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Terrier's 50th: Yorkton’s loss was Langenburg’s gain

For Darrell Spelay, Bryan Kuspira and Kevin Bryksa, the sunset has included marriage, jobs and senior level hockey with the Langenburg Warriors.
In 1984 three notable Junior Terriers had moved onto senior hockey.

YORKTON - The Yorkton Junior Terriers are celebrating 50 years in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League this season.

To mark the milestone Yorkton This Week is digging into its archives and pulling out a random Terrier-related article from the past five decades of reporting on the team, and will be running one each week, just as it originally appeared.

This feature will appear weekly over the entire season in the pages of The Marketplace.

Week #4 comes from Jan. 24, 1984.

Local hockey legends do not burn out, they just sort of fade into the sunset a little.

Such is the case for three former Yorkton Terriers whose talents helped the club rise to the top of provincial tier 2 hockey and win the Saskatchewan championship last year.

And, for Darrell Spelay, Bryan Kuspira and Kevin Bryksa, the sunset has included marriage, jobs and senior level hockey with the Langenburg Warriors of the Yellowhead Hockey League.

In his four and a half years with Yorkton, Spelay managed to set the all-time career points record in the Saskatchewan Amateur Junior Hockey league.

His 64 goals and 58 assists in his last season took him over the top to a record shattering 451 career points in 246 games.

Following his illustrious career, he rejected U.S. college offers to tryout for Michigan and Wisconsin and vetoed the University of Saskatchewan’s offer. The reason, he states, is simple: “I didn’t feel like going back to school” after being away from it for three years.

Spelay, 21, was married last year and has taken on parental duties with his wife’s four-year-old daughter.

He enjoys his work as a salesperson at K.W. Men’s Wear in Yorkton. The transition from Terrier life to “private citizen” has provided him with “a lot of time on my hands” that he spends with family, playing with the Warriors or just plain “bumming around the arenas,” he says.

The Yellowhead League, he says, is a slower brand of hockey (both in the skating and playmaking departments) but has its “rougher” moments where you “definitely have to keep your head up.”

He explains how in a league without age restrictions, younger, faster players are subjected to “hacking” by others in an effort to slow them down.

As a goal scorer, Spelay has certainly not forgotten where the net is in Langenburg. He is currently the league’s top scorer with 59 points in only 15 games, for an average of nearly four points each game.

Like other ex-Terriers playing in Langenburg, Spelay was offered an attractive contract to join the club and is “treated like gold” by Warrior fans who have filled the local arena like never before since the Terrier invasion.

Spelay has kind words for Terrier head coach Gerry James and the entire hockey operation saying “since he took over, his hockey knowledge has turned the organization around.”

Of the present Terriers, he says although the team did not look overly impressive on paper at the start of the season, “they could probably outskate our team from last year.”

He adds if it does win the provincial championship this season and is provided some time off before playing the Manitoba winner “they stand a better chance of winning,” than last year’s champions. His team rushed into the Dauphin game after it captured the provincial title and, of course, a rather long party followed the triumph over Weyburn.

Spelay’s sales partner at K.W. is Bryan Kuspira, his teammate for many years and last year’s top scorer with the Terriers. Kuspira amassed 61 goals and 74 assists making him the league’s third highest scorer in the 1982-83 season.

Also playing with Langenburg and presently second in league scoring with 56 points, Kuspira describes the senior circuit as ‘different hockey but fun.”

At 21, Kuspira also played four and a half seasons with Yorkton and finds it can, at times, be a problematic tag to wear while skating in the Yellowhead.

“Some players get on your nerves because you played with the Terriers and ask ‘what are you doing here?’” he says.

Kuspira turned down five offers following his departure from the Terriers and, like Spelay, he did not want to attend school in order to play hockey.

The tall, lanky bachelor says once you have attained the 20-year-old mark and do not accept a college scholarship, there is really no place to go with hockey, save for senior level. As Spelay adds, “you don’t get much choice.”

Neither of them appear concerned with the digressive course their hockey careers appear to be taking. They are content playing in Langenburg where a short schedule and limited practices makes for a less hectic pace. It allows them to socialize and work.

Kuspira finds the present Terrier roster to be impressive although he sees a gaping hole at defence which, he adds, may have been filled with the return of Ron Ahenakew.

Although he spent a lot of time in the penalty box last year (327 minutes), Kevin Bryksa managed to score 79 points with the Terriers which is impressive for a defenceman in any league.

Bryksa, 22, plays with Kuspira and Spelay on the Warriors where, he says, a lot of the glory he experienced with the Terriers has diminished.

“Hockey’s beginning to shutdown …. All that’s left is senior hockey and there’s not much of a future there,” he explains.

Married with two children, Bryksa can be seen in another hockey role these days behind the bench of the Bantam A Terriers.

He says he has always felt the role of coach or leader has been a part of his hockey style and he applies this aspect of his game by helping younger players move up in the same minor system he did.

“The little guys seem to listen (to me) … they all thought it was nice to have a (former) Terrier with them,” he says.

Langenburg, he says, offered him the best deal of the five teams that approached him following his career in Yorkton. Although an offer in the International League was attractive, he says there were no jobs in the city he was asked to play in.

He currently works in the dry walling trade at Marty’s Drywall in Yorkton.

He describes his days with the Terriers as “the best of my life” where everything seemed to go right for him and the club.

“Every year I played the team did better … there were no hard roads, everything seemed to go nicely,” he said.

And indeed the Yorkton Terriers were the powerhouse of provincial tier 2 hockey last year largely because the Spelay, Kuspira and Bryksa threat continued game after game.