Pat Haramis and the 1980 Memorial Cup Champions: The Cornwall Royals

First published in the April 2014 edition of Cornwall, SD&G, Akwesasne’s Sports Energy News

When one takes the time to sit back and think of all the great sports teams to come out of this area, you can bet your bottom dollar that the Cornwall Royals will be one of the first teams mentioned. The early 1980’s saw the team take two Memorial Cup championships with the first one taking the hockey world by surprise. The Royals were not lacking in depth during the 1979-1980 campaign. Four solid lines anchored the ice and cruised Cornwall to a QMJHL President’s Cup championship by unexpectedly defeating the first place ranked Sherbrooke Castors four games to two.

Pat Haramis
For Pat Haramis, a look back during his time with the Royals as they headed out for the Memorial Cup tournament seems to tire him out. “It’s all a blur. There was so much going on that we didn’t have time to think. We didn’t have time to be nervous.” Haramis grew up in nearby Maxville, Ontario before his parents moved to Cornwall in 1973. Playing peewee hockey in the Cornwall system is what bumped him up to the Royals ranks. Always supportive in his children’s endeavors, Nick Haramis Sr. urged Pat to find a way to get to and from games. Being busy working to support his 10 kids, he found that his time was scarce. Luckily Pat found aid in a teammate. “I can’t thank Dan O’Reilly and his father enough. If it wasn’t for them driving me back and forth from practice, I never would’ve had a hockey career.”

The 1980 Memorial Cup was staged out west switching from the Keystone Centre in Brandon, Manitoba and the Regina Agridome in Regina, Saskatchewan. For some of the boys, it was there first time on a plane. “I know it was my first time,” recalls Haramis. “The team bought us all cowboy hats and Dan Daoust even wrote a song about us bringing home the championship. It was a number one hit in Cornwall that spring.” Laughter aside, on the ice is where things got serious. “I don’t know what it was but every single player on that team contributed in one way or another. Yes, we had our all stars like Dale Hawerchuk but guys like Newell Brown and Pat O’Kane really made it a team effort.”

Dale Hawerchuk in model form with his 1980 Cornwall Royals uniforms.
Dale Hawerchuk in model form with his 1980 Cornwall Royals uniforms.

When Robert Savard scored and clinched the victory with his overtime goal over the Peterborough Petes, the fun was just about to begin. “I remember coming back to the Montreal airport and there was about 38 buses waiting for us. We needed a police escort just to come down the 401!” Haramis could not believe the support the fans and community gave the team. “Cornwall really knew how to do it. As we got into Ontario and closer to Cornwall, there were people upon people lined up with signs on the overpass just screaming and waving at us. It was when we rolled into the Water Street Arena that I knew how much this meant to the city.” Waiting for them in the parking lot were thousands upon thousands of screaming fans. So many that it made getting into the arena difficult. “We were hanging out of the windows of the bus trying to high five as many people as we could.”

With a whirlwind trip home, the Royals were treated to a parade around Cornwall complete with sitting in the backseat of brand new Corvettes. “The work that must have went into making this celebration, I just can’t fathom it. I hope that all the volunteers with this and throughout the season know that their work did not go unnoticed. Every one of us noticed and appreciated everything anybody ever did with the team.”

The Royals and their second straight Memorial Cup in 1981.
The Royals and their second straight Memorial Cup in 1981.

After a monumental celebration, Haramis turned his attention down the collegiate road. Getting offers from a few U.S. universities including Yale and Bowling Green, he decided on nearby Clarkson University to start his college career. “Clarkson had the number one ranked hockey program and is still one of the best today. It was a big reason why I choose it. That and it’s close to home.” Juggling schooling with his hockey prowess seemed to bolt Haramis to a higher level. In his four years as a Golden Knight, Haramis notched 140 points in 134 games. He was also a recipient of the Paul J. Pilon Memorial award which is given out to the hockey program’s top scholar-athlete and team MVP. “I loved every minute of my time at Clarkson. We were always ranked first or second in the country,” Haramis recalls fondly. “Funny thing is we lost every game in the Eastern championships but were still awarded home ice in the next tournament because that’s how good of a team we were.”

2013-2014 Clarkson University Hockey Media guide.
2013-2014 Clarkson University Hockey Media guide.

Haramis lives in the Kitchener-Waterloo area now as an engineer with his family. His daughter excels in dance and his son is carving out his own hockey legacy albeit on a much smaller scale. “I’d love to give back. You don’t realize while you’re playing how much people volunteer their time, energy, money to supporting your dreams. I’m going to see if my son will want to turn into coaching with me some day; I feel the need to give back to the game that gave me so much.”

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The Latvians never say die: 2014 Memorial Cup Champions, Edgars Kulda and the Edmonton Oil Kings

Living in Eastern Ontario has its perks especially when it comes to hockey. I get the best of both worlds with complete Ontario Hockey League and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League coverage almost 24/7. Same with the NHL, most games I watch are from teams on the east coast. Naturally, I’ve developed a bit of an east coast bias if you will.

(Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

The beauty of tournaments like the Memorial Cup, Subway Supers Series and even the Stanley Cup Playoffs allow me, well, more like force me to pay attention and watch west coast teams. It’s fantastic because it’s like watching hockey and following teams for the first time all over again.

Case in point: Edmonton Oil Kings.

I’m not up to snuff on my Western Hockey League prowess as I’d like to be. I have an OHL bias as most Ontarians do but I’m not ignorant to the fact that there are some mighty powerful teams on the other side of the country.

The Oil Kings fit that bill. What they pulled off in the 2014 Mastercard Memorial Cup was nothing less of extrodinary. They faced and conquered elimination twice on their journey and with elite level goaltending pulled off a championship upset over my OHL’s Guelph Storm. Long story short, on paper, they weren’t supposed to get this far.

The MVP of the tournament however came as another shock. Edgars Kulda, an undrafted Latvian out of the capital city of Riga, proved that one should keep a watchful eye on this emerging hockey country. He notched an impressive four goals and totaled seven points. Three came at the hands of the Guelph Storm in the championship game.

kulda_edgars_edmonton_oil_kings_2012-13_oilkings_ca_11Maybe it was the memory of his fellow countryman and Oil King team mate, Kristians Pelss, who drowned last summer that encouraged his impressive game. Whatever the case Kulda has made his mold this year and maybe, just maybe, an NHL team will take notice and select him this year in Philadelphia.

It seems like 2014 has been the year of Latvia. From Kristers Gudlevskis becoming the first goaltender to suit up for an ECHL, AHL, NHL and Olympic game in one season, from the Ted Nolan coached Team Latvia that narrowly conquered the might team Canada at the Sochi Olympics to the emerging presence in the junior ranks of Edgars Kulda, the hockey world shouldn’t be shocked no longer.

Latvia knows its hockey and they’re only going to get stronger.