Bobcat blazes a trail through hockey career

BOBCAT CUB – Killarney’s Tim Morrison as a young member of arguably the most decorated BU Bobcat hockey team ever. On Saturday morning, Morrison and the rest of the 1980-81 BU Bobcats squad was inducted into Brandon University’s Dick and Verda McDonald Sports Wall of Fame. He was previously inducted as an individual to the BU Sports Wall of Fame in 1994.

Photo Courtesy: S.J. McKee Archives, Brandon University

B.U. Bobcat blazes a trail

The inspiring hockey journey of Tim Morrison is proof that big things come from humble beginnings.

Morrison was born and raised in Hartney, Manitoba, after his family moved from Gainsborough, Saskatchewan. He is the youngest of six siblings and his road to success started in small town rinks on the prairies.

The motivation to succeed was not hard to find for Morrison. His brother Lew laced up his blades in 564 games in the National Hockey League. For Tim, he blazed his trail to greatness at Brandon University. He arrived on campus in 1977, and left a legendary mark on the men’s hockey program after completing his career in 1982.

“When I got to BU I was very young, as I had just graduated high school,” he said. “You are still maturing and growing up. It was a great place to do that and make friends and connections, and at the same time get an education and move on to a career. It was one of the most rewarding times of my life.”

Morrison was a member of arguably the most decorated Bobcat hockey team ever. In 1980-1981, they achieved a No. 1 ranking in Canada for the only time in program history. The BU men’s team went 23-and-1 during the regular season, won the Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC), and earned a berth at the University Cup. Their storybook run came to an end after going winless at the national tournament.

“We had a really good combination of different types of players. We had a good bond between players, and a good combination of talent and grit. We went on a pretty good roll that year, and unfortunately the biggest tournament of our year did not turn out very well,” said Morrison.

Morrison’s final season on campus was a memorable one, as he earned all-Canadian honours and was named BU’s Male Athlete of the Year. He finished the season with 16 goals and a team-leading 53 points.

“I had some great linemates in Clint Haight and John Tweedle,” he said. “A lot of the time it is the guys you play with that help you attain goals. We had good chemistry on our line and had a lot of success.”

After graduation, Morrison spent two-and-half seasons in the professional Division 2 ranks in Germany where he played alongside former teammates Kit Harrison and Gary Kaluzniak.

In 1985, he returned home to western Manitoba to start his distinguished career in education.

“I had a couple of favourite teachers in Hartney when I was going to school,” he said. “They made the classes fun, but they were also interested in sports. I looked at that and thought that might be the way to go for me.”

Morrison’s first full-time teaching job was at Cartwright School in 1985. After class, he could be found at the community rink, where he played with the Clippers and helped them capture multiple Southwest Hockey League titles.

His next teaching stop was Minto School, and then Killarney School, where he stayed for 26 years.

Morrison was also instrumental in starting a high school hockey program in Killarney that grew into a juggernaut in Manitoba.

“I had a lot of volunteers coaching me during my minor hockey days and you want to do the same thing. You want to make sure hockey is strong in the community,” he said.

The Killarney/Wawanesa Raiders reached the pinnacle of high school hockey in 2006 by winning their first-ever provincial title.

“The first championship we won, my son was on the team, so that was special,” said Morrison.

Under Morrison’s guidance, the Raiders’ reign continued, with a Westman High School Hockey League championship in 2008-2009, and back-to-back provincial crowns in 2009 and 2010.

Morrison’s coaching tactics are tied back to his BU playing days, when those motivational strategies were first instilled in him.

“I would like to think so,” he said. “Kids like to score goals, but the defensive part of the game they have to learn. Having gone through that myself, you try to emulate a lot of what the coaches were stressing at the university level.”

Morrison’s memories of his Bobcats’ career came back to the forefront in November of 2016 when the university hosted a highly successful hockey reunion. Over 200 alumni returned home, including Morrison, who was inducted into the BU Sports Wall of Fame in 1994.

“Getting back for the reunion and seeing all the guys again, you realize how much fun you had when you were playing,” he said. “It is almost surreal. There are a lot of great players through the years for BU, and to be in the Wall of Fame is pretty humbling.”

Story courtesy of Brandon University Athletics

TOP COACH – Tim Morrison has won many awards over his storied hockey career, pictured here in April 2010 after winning the Coach of the Month award from the MHSAA, and fresh off winning his second of back-to-back provincial crowns with the Raiders.