They made indisputable contributions to the Estevan Bruins, regardless of whether their impact came as a player, a general manager or a supporter.
In some cases, they found more than one way to leave their mark on the organization.
And their efforts have landed them into the SJHL's Hall of Fame.
Ron Dunville, Bruce Firth, Ray Frehlick, Alan May, Terry Simpson and the late Bill Shinske were enshrined during a ceremony March 1 at the Days Inn Plaza. Each inductee was presented with their Hall of Fame ring, and then given a chance to discuss their time in Estevan and their hockey careers.
Shinske's son, John, accepted the recognition on his father's behalf.
The induction ceremony was held in conjunction with the Bruins' annual awards night.
Ron Dunville's name is still a fixture in the Bruins' record book. An offensive dynamo, Dunville scored 181 goals and 349 points in 190 games in less than four seasons. He remains the Bruins all-time leader in goals and points, and he is third and 12th, respectively, in SJHL history for those two categories.
In his third year alone, he had 63 goals and 138 points to lead the league in both categories, and he won the MVP award.
More than 800 young men have played for Estevan since Dunville's final season with the Bruins. He's surprised his records still stand.
"I played for basically three seasons, and it's a four season league," said Dunville. "To think that it still stands today, and to realize that Bruce played four seasons, and is still some 50 points behind me, I never thought it would stand."
He said it means a lot to be inducted alongside Firth. The two broke into the league together, and often played on the same line. And he is pleased that to join some of the league's all-time greats in the hall.
“The SJHL has produced so many great players,” said Dunville. “Now, to be going into the Hall of Fame, with such wonderful inductions … it is truly an honour to be inducted into this Hall of Fame.”
Bruce Firth has made significant contributions to the club on and off the ice. He remains second on the Bruins' all-time scoring list. In 235 games, Firth had 128 goals and 304 points, placing him in the top 20 in scoring in SJHL history.
Firth paid tribute to his twin brother, Barry, as they were teammates throughout their junior hockey careers. While Bruce Firth was a dangerous offensive forward, Barry Firth was an all-star defenceman known for his all-round game.
“Teammates and opponents alike will tell you that if Barry went into the corner to battle for the puck, it was only on rare occasions that he did not come out of the corner with the puck,” said Bruce Firth.
He's also grateful for the sacrifices that his parents made to advance his hockey career, for the impact that teammates and coaches had on him as a player and a person, and for the support shown by the community.
Off the ice, Firth served as the club's treasurer for a number of years, and helped keep the team afloat during some lean years financially. He is now the treasurer of the Bruins Alumni Association, which assists the Bruins with some of their projects.
Firth said he would cherish the Hall of Fame honour for the rest of his life.
Frehlick has been one of the Bruins' most ardent supporters. After the original Bruins of the WHL moved to New Westminster, B.C., in 1971, a group of businessmen, including Frehlick, secured an SJHL expansion team for Estevan in 1971-72. Frehlick was the first GM and president.
“Before the big Bruins moved from here to New Westminster, it became a situation where our budget reached a point in which we could not raise that kind of money in the community,” Frehlick said.
Frehlick would remain the GM for the next few years, balancing his commitment to the team with his commitments in Saskatchewan's oil patch.
The WHL Bruins' budget, at that time, was $382,000. The SJHL Bruins budget in their first year in 1971-72 was $45,000, and, according to Frehlick, they didn't spend all of that money.
He became proud of the way in which the players conducted themselves off the ice, thanks in part to a team policy that levied fines for foul language.
“Wherever we stayed, I'd get letters back, saying 'Thank you, Mr. Frehlick, for staying at our hotel. You have a tremendously disciplined hockey club. They may eat a lot, but they're sure polite and kind,'” said Frehlick.
Among the honours that Frehlick has received – a Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal and enshrinement in the Saskatchewan Baseball Hall of Fame – the SJHL Hall of Fame stands out among the finest, he said.
