September 17, 2017

Legends of Team Canada: Ken Berry

Ken Berry was a successful junior star. In 1977-78 he played most of the season with Bellingham of the BCJHL. Ken racked up 130 points (57 goals and 73 assists) in only 65 games and was clearly too good for the league.

Late that season he joined the New Westminster Bruins. In the playoffs Ken played 6 games and scored 7 points (3 goals, 4 assists), helping New Westminster win the prestigious Memorial Cup. The team had 7 future NHL'ers. Ken Berry, John Paul Kelly, Larry Lozinski, Larry Melnyk, Brian Young, John Ogrodnick and Stan Smyl.

The following season (78-79) Ken played at University of Denver. His performance there eventually earned him a spot on the Canadian Olympic team in 1980. Ken scored 4 goals in 6 games and was one of Canada's best players. Some other players on that Olympic team included Glenn Anderson, Paul MacLean and Randy Gregg.

Ken was only 5'9" and 175 pounds which didn't sit well with the majority of scouts and GM's around the NHL. Ken was a great skater and he feisty and aggressive, very tough to play against. He was also versatile, able to play on left winger or center.

Vancouver eventually drafted Ken in the 6th round,1980 (112th overall). After the Olympics Ken went back to Denver where he played another season tying a 28-year old University record for most penalty minutes in one season (42). In two years of University hockey Ken scored 93 points (39 goals and 54 points) in 79 games.

Ken had the skills to play at the NHL level but when he was traded to the Edmonton Oilers in 1981 for B.J. MacDonald he got stuck behind a talented Edmonton Oilers squad. The franchise was stacked with future superstars and Hall of Famers.

Ken was constantly shuffled between Edmonton and the minor leagues (CHL and AHL). He didn't play more than 28 NHL games during a 4 year span. As Edmonton was in the midst of a dynasty Ken realized that he would never crack the lineup. So in 1985 he accepted an offer from Bayreuth in Germany where he racked up 52 points (27 goals) in 33 games.

"I played for the (Oilers) organization for four years and it wasn't really leading anywhere," Berry said.
"I was a good insurance policy to them. But other than that, nothing really seemed to be developing and I kind of wanted a change."

Following his successful stint in Germany, Ken decided to stay in Europe and travel with the Canadian National team. In little over two years Ken played 119 games for Canada (80 points). And once again he was selected to represent Canada in the Olympics, eight years after his first appearance. He had 6 points (2 goals and 4 assists) in 8 games and played sound two-way hockey.

His biggest night came a few months before the Olympics. Berry scored twice in a 3-2 win over the vaunted Soviet national team in Moscow at the famous Izvestija Christmastime tournament. It was the first time any Canadian team won a game on Moscow ice since Paul Henderson's famous goal in 1972.

Berry was more noted for his defensive game on the international stage. He often team up on a line with Marc Habscheid and Gord Sherven and tried to shadow the top Soviet line of Igor Larionov, Vladimir Krutov and Sergei Makarov.

His performance at the Olympic games impressed a few scouts and Vancouver signed him as a free agent. Ken finished the 1987-88 season playing in 14 regular-season games (5 points). Vancouver then signed Ken to a one-year contract. So in 1988-89 Ken played 14 games for the Canucks.

"I'd like to show that I could play more," Ken said. " One of the positive things about me is that I can come in periodically and give them what they need, as opposed to a lot of the other players."

Vancouver decided not to give Ken another contract and released him. Ken once again set his sights on Europe and Germany. The larger ice surface on the European rinks suited Ken very well because he was a good skater with decent mobility. He ended up playing in Munich for ECH M√ľnchen between 1989-93.

During these four seasons Ken took on a defensive role with the team and scored 141 points (71 goals and 70 assists) in 147 regular season games and another 15 points (9 goals and 6 assists) in 13 playoff games.

Ken Berry later started a new career as stock broker.

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