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That time two Zambonis drove down Queen Street

Remembering the Greyhounds' Memorial Cup win of 1993

From the archives of the Sault Ste. Marie Public Library:

On the evening of May 23, 1993, 4,757 fans packed the Memorial Gardens as the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds faced the Peterborough Petes for the 75th Memorial Cup. Less than a year ago, the Hounds had suffered a haunting defeat in the 1992 final, allowing the cup-winning goal with just fourteen seconds left on the clock to the Kamloops Blazers. However, this year was different. These Hounds were of a different breed.

“This hockey club deserves that trophy and we will fight for it. We won’t quit fighting until we bring that mother back here.” Explained Greyhounds Coach Ted Nolan.

The 1992-93 regular season was merely a rehearsal for the main event. Although lingering injuries wounded the Hounds for most of the long winter, the team leapt into the spring playoffs riding a seven-game winning streak to clinch the Emms Division title.

Controversy arose when, despite winning their third consecutive divisional title, no Hounds player received an end-of-season award, nor did anyone land a roster spot on the coveted OHL All-Star Team. The snubbing gained national attention, as even Sportsnet commentators Paul Romanuk and Bob Mackenzie were shocked by the disrespect. Still, these Hounds were of a different breed.

With the 1993 Memorial Cup Tournament being hosted in Ontario, instead of receiving a bye to the second round of the OHL playoffs, the winners of each division would compete for the rights to the national competition. A best-of-seven Super Series squared the “underdog” Soo Greyhounds off against the Peterborough Petes.

The Hounds smelled blood early and never relinquished their lead, sweeping the Petes in four straight games. The 75th Memorial Cup Tournament would be hosted in Sault Ste. Marie. These Hounds were of a different breed.

General Manager Sherry Bassin shouted, “We’re bringing the show home to beautiful downtown Sault Ste. Marie!”

The Hounds continued their pursuit, sweeping the Owen Sound Platers and then eliminating the Detroit Junior Red Wings in just five games.

The OHL Finals were a rematch of the opening Super Series, Hounds versus the Petes. This time, the Petes found revenge, silencing the Hounds within just five games. It was the Soo’s first OHL playoff series loss since 1988. The silver lining, thankfully, was that both the Hounds and Petes had already earned a berth into the Memorial Cup Tournament by virtue of being finalists. The stakes were merely bragging rights.

Memorial Cup pandemonium erupted in the Soo. A parade with floats and marching bands ushered in the festivities along with a thousand-seat dinner. The competition would feature the Hounds, the Petes, the Swift Current Broncos, and the Laval Titan. Ticket packages for all eight games of the tournament, normally priced at $136.96, were selling on the streets for a whopping $600. Every game was sold out. Pressure was insurmountably high, but these Hounds were of a different breed.

In the opening round robin, the Hounds split the first two games before going on to a 7-3 thumping of the rival Petes. With the best record in the round, the Hounds earned a bye to the Championship final.

Ironically, the Hounds would once again play against the Petes. This time, for the Memorial Cup.

With tension at a boiling point, the Memorial Garden erupted when the Hounds claimed first blood at the 2:50 mark in the first period, off the slick hands of Captain Rick Kowalsky. Ralph Intranuovo and Chad Penny also found the back of net in the opening frame, as the Hounds entered intermission with a commanding 3-0 lead.

Steve Sullivan added to the tally in the second, with the Hounds up by four with just twenty minutes of play remaining. The crowd was ecstatic.

The Petes retaliated in the third, firing two pucks past goaltender Kevin Hodson, but the damage was done. It was too little too late. There would be no last-minute collapse. As nearly five thousand fans counted down the final seconds, the end was inevitable. These Hounds were of a different breed.

The Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds won the Memorial Cup, defeating the Peterborough Petes 4-2 in front of a home crowd.

“When Killer (Rick Kowalsky) got the first goal, I knew we were going to win. Some things are meant to be and this was almost like destiny,” said Assistant Coach Danny Flynn.

“My heart was beating a million miles an hour. I was having trouble breathing. I was frozen by the emotion in those last 20 seconds. It was almost like a dream to sit and watch those guys carry around the prize they’d chased for three years. It was unbelievable!” exclaimed Nolan.

“I know what ecstasy is now!” shouted a champagne-soaked Sherry Bassin

“We came so close last year and I’ve been haunted by what happened every day. Now when I look at my ring, my eyes will light up and I’ll remember this moment forever,” said Rick Kowalsky

Intranuovo, who reportedly passed a kidney stone the night before, was awarded the Memorial Cup’s Most Valuable Player.

The Memorial Gardens echoed with thunderous applause. Fans chanted, “We’re number one! We’re number one!” and billowed into the streets where two Zambonis drove down Queen Street in celebration.

The police reported no problems, with the mayor claiming “a good clean party” had by all.

OHL Commissioner David Branch said that he had personally attended 19 Memorial Cup Championships and none of them had reached the energy and excitement seen in Sault Ste. Marie.

Thirty-one years after their inaugural season, the Soo Greyhounds were Memorial Cup Champions. After decades of disappointing rebuilds, superstar acquisitions, and heartbreaking losses, the Hounds finally found eternal victory. No need for Ron Francis, no need for Wayne Gretzky. These Hounds were of a different breed.

Each week, the Sault Ste. Marie Public Library and its Archives provide SooToday readers with a glimpse of the city’s past.

Find out more of what the Public Library has to offer at and look for more "Remember This?" columns here.

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