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Learning the game of hockey growing up in Nipigon little did this hockey player know that one day he would have a significant impact on how the game was played in another part of the world.

Following a successful junior career and time spent in the professional ranks in the EHL and IHL, he returned to Lakehead University to continue his educational pursuits and play Nor'Wester hockey.

Upon graduation he made his way overseas, joining the Murrayfield Racers in Edinburgh, soon taking on the duo role of player-coach. With the club from 1979-84, he earned the 1979, ‘80, and ‘81 Northern League and Icy Smith Cup titles and two Northern Autumn Cups, advancing to the British Championship finals in 1984 and 1985.

Coaching the Nottingham Panthers from 1985-92 he claimed the 1987 Norwich Union Autumn Cup, and took the team all the way to the top, winning the 1989 British Championship playoffs. His successes saw him named the British Ice Hockey Writers Association Coach of the Year in 1987 and 1989.

Moving to the Sheffield Steelers mid-way through the 1993 season, he eventually took over the General Manager duties with the team, leading them to three consecutive British Championship playoff titles from 1995-97, back-to-back British National League titles in 1994-95 and 1995-96 and the 1995 Benson & Hedges Cup. Recruiting a number of players and coaches from Canada, he helped change the game and increased fan support and participation.

Coaching the under-20 juniors in 1984 he took them to six championships, claiming two Pool C bronze medals. Selected by the British Ice Hockey Association to lead their team at the World Championships he produced impressive results. Winning Pool D in 1990, Pool C in 1992 and Pool B in 1993, they gained entry into Pool A in 1994, a first for Great Britain in over 30 years.

In 1995, the same year the Nipigon Elks retired his #9 jersey, he was inducted into the British Ice Hockey Hall of Fame where he was described as one of the most successful coaches of domestic hockey in the modern era, and arguably the most successful Great Britain national team coach ever. Often travelling back home to coach summer camps, he returned permanently in the early 2000s, rounding out his over 25-year coaching career.

Inducted into the Northwestern Ontario Sports Hall of Fame, September 29, 2012

Alex Dampier

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