|North Bay Battalion|
|Owen Sound Attack|
|Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds|
|Acadie-Bathurst Titan||Baie-Comeau Drakkar|
|Blainville-Boisbriand Armada||Cape Breton Screaming Eagles|
|Charlottetown Islanders||Chicoutimi Sagueneens|
|Drummondville Voltigeurs||Gatineau Olympiques|
|Halifax Mooseheads||Moncton Wildcats|
|Quebec Remparts||Rimouski Oceanic|
|Rouyn-Noranda Huskies||Saint John Sea Dogs|
|Shawinigan Cataractes||Sherbrooke Phoenix|
|Val-d'Or Foreurs||Victoriaville Tigres|
By Lesley Dawson
Jeff Bandura is one of the busiest men in Langley, British Columbia. He manages the 92 teams and 2300 men and women that participate in the Adult Safe Hockey League at the twin rinks at CanLan Ice Sports in Langley.
Seven years ago, Bandura started the Ride for Hope, a B.C. charity that raises money for Canuck Place Children’s Hospice and the young people with life-threatening illnesses who seek these care services. The Ride For Hope has raised over $575,000 for the Canucks for Kids Fund in the years since its creation, with one hundred percent of funds raised by the Ride for Hope going directly to the Canucks for Kids Fund.
Born and raised in the Vancouver area, Bandura tries to stay involved with charities at the local level as much as possible, especially with the Vancouver Canucks, who selected him in the second round of the 1977 Entry draft.
“The Canucks are very dear to my heart as well as the Canucks for Kids Fund,” Bandura said. “It’s touching because it’s so close to home.
Even with the Ride for Hope, Bandura participates in numerous other charity events. Every November, the Hockey Helps the Homeless Tournament travels to Vancouver where Bandura and a host of other former NHLers play to raise both awareness and money to find a solution for the issue of homelessness in Canada.
Aside from his own charity events, Bandura is still active with the Canucks alumni, skating with them once a week throughout the winter and occasionally playing in Canucks charity games.
What is his motivation behind staying so active and involved in the hockey community in Vancouver?
“I’m just trying to ride as fast as I can away from Father Time,” he said.
Along with his remarkable commitment to charities, Bandura represents a rare time in the history of the Portland Winterhawks.
Coming off of a difficult year in Calgary with the Centennials of the Western Canada Junior Hockey League, Bandura transferred to Edmonton for the remainder of the 1975-76 season. He remained with the Oil Kings when the team changed hands to become the newest franchise in the Western Hockey League, the Portland Winterhawks.
This move to Portland provided the validation that Bandura needed after a rough couple of years in Calgary.
“You have to hate to lose more than anything in the world to appreciate what it was like to win and be with a winning team,” Bandura said.
For Bandura and the rest of these new Winterhawks players coming down from Edmonton, Portland was a new city in an unknown land. According to Bandura, the players weren’t even sure what to say to the U.S. border guards when they arrived at the Canada-U.S. border.
“We were 17, 18, and 19 years old driving to Portland,” Bandura said. “We thought, ‘What do we tell them… that we’re going to visit someone?’ and ‘Where’s Portland?’ ”
Even with this element of the unknown, Bandura believes that there is something particularly special about being a part of the Winterhawks organization in its earliest days.
“Portland was a great city and at that time, nobody really thought about any records or accolades – the camaraderie was great,” Bandura said. “I’m proud to say that we were the first guys there, that we set the bar for the rest of the guys to follow.”
At the end of the team’s first year in Portland, Bandura became the first Winterhawks player in team history to be drafted into the NHL.
Bandura’s professional career includes four years in the Central League with the Canucks’ affiliates in Tulsa and Dallas, and a year split between the American League with the New Haven Nighthawks and the New York Rangers.
Since the end of his time in professional hockey, Bandura remains involved as much as he can. During his last professional year in 1984, Bandura met and married his wife Misty. They have two daughters, Brittany, who is 25, and Kylie-Jo, who is 23.
Bandura instilled a love of hockey in both girls at a young age, hiring them on as time keepers. Like Bandura, both of his daughters continue to work in ice rinks in the Vancouver area; one works with Bandura at CanLan Ice Sports, and the other in a competing facility.
Now, almost 40 years since his last game in Portland, Bandura is still one of only three players to hold the record for most goals scored by a defenseman in one playoff series with his four goals against Kamloops in the 1977 playoffs. Michael Sauer and Joe Morrow are the only other players to tie Bandura’s lasting record, Sauer in 2005-06 against Seattle and Morrow in 2010-11 against Kelowna.
Bandura still follows the Winterhawks as much as he can, often listening to the games on the radio and following the team on Twitter. He also stays in the loop with friends who work as both WHL scouts and officials.
Though he only spent a year of his junior career in Portland, Bandura still believes there is something unique about being a Winterhawk.
“Even with the guys I never played with – these guys that have played generations beyond ours – it’s like we’re brothers,” Bandura remarked. “You never actually played on the same team as these guys but you all have that common bond…You’re Winterhawks for life.”
Bandura still has fond memories of all that happened during his year in Portland.
“What a great organization with great people,” Bandura said.
And what does Bandura remember most of all about his time in the Rose City?
“The fans, they were so enthusiastic,” Bandura said. “It was just a great city to play in and such a huge part of my life."
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