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Coalers defeated by former NHL stars

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A team of former NHL players were joined by a few local individuals for a game against the Bienfait Coalers on April 15 at Affinity Place. The all-stars won the game 10-5. (Photo submitted)

Glenn Anderson and Bernie Nicholls have been retired from the NHL for more than 15 years, but their skills, and their drawing power, are still impressive.

Anderson and Nicholls were headliners on a team of former NHL players who doubled up the four-time Big 6 Hockey League champions, the Bienfait Coalers, 10-5 on April 15 at Affinity Place in Estevan. Hundreds of people gathered to watch the game.

Nicholls wound up with three goals, while Anderson scored early in the game and was in on a few more.

Anderson marveled at the venue where the game was played, and the people who helped make it happen. He has been a regular on NHL old-timer tours for several years, and enjoys coming to communities like Estevan to entertain the fans.

He's best-known for his tenure with the Edmonton Oilers, where he won five Stanley Cups in seven years, and had a penchant for scoring big goals.

Anderson added a sixth championship with the New York Rangers in 1994.

He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2008.

"It's the highest honour that can be bestowed upon you," said Anderson. "I think it's just one of those humbling honours that you don't know, until you actually get there and receive the honour, how grateful you are (for it), and how you're up amongst the best players in the world who ever played the game."

He received a lot of attention recently when Ryan Smyth tried to break Anderson's record for career power play goals as an Oiler. They wound up tied with 182 goals with the man advantage.

Anderson said he was hoping that Smyth would break the record.

Smyth has already announced his retirement.

"I was waiting for a long period of time for him to break it, but it was not meant to be," said Anderson. "It's too bad. Records are meant to be broken, and if there's anyone to break it, I hoped it would be him."

Anderson currently resides in New York City, and is employed by the Rangers.

Nicholls is best-known for his performance in the 1988-89 season, when, as a member of the Los Angeles Kings, he became one of five players in NHL history to record at least 150 points in a campaign.

"Playing with great helps a lot, and when things start going well, they go well, and you just ride it as much as you can," said Nicholls.

The 88-89 season was also the first for Wayne Gretzky as a King, and that certainly gave the boost in prominence for the Kings, not just in the LA market, but across the league.

"A lot of what the LA fans are witnessing today is due to Wayne," Nicholls said.

Nicholls played for several NHL teams after being traded by the Kings in 1990, but returned to Los Angeles as a coaching consultant in 2012, just in time for the Kings' Stanley Cup victory.

He has since left the organization, and now spends his time hunting and playing in old-timer hockey games.

Coalers co-manager Trevor Dutka said the Coalers enjoyed playing against the former NHLers, and the Coalers were impressed with how they can still skate, shoot and move the puck.

Other members of the NHL all-star team included Gord Paccock, Perry Miller, Mike Ford, Rich Preston, Jeff Odgers, Doug Smail, Ken Baird and Dwayne Hay. Several local players, including Daniel Moriarty and Kyler Dutka, played with the NHL team.

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