The Calgary Junior "A" Royals franchise can trace its beginnings back to Crowsnest Pass as a new entry in the AJHL for the 1972-73 season.
John Chapman was the first coach of The Pass Red Devils, and Dick Koentges the first team President. The Red Devils played out of the Blairmore Arena and was one of two farm clubs sponsored by Scotty Munro and the Calgary Centennials. The franchise´s second year was their best in four seasons in the Crowsnest Pass. That winter, the Red Devils topped their six-team division and lost four games to one in the best of seven AJHL Finals to the Red Deer Rustlers.
At the conclusion of the 1975-76 season, the Pass Red Devils moved to Pincher Creek and started the 1976-77 season as the Pincher Creek Panthers. Garth Valley was the team's General Manager.
The Panthers won just four of their first 14 starts and replaced coach Clint Shambrook before the end of October. Under new coach Wes Phillips, the club nosed into the playoffs at the end of the season, but lost Phillips to the Calgary Centennials when the parent club underwent a sudden late season shake-up. Rollie Cote assumed Panther coaching duties on the eve of the team's opening playoff game against the powerhouse Calgary Canucks. The Panthers won the first game in the best of seven series 5-1, but the Canucks went on to win the next four games.
The 1977-78 season brought several changes for the Panthers. Majority ownership in the club was sold to ten local residents, Ron Pearpoint was appointed as coach and the team name was changed to the Pincher Creek Chinooks.
Once again the team endured a mid-season coaching change that saw Ron Zukiwsky, a shareholder of the club, take over after the resignation of Pearpoint. In the playoffs, the sixth place Chinooks lined up against the first place Calgary Canucks. The Canucks went on to win the series and the AJHL Championship.
The beginning of the 1978-79 season saw the Pincher Creek Chinooks move to Calgary and become the Calgary Chinooks. The move coincided with the relocation of the Calgary Centennials to Billings, Montana, where they became the Billings Bighorns. It would be the end of the affiliation between the two clubs.
Chinook coach Bruce Southern doubled as an assistant coach with the new Calgary WHL entry named the Wranglers, and the two teams developed a working relationship. New Chinook management included Jim Holden as General Manager and Wilf Richard as President.
The 1979-80 season brought about further changes to the franchise. Once again under new ownership the Calgary Chinooks became the Calgary Spurs. Richard and Jim Kerr became majority owners of the team and Jack Schofield its coach. When work commitments forced Schofield to resign six weeks later, former NHL player Ron Stewart assumed the reins. The team reached the AJHL playoffs, but were bumped out by the Red Deer Rustlers who went on to capture the Centennial Cup.
In the 1980-81 playoffs, the Spurs lost to Red Deer in the Southern Division Final. The two teams met again in the Southern Final the following season and the Spurs won the series four games to one, and advanced to the AJHL Final for the second time in franchise history. In the AJHL Championship series, the Spurs went on to meet the St. Albert Saints, who defeated the Spurs in the seventh and deciding game 6-3.
The Spurs started the 1982-83 season under new coach Wally Kozak. Two games into the season Wally Kozak resigned and Stan Jaycock took over as head coach. The next three seasons saw a continuation of the coaching changes and a lack of success in the playoffs. Jim Holden started the 1983-84 season as coach, only to be replaced by former player Kevin Ginnell in December. Dan MacDonald assumed the coaching duties in the 1984-85 and lasted the entire season. The last years of operation under Wilf Richard's ownership, 1985-86, saw Chris Stewart take over the coaching duties.
At the end of the 1985-86 season the Calgary Spurs had a new ownership group - Les Currie, Craig Willis and Wayne Hicks; a new coach in Erv Zeimer, and a refurbished Foothills Arena, renamed Father David Bauer. Zeimer was replaced in November by Dave Smith and the team bowed out to Red Deer in the first round of playoffs. Wayne Hicks took over the coaching duties for the 1987-88 season but once again however, it was an early exit from the playoffs, this time at the hands of the Canucks.
