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Honouring RMC’s greatest hockey player

Lt.-Col. Steve Molaski addresses the crowd during his jersey retirement ceremony at the Royal Military College of Canada Friday night. Photo by Cam Kennedy. [1]

Lt.-Col. Steve Molaski addresses the crowd during his jersey retirement ceremony at the Royal Military College of Canada Friday night. Photo by Cam Kennedy, QNet News

By Cam Kennedy [2]

KINGSTON – In the cold confines of Constantine Arena [3] at the Royal Military College of Canada [4] last Friday, the number 23 was recognized as one never to be worn again.

The number belonged to Lt.-Col. Steve Molaski, 53, the RMC men’s hockey team’s greatest scorer ever. It was officially retired in a ceremony before RMC faced off against the McGill University Redmen [5].

Molaski grew up in Belleville, the tenth born in a family of 11 children. He spent his early years on two rinks his dad built.

“Playing with my older brothers and (their) friends, it made me quickly adapt to an older game,” Molaski told QNet News after the ceremony. Playing with them “set me up well playing against kids my own age. I had a lot of success in Belleville.”

One of those successes came during the 1979-80 hockey season, when Molaski played for the Junior B Belleville Bobcats [6]. The team captured the Sutherland Cup [7], the provincial championship, while being coached by the legendary Floyd Crawford [8], patriach of a Belleville family that includes three National Hockey League players.

“To anyone in Belleville, (the Crawfords) are the first family of hockey,” he said.

The foundation of skills Molaski built in Belleville culminated in a roster spot on the Cornwall Royals of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League [9].

Playing with future NHL stars Dale Hawerchuk [10] and Doug Gilmour [11], the team captured a Memorial Cup championship in 1981.

As his career with the Royals came to a close, Molaski transitioned into the military, beginning at RMC.

As a member of the college’s hockey team, he tallied 76 goals and 129 assists in five seasons between 1983 and 1987. He also holds the RMC record for most points in a game, notching eight against the University of Waterloo.

“It was never really about stats,” he said.  “And one thing about records, if anything, is they are made to be broken. I hope that mine gets broken.”

As he was recognized for his achievements on the ice, Molaski reflected on how he wants others to remember him, other than for being the prolific scorer he was.

“I was a bit of character off the ice as well – a great friend, a professional officer,” he said. “Just a guy who put duty first – service before self.”

The service in question is the 30-plus years he has put in with the Canadian military.

Molaski served as an artillery officer before rising to his current rank, and has done tours of duty in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Bosnia.

Lt. Col. Steve Molaski overseas on deployment. Photo by RMC [12]

Lt. Col. Steve Molaski serving overseas. Photo courtesy of Royal Military College

He works in Ottawa now, looking after military training outside of the United States and Canada.

By next fall Molaski will, like his number, be retired. He has no set plans for retirement, he said, but would like to be back at Constantine Arena when his records are shattered.

“I want to be here to be able to shake the cadet’s hand (who breaks his record) and his teammates’ hands when he does it. It would be fantastic.”