For the past 18 seasons, Terry Ogden and the Muskies have dominated the NorWOSSA hockey circuit with 14 first-place finishes while claiming two all-Ontario championships and creating a winning atmosphere here that goes unsurpassed in high school hockey.
But the black-and-gold will have a different look behind the bench this season after Ogden shocked the local hockey world here by announcing his retirement back in late August, just two days into the club's tryout camp, and abruptly handing the coaching reigns to long-time assistant Glen Edwards.
And as quickly as Ogden decided to retire from coaching, the Muskies have wasted little time in honouring their all-time winningest coach (438 career wins) and will thank him for those many years of service with a “Terry Ogden” Appreciation Night, coinciding with their home opener this Tuesday against the Dryden Eagles.
Ogden will be honoured with presentations from the Blueline Booster Club, Fort Frances High School, NorWOSSA, the Board of Education, the town, the Dryden Eagles and Fort Frances Minor Hockey Association.
For many, it will be tough not seeing “TO” behind the black-and-gold bench this season.
“You just couldn't get anyone better [to coach the Muskies] as far as I'm concerned,” said Barney Maher, who started the Muskie hockey program here back in 1964 and is now the president of the Blueline Club.
“The degree of excellence there is what really made it, you look at the guy's record," he said. "He's been around that long and [now] you're going to look over there and he's not going to be there.”
Fort High principal Terry Ellwood, who coached against Ogden for several years while behind the bench in Dryden and Sioux Lookout, will be making a presentation to Ogden on behalf of Fort High and had nothing but high praise for the former University of North Dakota standout.
“Terry was the ultimate competitor, he was the model of the Vince Lombardi of high school hockey in our area," said Ellwood. "The Fort High hockey program was the model we were all striving to get.”
Still, it was Ogden's fiery demeanor and competitive will to win that set him apart from the rest of the coaches in the league, said Ellwood.
"We always had a very [friendly] approach when we were at tournaments together and things like that, but when we got on the ice, you knew you were in a game when you coached against him.
“He was out there to win and you had to admire him for that. Really, he coached his team to win and he trained his players to cover their weaknesses," Ellwood added. "He was the ultimate coach and he was respected by all the coaches in the league for his determination.”
Ellwood said Ogden should be commended for the immeasurable amount of time he has put in working with the kids while still maintaining his job as a teacher at J.W. Walker School.
"People have to realize the amount of time he put in. I worked out just the average amount of hours a coach would be coaching through practices, tournaments, travelling and games, and with his 18 years, basically what that would equate to is two full years of an eight-to-five job.
“That's a lot of hours, and if you look back at him coaching 18 teams, he instilled a lot of hockey in a lot of boys.”
Still, despite the success and the man-hours he put in during his tenure, Ogden admitted he was surprised to have a recognition night in his honour.
“I didn't know what to think when Barney told me," admitted Ogden. ”It's an honour. It's really a nice gesture and I really feel quite honoured.
“I think over the years the greatest thing we achieved was respect," he stressed. "We got it at OFSAA in our league, NorWOSSA, in Minnesota and when we played in Thunder Bay.”