By JAMES TUBB on February 3, 2024.
Former NHL goaltender and Medicine Hat product Blaine Lacher passed away Jan. 29.
The 53-year-old played 47 games in the National Hockey League with the Boston Bruins in the 1994-95 and 1995-96 seasons, suiting up in five postseason games for the black and gold.
Lacher played for the Medicine Hat Cubs and won two regular season championships in 1986-1987 and 1987-1988, as well as a league championship in the 1987-88 season.
Lacher’s No. 1 is one of four numbers retired by the Cubs, with his banner hanging alongside the likes of Murray Craven, Justin Bremer and, most recently, Terry Bartman.
“His success and passion both on and off the ice earned that name and number to be forever his within the Cubs organization,” a press release read Friday from the Cubs. “He will always be an influence to those players that don the orange and black to work hard and follow your dreams, because dreams do come true.”
After his success with the Cubs, Lacher played three seasons with the Melville Millionaires of the SJHL. He then moved to Michigan to play three seasons in the NCAA with the Lake Superior State University, winning a national championship in 1994. He was signed by the Burins as a free agent in 1994, playing two seasons in the organization before his pro career ended in 1996-97 with the Grand Rapids Griffins.
Lacher played alongside Red Deer Rebels assistant coach Clayton Beddoes for three seasons at Lake Superior State, with both being named to the all-tournament team on the run to the national championship.
Beddoes was shocked to learn about his close friend and former teammate passing, and says he’s remembered for his competitiveness.
“It’s what drove him and it picked up his teammates a lot too, in practice and in games,” Beddoes said. “He was a very intense guy, but at the same time a great teammate and a guy who was always there for you and always there with the group. He helped drive us to the national championships, there’s no way we would have won without him.”
Beddoes says Lacher won the practice battles between the two, stopping more of his shots than found the back of the net. He credits Lacher for getting him his shot in the NHL.
Beddoes was also signed by the Bruins following their national championship win, and says Bruins scouts came to the Frozen Four to watch the goaltender but he was able to catch their eye at the same time.
“It was his outstanding play that got me noticed,” Beddoes said.
The 1994 championship roster from Lake Superior State University is set to meet this summer to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their national title. Beddoes says they haven’t yet planned how yet, but knows they will honour their late teammate and friend.
While he guarantees it will be done over some beers, Beddoes says it will be an emotional time of reminiscing.
“We’re all pretty surprised with the fact that he’s gone, he’s such a strong personality, and sometimes it got him in trouble, but it’s also what drove him and what made him successful. We all fed off of that,” Beddoes said.
“He’s the kind of guy you love to have on your team but hate to play against.”