Courchaine inducted into Scholastica HOF

 * C-OF Billy Courchaine (Ottawa, Ont.) former stalwart of the Ottawa-Nepean Canadians was inducted into the College of St. Scholastica Saints Hall of Fame ....  2013 Canadians Projected Draft list Letters of Intent 2012 Canadians in the Minors  2012 Canadians in College 2012 Canadians Drafted


By Bob Elliott

DULUTH, Minn. -- Billy Courchaine was known as a steady catcher and a dependable hitter with the Ottawa-Nepean Canadians from 1974-79.

And he played a little goal too.

“They phoned me last year to tell me I’d be inducted, I told them Billy should be first to go in,” said Thunder Bay’s Andy Speak after the College of St. Scholastica inducted its second Hall of Fame class on Friday.

Courchaine was in goal 1974-78 leading the CSS Saints to NAIA titles in 1975 and 1977, earning all-American honours three times.

“We beat Gustavus Adolphus College 7-1 in 1975, the second time we won we played them again,” said Speak. “But they out shot us about 51-23. We kept yelling ‘hold ‘em Billy, we’ll get you one.’ We scored with 40 seconds remaining to win 3-2.”

After graduation, Courchaine was asked to try out for the Minnesota North Stars and advanced through rookie camp in 1978.

“And for the past 16 years I’ve been with the NHL’s Ottawa Senators,” Courchaine said in his speech. “Yes, I finally made the NHL ... as director of corporate sales.”

Courchaine told of making the 18-hour, Ottawa-Duluth drive and how after frosh weekend he expected to start skating, as “that’s what we did in Canada.” That was a no-no according to college rules, so the Saints worked out “something we did not do in Canada in the 1970s.”


“Coach said time to run through the woods towards rifle range, I fell behind, lost the pack, zigged when I should of zagged and wound up along on the highway,” Courchaine said. “A car stopped and it was a player driving home.

“Coach had called the Minnesota State troopers to organize a search party.”

Courchaine was named the NAIA national tournament MVP in the 1977 and was twice named to the all-tournament team. In 1977, he tied the record for the most saves (97) in the three games. He ranks third in career saves (2,016) and shutouts (four) and was also recognized in the April 25, 1977 issue of Sports Illustrated’s Faces in the Crowd column.

Now, an NCAA Division III school, St. Scholastia won 20 athletic titles in 2011-12, three more than any other NCAA school.

Also inducted in CSS’s second-ever class were Janie Monsaas Sayovitz  (women’s hoops, 1984-88), Tom Pearson (men’s hoops, 1988-91), Desiree Budd Essler (women’s cross country, 1999-2002), Father Francis X. Shea (school president, 1971-74) and 1987-88 women’s basketball team.

Over the yeaars the Saints have been homer to Canada: OF-LHP Darryl Fuchihara (Thunder Bay, Ont.) 2004-07; who earned Canadian Baseball Network All-Canadian honouable mention in 2005 LHP Joey Zanni (Thunder Bay, Ont.) 2004-06 and 1B Pat Shoppoff (Thunder Bay, Ont.) 2005.

Yet the hockey team has recruited heavily north of the border, including seniors: Carter Davis (Moose Jaw, Sask.), Jeremy Dawes (Winnipeg, Man.), Daman Milsom (Kelowna, BC), Stephane Phaneuf (Winnipeg, Man.); juniors Brenden Bradbury (Winnipeg, Man.), Brett Corcoran (Parksville, BC), Cody Danychuk (Biggar, Sask.), Joel Langevin (Nanaimo, BC), Paul Marcoux (Brandon, Man.), Tyler Miller (Fort Frances, Ont.), Chris Sinclair (Fort Frances, Ont.); sophomores Ryne Bodger (Duncan, BC), Chad Golanowski (Calgary, Alta.), Bobby Lipsett (Salmon Arm, BC), Brandon Nowakowski (Calgary, Alta.), Colin Rundell (Tees, Alta.) and freshmen Matt Malenstyn (Surrey, BC), Colin Phaneuf (Winnipeg, Man.) and Dave Williams (Okotoks, Alta.),

And soccer players ... Adam Hewitt (Richmond Hill, Ont.) and Erik Trochimchuk (Thunder Bay, Ont.).


Bill Courchaine’s speech

Thanks to Keith O’Brien ... as usual you’re the best ...

Many/most of you don’t know me – so sit tight --- giving speeches is my second favourite thing to do ... I’m used to speaking with my mask on ... I’m not a public speaker, but you were not expecting Bill Clinton (?) ... so here we go ...

Thank you to the College of St Scholastica, President Goodwin, the HOF committee and Coach Mark Wick for this wonderful honour which at the same time is humbling and greatly appreciated.

Congratulations to fellow alumni and 2012 inductees –- Janice, Tim, Desiree, the 87-88 Women’s Basketball Team and as well the Family of former president Father Shea.

I would also like to congratulate St. Scholastica for continuing to be Premier College with an outstanding reputation.

Also congratulations and thank Coach Wick for re-establishing a Hockey program that all the Saints alumni and the School can certainly proud of.

