday mornings.

Kramp’s on-ice play earned him a tryout with the National Hockey League’s Buffalo Sabres, who ended up sending him to the Charlotte Checkers of the EHL.

He ended up spending most of the 1972-73 season with the USHL Chicago Warriors. In the years to come, Kramp spent time with the IHL’s Kalamazoo Wings, Milwaukee Admirals and Grand Rapids Owls.

He played for two more USHL teams, the Central Wisconsin Flyers and Grand Rapids Blades.

Kramp played his last professional hockey in 1980-81, scoring 20 goals in 47 games for the EHL’s Hampton Aces.

After his playing days were done, Kramp could have returned to his hometown of Comox. Instead, he chose to settle in Chilliwack.

“It’s because of the experience I had playing hockey here, that’s why I came back when my playing days were done,” he said.

Kramp was sad when they knocked down the old Coliseum, likening it to an old house full of wonderful memories.

Kramp will see some of his old teammates from time to time at old-timers hockey tournaments.

Legendary coach Ernie ‘Punch’ McLean still looks him up when he comes through Chilliwack.

Most of the time, life’s too busy for Kramp to spend thinking about the good old days. But once in a while, it’s nice to take that trip down memory lane.

“It’s a different game now than when we played,” he said. “But I still run into fans who remember us, and it’s nice to sit and talk about it.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

(Black Press Media file photo)
One man injured, Victoria police seek more suspects afer Centennial Square brawl

Police were called around 4:30 p.m. for reports of multiple people fighting

Oulette the Great Horned owl was spotted alive just days after her mate, Ollie, was found dead from suspected rat poisoning on Oct. 17. (Photo by Cheryl Redhead)
Great Horned owl mate found alive in Cuthbert Holmes Park

Oulette spotted in tree above where male Ollie died of suspected poisoning

Saanich Police are investigating a broken window at the Greater Victoria School District office. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Saanich police suspect slingshot used to break window at SD61 office

Police find ball- bearing, or pellet, below broken window at school board

One of the squirrels who ended up having their tails amputated after getting them stuck together with tree sap. (Facebook/Wild ARC)
Sibling squirrels in recovery after sap situation leads to tail amputation

BC SPCA Wild ARC says squirrels will be released back into wild, fifth sibling was euthanized

Police will be diverting traffic between Island View Road and Amity Drive from 12 to 1 p.m. Oct. 23. (Google Maps)
Section of Pat Bay Highway closes for Mi’kmaq fishing rights demonstration

Police will be diverting traffic Oct. 23 from noon to 1 p.m between Island View Road and Amity Drive

Advance polls are open from Oct. 15 to 21 with election day on Oct. 24. (Black Press Media file photo)
Vancouver police reactivated the search for Jordan Naterer Thursday Oct. 22. Photo courtesy of VPD.
Mom of missing Manning Park hiker believes her son is waiting to come home

‘He’s going to come out of a helicopter and say ‘what took you so long?”

Environment Minister George Heyman, Premier John Horgan and Energy Minister Michelle Mungall announce that B.C. Hydro is proceeding with construction of the Site C dam, Dec. 11, 2017. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
Site C actions, costs won’t be known until after B.C. election, Horgan says

Peace River diverted for construction of reinforced dam base

FILE – A voting package for the 2018 electoral reform referendum. Vote-by-mail packages for the 2020 provincial election will look similar, according to information provided by Elections BC. (Katya Slepian - Black Press Media)
POLL: Have you voted yet?

As election day quickly approaches, hundreds of thousands of British Columbians have… Continue reading

Jordan Jay Ward is wanted on a Canada-wide warrant for two counts of manslaughter. Photo supplied
Wanted man from Calgary may be on Vancouver Island

Jordan Jay Ward is wanted on a Canada-wide warrant for two counts of manslaughter

Environment Canada has issued a snowfall advisory for parts of Vancouver Island for Thursday and Friday.(File photo)
Snowfall expected in parts of Vancouver Island this week

Environment Canada has issued a snowfall advisory for north, east and inland Vancouver Island

More and more electric cars are on the road, but one Chevy Bolt owner was shocked to see how much his BC Hydro bill skyrocketed once he started charging the vehicle. (Black Press file photo)
Lower Mainland man sees significant spike in BC Hydro bill after buying electrical vehicle

An increase should be expected, but Brian Chwiendacz experienced a 200-plus per cent hike

Most Read