By: Timothy Oshie
When I think back to my collegiate days and my journey back to Minnesota in 1986, I'm reminded each day how precious life is.
I was a Bemidji State University basketball junior college recruit coming via Everett Community College in Washington. It was in late August of '86, that I had the distinct opportunity to meet a gentleman by the name of George Pelawa.
We played golf together in an Native American Tournament near Bemidji. I can vividly remember his massive frame yet a very soft spoken young man. We had a chance to catch up on life and he told me he was excited to attend and play hockey for the University of North Dakota in a couple weeks.
That vision and opportunity never happened. George Pelawa was tragically killed in an automobile accident on Labor Day Weekend of 1986.
I can remember the Cass Lake / Bemidji communities mourning this special young man. I remember how the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe and it's members were so devastated by the loss of this incredible young man. It was a very sad day for Native America as one its fine young members with lofty dreams and such a great heart was taken from Mother Earth.
Here are some of the google searches I found on George Pelawa this morning:
Almost 21 years ago (Labor Day Weekend), the Flames lost 1st rounder George Pelawa in a car accident. He was a day or two away from starting his freshman year at UND. He was 6'3" 240 lbs, 3 sport athlete; was named Mr. Hockey among all MN high school players his draft year.
The Flames still have a scholarship in his name at Bemidji High School.
A Song Dedicated To George Pelawa written by his father:
Tom Cochrane and Red Rider: This one still gives me chills. In 1986, the Calgary Flames drafted George Pelawa 16th overall. He was a prospect that had size to go with a scoring prowess. He was playing in the U.S. collegiate circles and was killed in a highway collision. The story is told from the fathers point of view. No hockey Dad can distance themselves from the lyric "My boy's gonna play in the big league/ my boy's gonna knock 'em dead" without feeling it's sting. It is a true Canadian tale that ends when "Ice meets metal/In the wrong lane to the big league".
Cochrane's broken hearted "Aaaah aha" wail makes one's neck hair stand on end. The truest of Canadian classics.
From SiouxSports.com Archives:
Big George Pelawa was a team mate of mine at Bemidji High School in football, he was a 3 sport athletic star. George played linebacker in football and could affect a game by himself.
George could have been a Division 1 athlete in Football, Baseball and Hockey. He was that gifted.
I would have loved to seen him in a Fighting Sioux uniform. Unforunately returning from a gathering in his hometown late one night before his freshman season, he was killed in a car crash. What an awesome guy. It still makes me sad to this day to think about it...
George Pelawa was a NHL 1st Round Draft Choice of the Calgary Flames (16th overall) in the summer of 1986 and was entering his Freshman season at the University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux.