By Percy Hebert - Quesnel Cariboo Observer
Published: September 30, 2011 2:00 PM
The exploits of the original Quesnel Kangaroos senior men’s hockey team is part of the folklore of the city of Quesnel. Names like Marsh and Gassoff are essentially household names, all linked with the glory that was the Quesnel Kangaroos.
Saturday, Oct. 1, after an absence of more than 10 years, the Quesnel Kangaroos return to the ice at Twin Arenas as a franchise in the 10-team Central Interior Hockey League.
When they step on the ice, the ‘Roos will have more than 30 years of tradition behind them, including 11 Coy Cups as B.C. senior hockey champions, a few western Canadian championships and two trips to the Allan Cup for the Canadian senior hockey championships.
The tradition of those teams is also found in the current edition of the Quesnel Kangaroos, beginning at the very top with Jack Marsh as team president.
The Marsh family has a storied hockey history in Quesnel, dating back to 1938 when dad John and uncle Richard played with the team that eventually became the Quesnel Kangaroos.
Several of the Marsh brothers, including Jack, suited up for the ‘Roos and contributed to championship teams through the 1984-1985 season, including trips to Canadian championships.
Jack, who played 10 seasons with the ‘Roos in the 70’s and 80’s as well as a few years as bench boss, said the decision to join the team was a relatively easy one.
“I’ve been involved with hockey most of my life and I thought I would help them get off the ground,” Marsh said of his decision to accept the nomination as team president.
Although content with his decision to take on the responsibilities of team president, Marsh did admit expectations had changed.“It’s certainly more work than I thought,” he said with a laugh. “There’s a lot of work behind the scenes to get things organized.”
Marsh and the rest of the executive were busy over the summer with a variety of tasks, which included lining up volunteers and sponsors, as well as selling game tickets.
Season’s tickets include nine home games and go for $80, whereas single game tickets for adults are $10. Marsh said the team has tickets at reduced prices for senior as well as youth.
Although the ‘Roos are a smaller operation than the departed junior A Quesnel Millionaires​, there are still bills to pay and Marsh said the team hopes to draw 400 fans for each of the nine home games. “The bills pile up fast,” Marsh said. “If we average 400 fans a game I think we’ll be doing very well.” At present the ‘Roos are just under half way to that goal, having sold 160 season tickets thus far.
In the end, Marsh said, only one thing could guarantee strong crowds. “We have to put a good product on the ice, that’s the bottom line,” he said.
The push to get the Quesnel Kangaroos up and running again began earlier this summer with the efforts of Curtis Gassoff, a member of the Gassoff hockey clan. His father Ken and uncles Brad and Gary suited up for the Roos at some point in their hockey careers.
Ken was drafted by the New York Rangers, Brad played for the Canucks and Gary had a stint with the Vernon Vikings, later the Vernon Vipers. “When I was a kid I remember going to Kangaroos games,” Gassoff said with a smile tinted with memories.
The Kangaroos are in the CIHL eastern division along with the Omineca Ice, Williams Lake Stampeders and Lac La Hache Tomahawks.
The western division includes Prince Rupert Rampage, Kitimat Ice Demons and Terrace River Kings, whereas the central division includes the Hazelton Wolverines, Smithers Steelheads and Houston Luckies.
The top two teams in each division will make the playoffs as will two wild card teams, the two teams with the highest points among the four remaining teams.
The Quesnel Kangaroos have nine home games and nine road games, travelling as far as Prince Rupert to take on the Rampage. The ‘Roos will also face south division rivals, the Williams Lake Stampeders four times, twice at home, Nov. 13 and Dec. 10, as well as twice in Williams Lake, Oct. 22 and Dec. 3. “I think we’ll see a good brand of hockey,” Marsh said. “Senior hockey has been around for a long time and it has a good reputation.”
From the players perspective, all of the ingredients for a successful season seem to be in place, from the talent to the respect for tradition. “There’s a large group of very skilled players in Quesnel capable of competing and winning,” Gassoff said confidently. “We just want to play hockey.”
Teammate Paul Girodat, who has several years of junior and European hockey experience said, the bottom line was tradition, the tradition of the Kangaroos being a hard-working team, a tradition he and the other players hope to honour with their play. “One thing for sure, these guys will never stop trying,” Girodat said.