In 1988-89 Keith Wilson took over as General Manager and Bob Loucks assumed the coaching duties of the Spurs, and by mid season had the club challenging Red Deer for first place. The team posted a record of 34-24-2, however playoffs resulted in another early and long ride home from Red Deer. The last season for the Spurs saw Dave Smith start the season as coach only to be replaced by Stu MacGregor in mid-season. The Spurs lost game three to the Olds Grizzlies in what was the longest overtime game in AJHL playoff history. It was the last game for the Spurs who ceased operations at the end of the 1989-90 season.
With the Calgary Spurs folding, and the franchise in limbo, the AJHL looked to be reduced to a 7 team league with just one team operating in the Calgary area. Calgary business and well known hockey man Don McCallum had expressed some interest in the past of operating a Junior "A" hockey team in Calgary. The opportunity presented itself when the Spurs franchise became available, so he recruited another well known business and hockey man Ed Melville to assist him in pursuing this opportunity. Don McCallum and Ed Melville then negotiated with the Calgary Spur's owners for the purchase of the franchise. Once the franchise - thanks to some assistance from the South West Athletic Association - was secured, the Calgary Junior 'A' Royals were born. In the 1990-91 season, the Calgary Junior "A" Royals became the 8th team in the AJHL, joining the likes of the Calgary Canucks, Fort Saskatchewan Traders, Olds Grizzlies, St. Albert Saints, Lloydminster Blazers, Fort McMurray Oil Barons and the Sherwood Park Crusaders.
Melville and McCallum were then joined by two other well known Calgary hockey men: Fred Wynne and Doug Eastcott. Doug Eastcott was also one of the founding fathers of the other Calgary Junior "A" team, the crosstown Calgary Canucks. The Royals´ founders realized the importance of having 2 Junior "A" hockey teams in Calgary so that kids from the city and its neighbouring communities could combine a high level of hockey with an education and be successful at both. The Royals´ first head coach in 1990-91 was Garth Malarchuk who led the Royals to a second place regular season finish with a record of 34-18-4. In the playoffs, the Royals defeated the Calgary Canucks, the Fort McMurray Oil Barons, and finally the AJHL Regular Season champion Fort Saskatchewan Traders to capture the first AJHL championship in franchise history. A career opportunity forced coach Garth Malarchuk to resign after the 1990-91 season. Coaches who followed Malarchuck included Erv Zeimer (1991-92), Pat Loyer (1992-93), Bruno Baseotto (1993-94 to 96-97), Doug Irwin (1997-1998), Mark Frank (1998-99 to 1999-2000), Doug Hergenhein (2000-2005), Brad Cobb (2005-2006), Ryan Barrett (2006-2008), and Jeff Peters (2008 to 2010).
In the 15 years since that inaugural season, the league has grown and prospered in ways no one could have imagined. The addition of the Bonnyville Pontiacs, Drayton Valley Thunder, Camrose Kodiaks, Canmore Eagles, Drumheller Dragons, Brooks Bandits, Grande Prairie Storm and the Crowsnest Pass Timberwolves saw the league double in size. The St. Albert Saints relocated to Spruce Grove retaining the "A" name, and the Crowsnest Pass Timberwolves ceased operations in 2004-05 while they relocated to Okotoks and entered the 2005-06 season as the Okotoks Oilers. The Olds Grizzlies, Calgary Canucks, Fort McMurray Oil Barons, Camrose Kodiaks and Brooks Bandits have all captured the Royal Bank Cup - symbolic of the National Junior "A" Championship. This reinforces the belief the AJHL is one of the premier Junior "A" leagues in the World. The Alberta Junior Hockey League is dedicated to furnishing its athletes with the best available opportunities for future development and growth, and supports its players through assistance in their academic, athletic and personal lives throughout their pursuit of individual goals.
The team took on a new identity in 2010, becoming the Calgary Mustangs. Since then, the Mustangs have continued their pursuit of the AJHL and National Jr. A titles as part of the Calgary sports scene. Under current coach Tyler Drader, the team has continued to try and build a team that the community could be proud of, and we hope to continue that process with an intriguing nucleus of young talent heading into the 2018-19 season.
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