While they don’t celebrate each passing year like the 1972 Miami Dolphins, two cornerstones of the 2001 Camrose Kodiaks think often of their role in the only national championship in franchise history.
The Dolphins – who are the last NFL team to go through a season undefeated – traditionally pop a bottle of champagne each season when the last team with a perfect record suffers a loss. But despite no history of opening the bubbly each year when the Kodiaks are eliminated from the chase for the RBC Cup, that doesn’t mean Scott Galenza, a Camrose native and Top Goaltender at the 2001 National Junior A Championship, has foregone all celebrations.
After posting a perfect 5-0 record with a 1.22 goals-against average and a .951 save percentage at the tournament in Flin Flon, Man., Galenza captured another national championship in 2009, taking home the Allan Cup, Canada’s National Senior Championship, as a member of the Bentley Generals.
“It is certainly a pretty big feat to win two titles,” said Galenza. “I probably take a little more pride in the RBC because I was there the whole year, I played through the whole championship, and I was that guy that was counted on to go out there and get it done.”
Admitting it doesn’t seem like 10 years since the Kodiaks hoisted the trophy in Flin Flon, Galenza says looking back on it, the 2001 Kodiaks were a team that came together at the right time and one that had the necessary depth to play over 100 games.
“We really gelled as a team,” said Galenza. “Through league play we probably didn’t have a guy within the top 20 in scoring, but what we did have was four very well-balanced lines. Everyone on that team knew their role and played it to a tee.
“To a man we all did what it took to win, and that is still very satisfying.”
Darrell Stoddard, who took home MVP and Top Scorer honours from the 2001 tournament, is one of the few members of the team still playing pro hockey – he’s in his sixth season and has suited up for over 300 career games with the Mississippi RiverKings of the Central Hockey League.
One of Stoddard’s memories of the ’01 Kodiaks was their ability to overpower teams with their depth up front.
“Everyone on that team would go to war for the guy sitting beside him,” said Stoddard, who led all scorers with five goals and 11 points in six games. “That really brought us together as a team, and our depth was incredible. Anybody on that team could play in any situation, and what was supposedly our third line made it so hard on teams that they didn’t want to come back out and play against them.”
While still enjoying being able to play hockey for a living, Stoddard says he has begun to turn some of his attention to teaching the game to Mississippi’s youth, and says he finds it rewarding to promote and develop hockey in a non-traditional market.
“When I started here six years ago there wasn’t much in the way of fan support,” said Stoddard, who has a family and plans on playing a few more years with the RiverKings. “But we are now getting more and more people interested and learning about hockey. Working with the junior programs for kids and seeing enrollment grow is something that feels good to be a part of.”
Both Galenza and Stoddard agree that at the time, you don’t completely realize how difficult it is to get to a national championship, let alone win one.
“There is a ton of appreciation now for what we went through,” said Galenza. “To go through that grind and still be able to take care of yourself and perform at a high level in a national championship; looking back, I am thrilled to say I was a part of that and part of bringing a title to Camrose.”