Orval Tessier was a star as a player in the Ontario Hockey Association in the early 1950’s and returned to star behind the bench as a head coach in the 1980’s. Tessier was an oustanding minor pro hockey player and an outstanding head coach, taking three teams in three different leagues to playoff championships.
Tessier played two years of junior hockey in the OHA, 1951-52 and 1952-53. In his first year, he led the league in goals with 62 over just 52 games with the Kitchener Greenshirts. The Greenshirts are the present day Peterborough Petes. In his second year, he played for the Barrie Flyers and once again reached the 50 goal plateau. The Flyers are the present day Sudbury Wolves.
Orval played in 59 National Hockey League games between 1954-55 and 1960-61 with the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins. However, it was in the minor pro leagues where he excelled.
- In 1956-57, he led the QHL in goals and points, scoring 43 and totalling 81 over 68 games with the Quebec Aces.
- in 1959-60, he led the EPHL in goals, assists and points with 59, 67 and 126 over 70 games with the Kingston Frontenacs.
- In 1961-62, with the Frontenacs, he led the league again in goals and points with 54 and 114.
- In 1964-65, his final year of pro hockey, Tessier scored 60 goals and accumulated 118 points in 66 games for the Clinton Comets of the Eastern Hockey League.
Along with the 1980-81 season described below, Orval returned to the Ontario Hockey League to coach the Cornwall Royals from 1986-87 to 1988-89. In the NHL, he was honoured with the Jack Adams Award in 1982-83 for his work with the Chicago Black Hawks.
1972-73 Quebec Remparts – QMJHL
It was his first year of coaching and his only year spent in the QMJHL. Tessier coached a Quebec team with future stars like Andre Savard, Guy Chouinard and Real Cloutier on the roster. The team finished first overall in the nine team league with 49 wins and 102 points over the 64 game regular season schedule.
in the quarter-finals, the Remparts slaughtered the Trois Rivieres Ducs in a four game sweep. Quebec outscored their opponents 43-7 over the series on wins of 16-2, 8-0, 11-2 and 8-3.
The semi-finals brought another sweep with the victim this time being the Sherbrooke Castors. The Remparts came up against the Cornwall Royals in the President’s Cup finals and the team finally found a formidable foe. The Royals took the series seven games before bowing out.
The 1973 Memorial Cup tournament was held at the Forum in Montreal, Quebec. The Remparts reached the final game before being soundly beaten by the Toronto Marlboros, 9-1.
1980-81 Kitchener Rangers – OHL
This was Tessier’s first year coaching in the OHL and his only year behind the bench of the Rangers. The team in front of him included future NHL stars Brian Bellows and Al MacInnis. Kitchener finished first in the Emms Division with just 69 points in 68 games. In the Leyden, that point total would have placed them fifth.
In the quarter-finals, the Rangers were outscored by the Niagara Falls Flyers, 28-27. However, the Rangers prevailed four games to two. The following series put the Rangers up against the Windsor Spitfires in the semi-finals. It was a four game sweep for Tessier’s boys. In the Robertson Cup finals against the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, it was a bizarre series that only the OHL was capable of. The series went six games with Kitchener winning three and the other three ending in a tie. The Rangers won the series nine points to three.
The Memorial Cup was held in Windsor, Ontario. Kitchener reached the final game against the Cornwall Royals. With the firepower of Dale Hawerchuk and Doug Gilmour, the Royals easily handled the Rangers 8-2.
1981-82 New Brunswick Hawks – AHL
Sort of keeping with a Tessier theme, 1981-82 was Orval’s first year at the pro level and his only year in the American Hockey League. The Hawks were led by former OHL stars, Steve Larmer and Steve Ludzik. The team finished first in the Northern Division and first overall iwth 48 wins and 107 points over 80 games.
In the quarter-finals, New Brunswick ousted the Adirondack Red Wings three games to two. In the semis, they beat out the Nova Scotia Voyageurs, four games to two. In the Calder Cup finals, the Binghamton Whalers fell to the Hawks in five games.