Alan May played with the Bruins from 1982 to 1986, and he was a key contributor to the Bruins when they won their first SJHL championship in 1985. He finished that season with 51 goals, 98 points and 409 penalty minutes.
That team was coached by Gerry James, who was inducted into the SJHL Hall of Fame last year.
“When I think of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, I think of Gerry James, (long-time Weyburn Red Wings coach) Dwight McMillan, Bill Shinske and Terry Simpson,” said May. “Those are always names that you heard over the years.”
He parlayed his pugilistic abilities into a career in the NHL that spanned 393 games, most of them with the Washington Capitals. But his speech was an emotional one, and May teared up as he talked about Estevan, the SJHL, his friends and family, and the impact of his mother and father.
“He's been an amazing father, and second-to-none,” said May. “For that, I thank you. I'm an incredible father thanks to you.”
May also applauded his Bruin billets, Bert and Melodye Pierson, and their sons Jeff and Brad for all that they have given to the city and the team.
He said he still brags about the SJHL, even though he lives in Texas. He hopes that one day his youngest son will be able to play in Spectra Place, a venue that May called "incredible."
Terry Simpson spent four years with the Bruins in the late 1950s and early 1960s, playing as both a forward and a defenceman with the Black and Gold.
He said he was fortunate to play with some really good teammates in Estevan. The Bruins' coach of the day, Scotty Monroe, was a motivator who preached the values of teamwork and a good work ethic.
But his greatest contributions to the SJHL were as the coach of the Prince Albert Raiders' dynasty. He joined the Raiders in 1972, and Prince Albert went on to win seven SJHL titles and four national championships.
His coaching record in the SJHL was 433-120-10.
Simpson said he didn't have much formal coaching instruction when he joined the Raiders.
"I did learn very early in my coaching career that if you want to have any chance of success, you have to surround yourself with very good people and very good players," said Simpson.
The success of Simpson's Raiders allowed them to join the WHL, and in 1985, they won the Memorial Cup national major junior championship. Simpson coached Canada's national junior team to gold in 1985 and silver in 1986 at the World Junior Hockey Championship. And he coached with several NHL teams, highlighted by head coaching gigs with the New York Islanders, the Philadelphia Flyers and the Winnipeg Jets.
Bill Shinske remains one of the most beloved individuals ever to be affiliated with the Bruins. Nicknamed "Billy Bruin," he joined the team in the late 1950s as a part-time trainer, bus driver and, when necessary, a fill-in for head coach Ernie "Punch" McLean. He was the GM of the WHL Bruins from 1968 until 1971, when the team relocated to New Westminster.
Shinske returned to Estevan in 1989 to resume his GM duties with the SJHL Bruins, and remained with the team until 1995, when he passed away after a lengthy illness. Shinske's Bruins reached the league final in 1992, and he introduced the Sportsman's Dinner that helped improve their financial picture.
"I know my Dad has always felt that Saskatchewan was their home, and he's smiling down on us today," said John Shinske, in accepting the honour on behalf of his father. "I can hear him repeating the three things I always heard him yelling from the stands: 'Skate, keep your head up and keep your hands on your stick. Go Bruins."
John Shinske said that his father would have been touched by the Hall of Fame induction. The Bruins were a huge part of his family's life, and they even named the family dog Bruino.
"I was born in Estevan, and I know my father drilled into me, like Alan May said, that it's all about family, about supporting the community, and Estevan's always been a hugely supportive community," said John.
Shinske's name is found on the Bill Shinske Ethics Award handed out by the team each year, and the Bill Shinske Builder Award handed out by the league annually. There's also a large plaque inside the Bruin complex at Spectra Place with words from Shinske.
The SJHL Hall of Fame was introduced in 2009 as a ways to honour players, coaches and builders who have made a significant impact on the league. Previous Hall of Fame dinners have been held in Weyburn, Humboldt and Yorkton.