1991-92... What a Season!
Wednesday night, April 9, 1992, Des Moines forward Randy Hankinson fired the biggest goal of his career past Dubuque goalie Eustice King to mark a milestone in Buccaneer history. With that overtime goal, Des Moines won its first-ever Clark Cup, the trophy awarded to the USHL playoff champions.
But the Bucs were not through making history. They traveled to Omaha to represent the USHL in the National Championships. They tore through the Detroit Jr. Red Wings, 8 - 4, to open the tournament. The next day they slipped by the Indianapolis Ice, 5 - 3. Friday afternoon they met up with the NAJHL powerhouse Detroit Compuware... and put them away, 7 - 4.
In the semi-final game on Saturday against Indianapolis, the Bucs jumped to a commanding 5 goal lead. Mid-way through the third period the Ice finally were able to slip a goal past goalie Paul Sass and put an end to his shut-out bid. Without hesitation, Coach Ferguson called Sass to the bench. He sent the two-year veteran Kevin Deschambault in to finish the game. The large crowd of Des Moines fans who made the trip to Omaha welcomed Kevin by chanting "DAY-CHAM-BEAU!... DAY-CHAM-BEAU!" Then they showed their appreciation for Paul's outstanding efforts by calling out in unison "Thank you Saas!" The chants brought tears to the eyes of Paul's parents and his father exclaimed "I've never seen a crowd do that in all my years of watching hockey." It was truly a moving event in the 12 year history of the Buccaneer franchise.
But, the crowning moment came on Easter Sunday when USHL president David Tyler presented the trophy to the National Jr. A Champions - the Des Moines Buccaneers - after they routed the Detroit Compuware team again. This time the score was 9 - 1, before 3,398 screaming fans, the largest crowd ever to witness a Junior National final game.
The championship was the 7 th straight for the USHL. Sioux City, led by our own Bob Ferguson started the string in 1986. With the victory in 1992, he became the first coach to win the championship with two different teams.
Of the championships, Bob said "The first one was special because it was my first one. But also because my brother Tim scored the winning goal in overtime to win it. But we won that one on talent. This one, we won as a team. I know it sounds corny when you use words like 'mission' and 'focus' but they've been a team all year. They have relied on each other from the beginning. This is as close of a team as I've coached.
The Bucs fell short of only one objective last season. In the final game of the regular season, they dropped a 4 - 2 decision to St. Paul to finish one point behind Thunder Bay for the season championship. Despite that loss, 1991-92 was the most successful season in franchise history. Winning 35, losing just 11, with 2 ties and 1 bonus point for an overtime loss, gave them 73 points for the year... and another goal for the future.