By: Dave McLelland
Like a number of former Kitchener Rangers, Wayne Gowing was born and raised in Kitchener since 1947. His minor hockey experience was gained under the auspices of the Kitchener Police Boys Minor Hockey System who played their games at the Auditorium on Saturday mornings with the ice divided down the centre ice line.
Wayne played for the Kitchener Police Boys from 1957-1964 and was coached by his Dad for most of his minor career. His father was a great influence on him, as well as many other young players in town. In fact, the trophy awarded annually for the best Kitchener Minor Graduate playing for the Rangers is in honour of his Dad – Harold Gowing.
Wayne moved on to play for the Kitchener Greenshirts Junior “B” team from 1964-1967. A highlight from this experience was winning the All-Ontario Championship in 1965. He also played for the Kitchener Rangers in 1966-67 and found playing in front of great and enthusiastic crowds was a thrill. Two road trips still stand out for him: playing in Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto and the Forum in Montreal. Both these great hockey arenas have since been replaced with new facilities, but Wayne remembers exactly what they used to look like.
His Rangers teammates included Walt Tkaczuk, Danny Seguin, Jim Krulicki, Mike Robitaille, Jack Egers, Gary Kurt, Don Luce and Tim Ecclestone to name a few, and Wayne has nothing but good things to say of his old friends: “All of these were outstanding players and great teammates.” He also fondly remembers his coach, Wally Kullman, who had played in the East Coast Hockey League and had great stories to tell: “He was my first coach with the experience to show me what it would take to be a professional hockey player.”
Education was very important to Wayne and his family. He accepted a hockey scholarship from Boston University from 1967-1971 and in his senior year, Boston University became NCAA National Champions. Wayne was a major contributor to the BU success, playing 31 games, scoring 16 goals with 24 assists for a point total of 40 with 6 penalty minutes. With his B Sc. in Physical Education, he moved on to Kent State University and obtained his M Ed. in Athletic Administration in 1973.
But his involvement with education facilities was not to end at Kent. He returned home to join the staff at Wilfrid Laurier University and thus began an outstanding career which included being the Head Ice Hockey Coach for 25 years. While coaching hockey, he also instructed in Kinesiology/Physical Education and was Manager of Athletics & Student Athlete Development and Director of the Laurier Hockey School and Sports Camp. He is still involved in hockey as the Convener of OUA Men’s Hockey.
His Head Hockey Coaching statistics with Laurier are impressive. His league record is 315-192-52 and his teams were OUA Champs in 1983, 1989 and 1990. They made four trips to the CIAU National Championships and were finalists in both ‘89 and ‘90. Wayne was OUAA Coach of the Year four times and in 1993 won CIAU Coach of the Year. He was Assistant Coach of the Ontario Under-17 team in 1995 and became Head Coach of the team the following season. He managed the OUA All-star team at the FISU World University Games in Slovakia in 1999.
Not only does his professional resume make Wayne stand out in Kitchener, but his focus on community involvement as well. He has become involved in the Kitchener Community Hockey School, Can-Am Hockey School, NCCP Instructor and he continues to be Co-ordinator of the Pro-Skate Conditioning Summer Camp. He volunteers for various Provincial and National hockey events at the Auditorium and is a member of the Nominating Committee for the Athlete of the Year Award for K-W and the Townships as well.
When asked if he would change anything in his life, he replied “I have been very fortunate: I played hockey in my hometown, went away to school for six years and returned home to enjoy a very successful coaching career at WLU. We won our first OUA Championship at the Auditorium in 1983. Kevin Casey, Joel Leveque, Steve Bienkowski and Rob Whistle (all former Rangers) were all part of that team”.
He married a local girl Heather nee Shilling and they have two sons, Darren and Matthew and four grandchildren, Noah, Cassidy and twins Benjamin and Nathan. With so many roots in Kitchener, it is clear Wayne Gowing’s hockey legacy will continue for years to come.