Maroon Memories: Wiseman Sets Records in Magical Season
When you are a young hockey player growing up in Chatham, the Chatham Maroons are everything. The team carries the city’s hopes on their backs and the players are looked up to and admired as the best players in the town. When you grow up in a household like mine where relatives played for the storied franchise, the history and tradition runs deep, and I bought in hook line and sinker.
My grandparents basement walls had pictures of the Maroon teams that my uncles Herb and Mel played for during the early to mid 1960’s. The stories of their Maroon playoff battles in the Border Cities League and line mates such as Eddie Wright, Mickey Gray and Carl Lindros were told to me like folklore of the golden days of Chatham Maroons junior hockey. I was told stories of the late great coach Copper Leyte.
I followed the Maroons like a religion from the early eighties to the late nineties, and once old enough, it was where my buddies and I would meet every Sunday night. During that era there were some very good teams and very good players that rolled through the maroon and white room in the hallowed halls of Chatham Memorial Arena. Scott Hope, Rob Vanderydt, Gary St.Pierre, Dean Brown and Darren McClusky are a few of the key names that I remember.
Out of all of the good seasons and good memories recalled and witnessed over the years, I know above all else, I was lucky to have witnessed the era of the very best Maroon of all time, current assistant coach of the Michigan Wolverines, Brian Wiseman.
One of my fondest memories watching the Maroons is of the magical season in 1989-90 when Wiseman was leading a very good Maroons team and chasing Eddie Olczyk’s Jr. B record for most points in a season. The Maroons were temporarily called the Mic Macs then and Wiseman was on an incredible pace that season. It was evident that he had a legitimate shot at the record early on in the season. The city was a-buzz that winter and the snowball effect engulfed even non-hockey citizens and had the 3000 seat, historic arena packed to the rafters from Christmas on. I specifically loved watching Wiseman and his line mates Darryl Bossence and Rick Lacroix play back then and went to almost every Maroon home game in that magical record-breaking season. You had to go to the rink early to get tickets in the regular season that year, something that had never been a problem in any other season.
The diminutive center was special that season, racking up points night after night, with many coming in highlight reel fashion in the days before much video footage was around. I witnessed him dismantle teams single handedly and in every different way on his way to leading the Maroons night after night, against some of the toughest teams the league has ever had. One night Wiseman would get a hat trick, the next night five assists, and it seemed he got better game after game in that record breaking season.
He ended up with 70 goals and 77 assists in 40 games in that one year and broke the league’s single season point and assist records while falling just three shy of Bill Lockhead’s goal record of 73. It wasn’t just the straight statistics. Wiseman wasn’t a big plodding “Jason Allison” type of player, he was fiery and slick and in my opinion, had the greatest hockey IQ of any player in Maroon history.
He was Gretzky-like in his hockey sense, something I witnessed very early in his minor hockey days, when he would play as a sub on my older brother’s team. My brother Dave was one year older than Wiseman and I went to all of his games. His team had some very good minor hockey players growing up, guys like Scott Dunlop, Jamie Lucier, Paul Sloan, Ryan Brady, the late Todd Boughner, Tim Cox, Darren Teeuwen and Colin McGregor. Wiseman would sub in for them when he was a peewee and they were in bantam and he was always the best player on the ice by far, and often got my brother’s team wins that they normally wouldn’t get if he hadn’t subbed in for someone missing or injured that night.
Wiseman went on to star at the University of Michigan, was drafted by the New York Rangers in the 1991 NHL Entry Draft and played six minor pro seasons before concussions derailed his playing career. He is currently the assistant coach of the University of Michigan men’s ice hockey team along side the great Red Berenson.