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   Volume 82 - Issue 11 Website:www.passherald.ca   email: news@passherald.ca   $1.00   
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"If you have no training or experience, now is a good time to be very conservative."
- Shannon Werner  
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Herald Contributor photo
Crowsnest Pass native Darcy Wakaluk in net for the Rochester Americans.
 
Crowsnest Pass native and former NHL goalie Darcy Wakaluk will be the 51st athlete inducted into the Rochester Americans (Amerks) Hall of Fame at the end of this month.
Wakaluk, who appeared in 181 games with the Amerks over five seasons from 1986 to 1991 with 81 wins and seven shutouts, will be inducted along with former Amerks defenseman Rick Pagnutti at a ceremony to be held next Friday, March 30th at the Blue Cross Arena in Rochester, New York.
Wakaluk is the fourth goalie to be inducted into the Amerks Hall of Fame over the 56-year history of the franchise, joining Bobby Perreault, Gerry Cheevers and Jacques Cloutier.
“To have your name on the wall with some of the guys that have been inducted there is very humbling,” Wakaluk told the Pass Herald last week.
“It came as quite a shock to be recognized for something that you truly enjoy and love playing.”
He added that it was even more important to him to receive this recognition from the Amerks, as many of his career highlights happened during his time with that organization, including winning the American Hockey League (AHL) Calder Cup and becoming the first goaltender in North American professional hockey to score a goal after shooting the puck into the net during a game against the Utica Devils on December 5th, 1987.
“Rochester has been good to me and it truly is one of the best places in the AHL to play,” said Wakaluk.
“They have such a deep tradition of hockey and have had some amazing players come through there.”
“They’re such a terrific organization with the way they treat their players and their fans.”
Beginning playing hockey in Crowsnest Pass at the age of five, Wakaluk played hockey both recreationally and professionally for 27 years before retiring at the age of 32.
Wakaluk began his professional career in 1982 with the Pincher Creek Oilers of the Alberta Junior Hockey League, going on to play in the Western Hockey League, International Hockey League and National Hockey League.
Wakaluk played his first game with the Amerks in the 1986-87 season, remaining there until 1991.
It was during this period that he also played his first NHL game with the Buffalo Sabres in the 1988-89 season.
Other NHL franchises with whom Wakaluk spent ice time include the Minnesota North Stars (with whom he became starting goalie), Dallas Stars and Phoenix Coyotes, the last team he played with before his retirement in 1997.
These days, Wakaluk continues to spend time on the ice, just in a different capacity, having worked as the goalie coach for the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen for the past seven years.
 

Wakaluk said he enjoys being able to continue to work with young hockey players and see them grow.
“Some of these kids have such great potential, they just have to bring the work ethic in order to realize their dreams,” he said.
“It’s great to see their energy and passion and know that their dreams are all right in front of them.”
He said coaching is different in many ways from playing, but he still gets worked up each time the team hits the ice.
“I still get butterflies before every one of the games,” said Wakaluk.
“It gets your energy going and keeps you involved in the game.”
Wakaluk also served on the executive for Crowsnest Pass Minor Hockey from 2004 to 2009, during which time he came up with the idea for the annual WHL Thunder Challenge.
“I thought it was a good opportunity for a fundraiser for minor hockey and to give local hockey some exposure,” he said.
“It’s awesome to see the way the community has embraced it. It’s a terrific event for the Crowsnest Pass.”
Wakaluk said he hopes to see local hockey grow and thrive, as all three of his sons have followed in his footsteps.
Wakaluk’s oldest son, 18-year-old Alex, is currently playing Junior A level hockey with the Melville Millionaires of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, 16-year-old Logan is currently playing with the Midget AA Foothills Bisons based in Nanton, and his youngest son, 12-year-old Brock is playing with the Bantam AA Southwest Rockies.
Wakaluk said he is glad to see his kids excelling in a sport which has been such a big part of his life.
“It just warms my heart to see them playing and having fun,” he said. “That’s what really matters.”
Wakaluk’s induction into the Amerks Hall of Fame is preceded by that of his friend and former teammate, Doug Houda, who was inducted last year.
Houda, another Pass native and assistant coach of the Boston Bruins had his name added to the Stanley Cup last year, when the Bruins beat out the Vancouver Canucks in game seven of the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals.
Houda served in the same capacity with the Amerks from 2003 to 2006, having played with the organization in the 1995-96, 1999-00 and 2000-2003 seasons.
Houda made his NHL debut in 1986 with the Detroit Red Wings, going on to play 561 NHL games, scoring 19 goals and 63 assists.
“It’s awesome to see our local hockey talent getting the recognition they deserve,” said Wakaluk.
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