Garth Rizzuto during his time with the Moosejaw Canucks. Rizzuto was invited to the 50th anniversary of the WHL in Moosejaw on Sept. 24.

WHL celebrates 50th anniversary

Fernie local Garth Rizzuto was invited to the 50th anniversary of the WHL held in Moosejaw on Sept. 24.

The Western Hockey League is turning 50 this year, and the Moosejaw Warriors they are inviting old friends to their first game to help celebrate. Among those invited is Fernie local Garth Rizzuto, who played with the then-Moosejaw Canucks during the league’s first year.

The Moosejaw Canucks won the championship that year, beating the Regina Pats five games to one in a nine-game series.

“This being the 50th year, if you look in the record books of the WHL, it shows you that Moosejaw won the inaugural year,” said Garth Rizzuto. “The Edmonton Oil Kings were the reigning Memorial Cup Champions and we beat them in the ninth game in the best of nine series. We went on then to play the Regina Pats and beat them five games to one. We won the league and we won the championship and that was the end of our season.”

Rizzuto said that he was 18 when he first played for the WHL, and turned pro the next year, playing for the Dallas Stars, but he has fond memories of playing for the Moosejaw Canucks.

“After all these years, they thought it would be a great idea, and they invited members of the original team, and at that ceremony before the game, they are going to raise a banner, launching our championship that year,” he said.

On Sept. 24, the Moosejaw Warriors open their season with a game against the Regina Pats, with a pre-game ceremony to commemorate 50 years in the league. The Moosejaw team changed their name from the Canucks to the Warriors in 1984, after the team returned to Moosejaw from Manitoba.