Although Ross Gilchrist resides on Canada’s west coast, a part of his heart is definitely in Humboldt.
The Victoria, B.C. businessman played for the Humboldt Broncos’ championship teams in 1971-73. He is the Director, Communications for the newly formed Humboldt Broncos Alumni Association.
“My years in Humboldt had a significant impact on my life and future success,” Gilchrist said.
He came to Humboldt following a trade from the Western Hockey League’s Edmonton Oil Kings to the Swift Current Broncos. Gilchrist was assigned to the Humboldt squad, which he said was a farm team for Swift Current.
“What’s most memorable was the talented team members, the great coaching and management as well as my billet family, Dr. James and Ann Morton. In addition, the community of Humboldt was so supportive and welcoming for a 17-year-old kid from an even smaller town,” the Milestone product said.
Gilchrist noted that he was sad to hear about the passing of former Broncos trainer, equipment manager, and long-time supporter Elgar Petersen.
“He meant a great deal to all the players,” Gilchrist said.
The Humboldt team compiled a 61-31 record during Gilchrist’s two seasons. The Broncos won back-to-back Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League championships. Gilchrist said the team had a very high “compete gene.”
“Many of us had played on winning teams in minor hockey and we knew we could win,” he said. “We were very fit, fast and tough. We got off to fast starts in our seasons. A real sense of team ‘I’ve got your back’ attitude.”
Gilchrist also noted that Dr. Terry Henning provided progressive coaching. His former player said that the head coach introduced a Russian-style power play after viewing the Canada/Russia 1972 Summit Series. Gilchrist also praised the scouting and management of Dr. Gerry Rooney and the community support the Broncos received.
“We all enjoyed celebrity status,” he said.
After graduating from the Humboldt Collegiate Institute, Gilchrist worked for M.S. Deutscher & Co., the local chartered accounting firm. He said that gave him his start in the business world. Gilchrist studied commerce at the University of Saskatchewan. He went on to pursue a financial services career in Calgary and Toronto for many years.
Currently Gilchrist is the co-founder and senior partner of The Next Institute. The boutique business consultancy is headquartered in Calgary.
“We help companies formulate their future strategic direction and design and deliver the leadership learning to realize the that future,” said Gilchrist, who noted clients have included The Home Depot (Toronto), ATB Financial (Edmonton), and Mountain Equipment Co-op (Vancouver).
In September, Gilchrist returned to Humboldt for the team’s home opener. The new alumni association had about 50 members attend the team’s first game of the season on Sept. 12.
The day before the Humboldt 1972-1973 championship squad held a reunion. Of the 22 players, 16 former Broncos and their spouses attended.
“We had a great time reconnecting and share old war stories, some of which actually happened,” Gilchrist said.
Like many ex-Bombers, he is still interested in the team. Gilchrist said he thought new head coach Nathan Oystrick and the squad are doing phenomenally. Only three players returned to the team following the April 6 bus crash.
“Given they had to start from scratch, it’s way beyond anyone’s expectations (except for maybe Nathan’s),” he said. “This team reminds me of our team. They play fast and in your face plus some good goaltending. I think they are highly motivated and should get better as the season goes on.”