SJHL inducting four into the Hall of Fame on Friday


Darrell Spelay is the all-time leading scorer in Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League.

Spelayis the all time scoring leader with 451 career points, in 246 games. Spelay's 243 goals are also a career league high.

As a Terrier Spelay recorded 143 points in 1981-'82, the second best total in team history, behind only Ed Zawatsky's 152. Spelay's 73 goals that season is a single season best for the Terriers. He had four straight seasons with 50-plus goals. The milestone marks have earned him numerous accolades through the years including having his # 6 jersey retired --it hangs in the rafters of the Farrell Agencies Arena -- and being chosen by the fans to the Millennium All-Terrier team in 2000.

This Friday an exclamation point will be put on Spelay's career and accomplishments as the SJHLinducts Spelay as member of its Hall of Fame.

Spelay will be among four to be installed at a ceremony during the Yorkton Terrier home game at the Farrell Agencies Arena that night.

Spelay said he is excited by the induction, although he admitted he thought it might be coming.

"Once I heard the game would be played in Yorkton I thought I would have a chance, but nothing is a given," he said.

So when the call came Spelay was still thrilled.

"About a month ago Larry Wells with the Terrier executive called and advised me of the news," he said.

Spelay said he sees "appreciates all the previous awards," but added the Hall of Fame induction "will be the final chapter in the book."

As for his records, Spelay said he expects they may never be broken, not because of a feeling of being so much better than today's players, but because the game has changed.

While he played four seasons as a Junior Terrier, Spelay said today when a player "has any talent they're moving on to the WHL (Western Hockey League), or U.S. scholarship."

Spelay had a cup of coffee with Brandon in the WHL, but chose to return to the Terriers. The question is does he regret not pursuing hockey at the higher level?

"In general everything worked out very well for me," he said, then paused a moment and added there are spots in his career where he sometimes thinks "I should have pursued other avenues."

In the book Guts and Go: Great Saskatchewan Hockey Stories Spelay expanded upon the choice.

The numbers Spelay put up as a Terrier almost saw him leave to go to the Western Hockey League and the Brandon Wheat Kings. "My third year was the closest. I went to the Brandon Wheat Kings camp. I went down just for the experience." Spelay led the Wheat Kings in scoring through training camp and returned to Yorkton with the idea of getting some more clothes and heading back to Brandon. "I had a good camp. I was leading the team in exhibition scoring. I was told I had made the team." But instead of returning to Brandon, Spelay chose to stay with the Terriers, thanks in part to the influence of then-Terrier coach Gerry James. "He told me if I was that good, I could be drafted right out of the SJHL," said Spelay in an interview at the time of his Millennium selection. "It's the one thing I'd change," he admitted, but he doesn't blame James. "It was my decision in the end."

Still it was as a Terrier that the highlight of his career occurred, and it was a not a personal milestone, but rather a moment of team success.

Spelay said the highlight was being part of the first Terrier team to win an SJHL title at the end of the 1982-'83 season.

"Winning Game 7," he said quickly when asked about his brightest memory. The game-winning goal was scored by Dale Skibinksy .

Spelay said going into the hall with builder Gene Krepakevich, media member Terry Struthers and coach Gerry James puts him in what he termed "a very honourable group."

Of the other three Spelay said he has a special connection with James, having had his best Junior years under James' coaching.

"I certainly have respect for Gerry," he said, adding while people might know he played under James as a Junior, their connection actually began years earlier when Spelay was still a Pee Wee.

Spelay said at that time Yorkton Minor Hockey held a try-out with about 150 Pee Wee-aged players attending, and James sat in the stands and selected a traveling team. Spelay was not picked, something he said was not a big deal to him. He was content to play house league.

But fate had other ideas. A player James selected couldn't make the commitment, and Spelay got his chance.

"I learned more about hockey, and the game of hockey in that one year. I owe him (James) a huge gratitude for that," said James.

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