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Moller knows what the Hamiltons are in store for

by Alain Poupart /
SUNRISE, Fla. -- Welcome to the club. And enjoy the ride.

That was Randy Moller's reaction when he learned that brothers Dougie and Freddie Hamilton would be teammates for Team Canada at the 2012 World Junior Championship.

The Hamiltons will be the second set of brothers to play for Canada at a WJC when this year's tournament is held Dec. 26 to Jan. 5, 2012 in Edmonton and Calgary.

The first brother combination to play for Canada's national junior team was Randy and Mike Moller 30 years ago, at the 1982 WJC.

Hearing about the Hamiltons has brought back great memories for Randy Moller, a long-time NHL player who is in his 12th season as the radio voice of the Florida Panthers.


GOALIES -- Mark Visentin, Niagara, OHL (Phoenix); Scott Wedgewood, Plymouth, OHL (New Jersey).
DEFENSEMEN -- Nathan Beaulieu, Saint John, QMJHL (Montreal); Brandon Gormley, Moncton, QMJHL (Phoenix); Dougie Hamilton, Niagara, OHL (Boston); Scott Harrington, London, OHL (Pittsburgh); Ryan Murray, Everett, WHL (2012 draft eligible); Jamie Oleksiak, Saginaw, OHL (Dallas); Mark Pysyk, Edmonton, WHL (Buffalo).
FORWARDS -- Michael Bournival, Shawinigan, QMJHL (Montreal); Brendan Gallagher, Vancouver, WHL (Montreal); Freddie Hamilton, Niagara, OHL (San Jose); Quinton Howden, Moose Jaw, WHL (Florida); Jonathan Huberdeau, Saint John, QMJHL (Florida); Boone Jenner, Oshawa, OHL (Columbus); Tanner Pearson, Barrie, OHL (2012 draft eligible); Mark Scheifele, Barrie, OHL (Winnipeg); Jaden Schwartz, Colorado College, WCHA (St. Louis); Mark Stone, Brandon, WHL (Ottawa); Devante Smith-Pelly, Anaheim, NHL; Ryan Strome, Niagara, OHL (N.Y. Islanders); Brett Connolly, Tampa Bay, NHL.
"I was excited for them because it is a big thrill," Moller said. "If they have half the pleasure and the thrill of representing their country that my brother Mike and I had, then they're going to have a great time."

However, it's going to be awfully hard for Dougie and Freddie Hamilton to have an experience that matches the one the Moller brothers had 30 years ago.

In that 1982 tournament, Randy and Mike Moller helped Canada win the nation's first gold medal at the elite under-20 international tournament, which had started in 1977. And to top it off, Mike Moller who scored the championship-clinching goal.

The format back then was a round robin among the eight teams, with the team with the best record taking home the gold.

Canada's last game was against Czechoslovakia, and the teams went into the game first and second in the standings, respectively. Canada was 6-0 while the Czechs were 5-1, so a tie was all Canada needed.

Czechoslovakia led 3-2 in the third, but Mike Moller's goal tied the game at 3-3, which became the final score.

"There wasn't a whole lot of time left when he scored it," Randy said. "There's a picture of him scoring the goal and Marc Habscheid was his linemate, he's there with his arms up. And then my brother donated his jersey, and as far as I know, his jersey has been in the Hockey Hall of Fame now for 29 years. They got a nice presentation there of the World Junior Championships. Twenty years ago that was the only thing that was in there as far as the World Juniors. They had a couple of other little things, but they had a nice, big set-up with his jersey with his name on the back. Another special moment for the Moller family from Canada."

That 1982 tournament was a true family affair for the Mollers. The late John Moller was among of group of fathers who followed the team throughout the competition. John Moller later would be part of the organizing committee for the 1995 World Junior Championships in Red Deer, Alta., which Canada also won. The 2012 WJC is the tournament's first time in the province since then.

The 1982 tournament was based in Minnesota, but Canada played its first three games in Winnipeg before shifting to the U.S. for its last four.

One of those Winnipeg games was a 7-0 victory against the Soviet Union, that country's worst defeat to that point.

Canada's gold medal came after the country had placed no higher than
fifth the previous three years.

"There's a lot of storylines to that whole tournament," Randy Moller said. "I guess the organizers didn't have much hope or confidence that Team Canada was going to be competing for the gold medal because we played the final game in Rochester, Minn., in front of 2,000 people, where you had the Finns and the Swedes playing at the Met Center in Minneapolis in front of 16,000 people. The scheduling was a little off. We didn't mind. We got the gold medal.

"We started off in Winnipeg and then we had to go to Minnesota and one thing that stands out is it was just brutally, brutally cold. It was 45 degrees below zero in both places. The other thing that stands out was my father was at the tournament. He and a couple of other fathers, on their own dime, followed the team around. It was great to have him there."

Randy Moller, who had been selected with the 11th pick of the 1981 Entry Draft by the Quebec Nordiques, recorded 3 assists in Canada's seven games.

Mike Moller, a 1980 second-round pick of the Buffalo Sabres, led Canada in scoring with 14 points (5 goals, 9 assists) in seven games and was named to the all- tournament team.

Facing the Czechs and Russians at that time also was a unique experience off the ice. The two countries were under communist rule back then, and Randy recalls how the players from those countries would return from having a meal at their team hotel carrying six-packs of Coca-Cola and fresh fruit under their arms.

Randy also remembers having bought a few pairs of jeans at a Winnipeg mall and then trading a pair to a Russian player for a fur hat — all without one word being exchanged.

Immediately after winning the gold medal, Canada's players went back to their junior or college teams. They were reunited a little while later for a ceremony in Ottawa, which included a chance to meet Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau.

"So we're all in this room and they told us, just stay where you are, there's going to be security and that kind of stuff," Randy said. "We're anticipating that here comes the prime minister and he did come. He came in the room and they kind of told him, blah, blah, blah, blah, and he went like this and like that (two quick waves), and out the door he went. That was it. He just did a walk-by, or a drive-by, or whatever. We kind of sat there going, OK, all right, that was kind of neat. Geez, I got about 25 feet from him, and then that was it, he was gone. That was cool that we were able to do that."

There will be another reunion for that 1982 gold medal-winning team at this year's tournament, but Randy won't be able to attend because of his Panthers obligations.

Mike Moller, who owns an insurance company in Red Deer, Alta., is the radio voice of the Red Deer Rebels of the Western Hockey League, and he will be there.

"It's hard to believe it's 30 years ago," Randy said. "You start thinking 10 years, 20 years -- it's 30 years. I'm a little sad that they're having a reunion and they're bringing back that team and my brother will be there, but there's a lot of guys, like myself, that are working for NHL teams or coaching or broadcasting. Troy Murray was the captain that year and he's working for the Chicago Blackhawks; he can't attend, as well.

"It's going to be a little bittersweet, but I'm really proud that Hockey Canada is recognizing that team. It's the 30-year anniversary and they're inviting all the players back and they're going to have a couple of special ceremonies, so that should be a lot of fun."

Even if Randy Moller won’t be there to relive those memories with his former national teammates, they're not about to fade away.

That experience ranks right at the top in a hockey career that included 14 NHL seasons, with the Nordiques, Rangers, Sabres and Panthers.

"Right up there," Randy said of his golden tournament. "Disappointingly, I never played in the Stanley Cup (Final). I made it to the semifinals twice, never won a Stanley Cup. To win a gold medal, represent your country, play it with your brother and experience it with your brother, and then have your brother score the clinching goal to win the gold medal, and then have your father be there as well to be a part of it before he passed away was special memories for me.

"I enjoyed my career in the NHL, but that's a special, special, special one."
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