Due to family commitments I missed last year’s induction ceremony  of the 1974-75 Saints Hockey Team so -- I want to take a moment to convey my appreciation for that award and to reiterate that the 1974-75 team were a very “special and spirited” group to say the least -– would also like to congratulate teammate Andy Speak and other inaugural HOF inductees.

A little about me ... hockey ... St. Scholastica ... some of the best memories of my life ... and if there is time ... I’ll list every time that guy went around O’B for a breakaway ... and scored on me

I was born raised and now live Ottawa -- capital of Canada -- 900 miles from here –- an 18 hour drive –- which my family knows quite well -- if there is time I’ll get into  difference between an Ottawa and a Duluth winter.

Hockey has been big part of my life and my family’s life

With the encouragement of my parents and four sisters (I was only boy so I was “the spoiled one”) ...

I started skating when I was four years old put the pads on at seven ... by 15 I was playing junior hockey and at 18 came to Scholastica for four exciting years.

Then followed up with a try-out with the Minnesota North Stars and advancing through rookie camp in 1978 ... but based on how things we going decided to look for a real job by the Winter  of ’79.

During a span of 14 years my daughter Holly and son Adam both played AA hockey and I coached every year along the way.

Some years as a head coach and some as an assistant on both teams ... My wife Trish coordinated the whole thing ... a busy but memorable time for our family.

Coming out of  Major Jr. Adam signed with the Boston Bruins and continues to work to find his way in the challenging world of pro hockey.

And for the past 16 years I’ve worked for the NHL’s Ottawa Senators ... yes, I finally made the NHL ... as Director of Corporate Sales

AND I still find time to lace ‘em up twice a week or so - it ain’t pretty but it’s fun.

So as you can see we are a hockey family –- having said all that -- this award is certainly a crowning jewel to my life in hockey.....and I am very very grateful.

They say things happen for a reason and that things are meant to be - not sure if you believe that or not but for me ... Scholastica was a “meant to be”.

Like many student athletes -- It was my first time away from home and was the start of quite a journey that would last 17 years before moving back to Ottawa.

Thinking back I can tell you I had no idea what to expect when I arrived here in the Fall of 1974....

But a short story of how life started at St Scholastica:

After frosh weekend -- I’m like when do we start skate - that’s what we did in Canada -- can’t with College rules. But we get to workout ... something we did not do in Canada....

So we go up to the field behind the library there ...

After surviving 60 min -- Coach says time for the run through the woods towards rifle range ... believe it or not I fall behind, lose the pack and I zigged when I should of zagged and somehow end up alone out on the highway – Rice Lake Road??

So a car stops – one of the players driving home.....we drivs back – Coach is calling the Minnesota State troopers to organize a search now I’m thinking like this is just great– unexpectedly but thankfully I barely heard a word about it ...

The next day after workout we ran down the road through the parking lot and along Kenwood -- and back -- to ensure we didn’t lose anybody.   Guess I started a trend.  You’re welcome class of 2013.

Back in 1974 we were a smaller school -- hockey was the first team sport and the school community, especially the Sisters, were certainly excited about the future of the team and the school ....

During my time here I learned a lot. Probably more outside the classroom than in it ... stories for another time ...

All in all everyone was very helpful supportive. It made a big difference to me – want to say I am very appreciative of the time I spent here....


Thanks You’s 

Thanks to my many teammates ... This is an individual award but as you know you know it’s your teammates that help you succeed.

It would obviously take way too long to thank all them all individually

But I’d like to mention that as a goalie you really come to value your defensemen ... especially during the days of run and gun hockey ... backchecking was not a requirement –-optional to say the least ... so to all my Teammates especially the D thank you thank you ...


Some individuals ...

Mike Dalton –- Team captain who took the time out form a family holiday to attempt to recruit me to come here.

Coach Del Genereau –- Del and his wife Marguerite actually drove the 2,000 miles round trip to Ottawa to come and recruit me.

Max Ramsland –- coach of our 1976-77 championship Team –- Max’s unique style is certainly something I learned from and never forgotten.

Four years can sometimes seem like a long time–couple of guys that I’d like to single out ...

1) Bun Carlson - Bun was my goalie partner and for the  fouryears we rode together to every practice and every game and pushed each other every year to be better.

2) Keith O’Brien – O’B was my roommate for four years & a member of our 75-76 national championship team. O’B was always there for me - through good and not so good - lots of late night chats –  and he was in Calgary in 1985 (?) when Trishy and I exchanged I do’s

Love you guys.

My wife Trish children Holly and Adam –- I love and appreciate the fact that they listen attentively to my old Scholastica stories over and over and over again ...

My dad Sylva, mom Rita - my four sisters –- two of whom (Mary and Julie) are with me tonight -- words won’t really do them justice –- the seveb of us grew up with one family car and my Dad working shifts at the Plant  -- somehow I always had hockey gear and never missed a practice or a game - thinking back not sure how that happened but I’m sure they all sacrificed along the way to help me out -- can’t thank them enough for that.

My Mom and Dad and my sister Sylvie are no longer with us -- but not a day goes by that I don’t think of them and even more on a day like today.

In closing -- thanks again to the College of St. Scholastica for everything ... as I said the friendships, the hockey, the professors, my education, living in the Grove ... etc. ... all instrumental in my life and can’t stress enough how I am indeed grateful.