Monday, September 07, 2009

Absurd Goalie Monday: Pokey and The Bandit

For the picture alone, I expect hits out the wazoo (heh), but for the Burt Reynolds reference on the picture; I expect nothing less than legends status. However, even though these fine pre-Bob Essensa Winnipeg Jets netminders look like they would have nothing in common, their careers are more parallel than many people may think. And while the "Pokey and the Bandit" regime only last three seasons in Manitoba's capital, afterwards, both seemed to be buried in the minor league bus trips for the rest of their careers.

But to start off, we have Pokey Reddick, who spent the first three years being the workhorse in the WHL, playing 66 and 50 games in his first two seasons. Then, for his third season, he played 47 in the WHL, before going to the IHL with the Fort Wayne Komets and spending time with the Sherbrooke Canadiens in the AHL. In his first full pro season with Fort Wayne, Reddick went 15-11-0 with three shutouts, though that was not his best moment while in Fort Wayne, but we'll get to that later. Reddick then got his break with the Winnipeg Jets for his first NHL season in '86-'87, where he got the majority of starts over Berthiaume and Steve Penney. He went an even .500 going 21-21-4, but it wasn't enough. The next season, Reddick was bounced between Winnipeg and the AHL affiliate Moncton. His inconsistency in that season, as well as following season when he got the most starts in Winnipeg before Essensa finally took over and Reddick was put out and traded to the Edmonton Oilers.

The next three seasons, Reddick was bouncing between Edmonton and Cape Breton, though Cape Breton was where he spent most of his time during his tenure with the Oilers organzation. However, Reddick was able to get into the Oilers roster during the 1990 playoffs, which was enough to earn him a place on the Stanley Cup trophy. During the '92-'93 season, Reddick went back to Fort Wayne, where he got most of his acclaim. That season, Reddick went 33-16-4, which was a career best for him at that point-- but in the playoffs is where Reddick was able to shine through. In those playoffs, Reddick went the first three rounds of the playoffs without a lose on his record, which is a record that stands to this point on any form of professional hockey. For that, Reddick won the playoff MVP.

While, Reddick was able to get a contract with the Florida Panthers, he only spent two games with the big club; Reddick was again resigned to duty for the Cincinnati Cyclones of the IHL. It was Reddick's last grasp of the big league, but after that, he became a minor league hero. Reddick bounced around the IHL (Las Vegas, Grand Rapids, San Antonio, Kansas City, and Fort Wayne) where he prospered more often than not, until towards the end of this tenure, where he was reduced to more of a back-up role than anything else. After his role diminished in North America, Reddick went to Germany to play for the Frankfut Lions, where his save percentage and goals-against average were amongst the best in his career. He spent three years in the DEL, before coming back to North America for a few games back with Fort Wayne, once they moved to the UHL. After nine games, Reddick retired from professional hockey, though he stays in the game as a goaltending coach for the USHL's Tri-City Storm.

Meanwhile, the second part of this fantastic tandem, "The Bandit" Daniel Berthiaume had a fairly stellar career in his junior days. In fact, during his draft year, Berthiaume went 40-11-2; which was able to get him drafted in the third round by the Winnipeg Jets. Berthiaume spent another season in the QMJHL before making the jump to the AHL in Sherbrooke. The next season, he started out with Sherbrooke before heading to Winnipeg, in which he had an impressive display going 18-7-3 in 31 appearances in the '86-'87 season. That performance gave him the starting role for '87-'88, in which he held his own posting a 22-19-7 season. After that, however, Berthiaume faltered, going 0-8-0 to start the season and was sent down to Moncton in order to give Essensa and Alain Chevrier a chance behind Reddick.

The first half of the '89-'90 season, Berthiaume tried to regain his starter status in Winnipeg, but after going 10-11-3; the Jets decided to ship Berthiaume off to Minnesota in January of 1990, where Berthiaume went to back-up Jon Casey. Five uneventful games later, the North Stars packed up Berthiaume and sent him to Los Angeles. In his first season, The Bandit kind of got his groove back, going an impressive 20-11-4 backing up Kelly Hrudey on a team that was tied for the third most wins in the league. However, that next season, Berthiaume struggled with a 7-10-1 start, for which the Kings shipped him off to Boston. In Boston, Berthiaume went 1-4-2 backing up Andy Moog when Reggie Lemelin went down. During the summer, Berthiaume was traded to the Winnipeg Jets, but never appeared for them again, opting to go to Switzerland for half of the season in 1992.

A free agent, Berthiaume got another chance with the Ottawa Senators who signed him in December of 1992. Berthiaume was on a horrid expansion team, backing up Peter Sidorkiewicz, going 2-17-1 in that first season. The Bandit made one final appearance with Ottawa before being sent down to the PEI Senators of the AHL, where he went 8-16-3 before being traded to the Detroit Red Wings, where he stayed in the AHL with Adirondack-- for which we went 7-2-0 during his 11 games there. Aside from two games in Providence in the AHL and 12 in the IHL with Detroit, it would be the last time Berthiaume would be at that high of a level of play again.

However, Berthiaume made his mark in the ECHL, mostly playing with the Roanoke Express. He started with the Wheeling Thunderbirds, going 6-1-1, before he was shipped to Roanoke; as well as trips up and down to the IHL and AHL. He flourished in Roanoke, going 37-17-5 in his first tenure, then 105-66-19 in his second tenure. Those tenures were split up after a season in the WPHL with the Central-Texas Stampede, which garnered him Most Oustanding Goaltender in the '96-'97 season. Berthiaume spent two more seasons in the ECHL, playing for the Greensboro Generals going 53-32-6. Berthiaume played in the UHL for the Port Huron Beacons for his last professional season, which was dismal at best with seven wins in 31 games.

It should also be noted that Berthiaume played goalie in the ill-fated Roller Hockey International, playing for the New Jersey Rock N' Rollers, Detroit Motor City Mustangs, and Philadelphia Bulldogs.

After leaving hockey, Berthiaume got away from hockey and went into his next love, the outdoors. Residing in Hardy, Virginia; Berthiaume owns and operates a striped bass fishery called "Captain Bert's Fishin' Charters", which is along the Roanoke River in Smith Mountain Lake.


While they may look like they're career paths took different roads, which could have been the case with Berthiaume's longer NHL resume, they both made their mark in Winnipeg and then moved onward to minor league glory. Some times, the success in the minors mean more to some people than any success in the big leagues. Both Reddick and Berthiaume will be remembered by those who knew them in the minor league cities they played in, especially Reddick, who seems to be a legend in Fort Wayne hockey lore. They had paided their dues and at the end of the day, they were able to succeed in one form or another in one league or another.

And now, they are forever immortalized in the AGM lexicon.


Vince said...

Lived in Cape Breton 'til I was 18....saw Pokey play probably at least 10 times and met him once when I was like 10 or 11 year old....great article

Anonymous said...

I went to elementary school with Pokey's son who's playing in michigan now.