2002 Spengler Cup Has Distinct Crunch Flavor

By Jeff Parzych
Six Former Players and One Ex-Jacket Dot Rosters

With the NHL and AHL seasons in full swing and the World Junior Championships heating up in Halifax, it is no surprise that this years edition of the Spengler Cup receives very little attention in North America. That didn’t deter the tournament’s host, HC Davos of Switzerland, from holding the over 70 year-old tourney this past week.

This year’s results, regardless of the outcomes in Halifax, would give the people in Canada reason to smile has their boys would defeat HC Davos 3-2 in the championship game to claim this year’s Spengler Cup. The Canadians would finish the tournament with a record of 5-0 en route to winning their fifth Spengler Cup, as they were also victorious in ‘95, ‘96, ‘97, and ‘98. They would also avenge the two prior losses over the last two years in the championship game to the Swiss team.

While the people in Canada can obviously derive a sense on national pride from the victory, the fan’s of the Syracuse Crunch also may have something to feel good about with as many as six players from the five team tourney having honed their skills at one point in a Syracuse uniform.

Leading that list is the all-time leader for the Crunch in almost every offensive category, Lonny Bohonos. The Winnipeg native, who went on to play for the Toronto Maple Leafs before heading over to Switzerland a few years back, made the tournament’s All-Star Team and was also named Tournament MVP.

Another former Crunch player, Brian Bonin, was a teammate of Bohonos on HC Davos. Bonin played 134 games in Syracuse, recording 116 points (50g,66a) over that time.

Also participating in the event were a number of Crunch alumni playing for the champion Canadians. Corey Hirsch, who patrolled the crease for two years with the Crunch, registering 32 wins, the third most in franchise history, manned the nets for the Canadian Nationals.

Jamie Heward also played a major role in Team Canada’s victory and was named to the All Tournament Team. Heward, who now plays in the Swiss League for Zurich, played in Syracuse late last season and was a major component in the Crunch’s run to the Western Conference Semifinals. Brandon Convery, who also played for Canada, appeared briefly in a Crunch uniform in 1998 after being acquired in a trade by Vancouver from the Toronto Maple Leafs for the previously mentioned Lonny Bohonos.

One other name from the not so distant Crunch past who played for Sparta Prag was Martin Spanhel. The former Sabre draft pick who was signed by the Blue Jackets as a free agent in June of 2000, appeared in 50 games for Syracuse last season before disappearing in March after an injury.

Rounding out the list is Tuomas Gronman who played for Turko in the tourney. Gronman appeared in 33 games for the Crunch during the 1997-98 season, recording 6 goals and 14 assists. Also playing for Turku was Petteri Nummelin, Columbus’s third pick, 133rd overall, in the 2000 Entry Draft, who was traded earlier this season for current Crunch player Pauli Levokari and also Tomi Kallio.

The western New York area has had previous ties to the Spengler Cup in the past after having the Rochester Americans play in the tourney back in 1996. By appearing that year the Americans became the first North American team to compete in the over 70 year old tournament.

The finished in third with a record of 2-2. Manning the nets for Rochester was current Carolina Hurricane, Kevin Weekes. Weekes, who was property of the Florida Panthers at the time and playing for the now defunct Carolina Monarchs, was loaned to Rochester for the tournament and left that year with the tourney’s MVP award.