Clare Drake (MHKY | Coach)
NAME: Clare Drake
SPORT: Men’s Hockey
YEARS ACTIVE: 1947-1952 (student-athlete), 1955-1989 (coach)
Six-time national champion
17-time conference champion
Two-time CIAU Coach of the Year
Hockey Hall of Fame inductee (2017)
When it comes to legends in university sport, former Alberta men’s hockey coach Clare Drake is among the biggest.
The legendary coach is synonymous with hockey at the University of Alberta, where he led the Golden Bears to six Canadian titles and 17 western conference championships over a 28-year head coaching career that spanned 1,030 games.
Drake compiled a record of 697 wins, 296 losses and 37 ties for a .695 winning percentage as head coach of the hockey Golden Bears, while being named CIAU Coach of the Year in 1975 and 1988, and Canada West Coach of the Year four times (1975, 1985, 1987 and 1989).
His coaching expertise also pushed the football Golden Bears to championship heights. He's the only Canadian university coach to lead both hockey and football teams to championships in the same year (1967-68).
He has been honoured many times, as an inductee in the Alberta Hockey Hall of Fame (class of 2005), the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame (1980), Canadian Sports Hall of Fame (1989), and the University of Alberta Sports Wall of Fame (2011). Along with these honours, he is also an inductee in the Hockey Hall of Fame (2017), and Alberta's arena is named in his honour.
In 2014, Drake was awarded the Order of Hockey in Canada as well as the 3M Gordon Juckes Award, both from Hockey Canada. He was the recipient of the Geoff Gowan Award in 2006, the Coaching Association of Canada’s top award. Drake was also made an honorary life member of Football Alberta.
Born in 1928 in Yorkton, Sask., Drake grew up excelling at sport, and played junior hockey in Regina and Medicine Hat. He spent three years at the University of British Columbia, where he was a member of the Thunderbirds varsity hockey team and graduated with a degree in physical education. In 1951 he moved to Edmonton to study education at the U of A, where he played one season with the Golden Bears, winning a conference championship.
He joined the Golden Bears coaching staff as an assistant to head coach Don Smith in 1955. Upon Smith’s retirement in 1958, Drake took over as a head coach, a position he held until 1989. He additionally guided the Golden Bears football program for three years in the 1960s, compiling a record of 23–4 and winning a national title.
Drake also coached international and professional hockey. He was a co-coach of the 1980 Canadian Olympic hockey team, guided Team Canada to its first Spengler Cup title in 1984, and coached Canada to three medals at the World Student Games, winning gold in 1981, silver in 1982 and bronze in 1987. He spent one season away from the Golden Bears to serve as head-coach of the Edmonton Oilers for the 1975-76 WHA season, and after his time at the U of A went on to work as an assistant coach in the NHL with Winnipeg and Dallas.
Drake passed away in 2018 at age 89.