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2016 Hockey Alberta Referee Committee award and scholarship winners

RED DEER - Hockey Alberta is proud to announce recipients of Referee Committee awards and scholarships for 2016.

The winners were revealed at the 2016 Referee Committee Annual General Meeting, which was held in Red Deer this past weekend.

Ernie Boruk Award: Craig Decoursey (Cochrane)

Hockey Alberta News
Craig Decoursey (left) receives his 2016 Ernie Boruk Award.

The Ernie Boruk Award is presented annually to an individual in appreciation of outstanding dedication and contribution to the
Hockey Alberta Referee Committee.

Dave Ganley Award: Paul Isaac (Sundre), Ken Dentzien (Sturgeon County)

Hockey Alberta News
Paul Issac (right) receives the Dave Ganley Award as one of two winners.

The Dave Ganley Award is presented to individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to Hockey Officiating in Alberta.

Zone award winners:

  • South Zone: Ken Heggie (Raymond)
  • Central Zone: Dave Coles, Chris Bruce, and Laurie Rutherford (Calgary)
  • North Central Zone: Brent Ramsay (Spruce View)
  • North Zone: Darryl Holt (Leduc County), Shelley Knowlton (St. Albert) and Jim McAuley (Edmonton)
  • North East Zone: Phil Bexson (Marwayne)
  • Peace Zone: Al Petersen (Grande Prairie)

Referee Committee Scholarship Recipients: Cole Feth (Camrose), Matthew Moldenhauer (Calgary) & Matt Wass (Medicine Hat)


Sam Steel (left-centre) and Kale Clague (right-centre), seen here celebrating Team Alberta’s 2013 Western Canada U16 Challenge Cup victory, are two of the 16 Albertans selected at this year’s NHL Entry Draft. (Photo by LA Media)

16 Albertans taken at 2016 NHL Entry Draft

When the 2016 NHL Entry Draft wrapped up on Saturday in Buffalo, 16 Albertans had heard their names called by an NHL team.

Calgary’s Jake Bean was the first to take the stage after the Carolina Hurricanes drafted the highly-touted defenceman in the first round, 13th overall.

Sam Steel, a Sherwood Park native, was the second and final Albertan drafted in the first round, taken 30th overall by the Anaheim Ducks.

The second round featured a pair of players drafted by their hometown teams, with Edmonton’s Tyler Benson and Cochrane’s Dillon Dube drafted 32nd and 56th overall by the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames, respectively. Former Team Alberta Captain Kale Clague of Lloydminster was also taken in the second round, going 51st overall to the Los Angeles Kings.

Another Sherwood Park product, Carter Hart, 2016 WHL (Western Conference) and CHL Goaltender of the Year, was the lone netminder drafted from Alberta, as he went 48th overall in the second round to the Philadelphia Flyers. Hart was the first goaltender taken in the NHL draft.

A full list of Albertans drafted can be found below:

Pick Player Team Position Hometown


13th Jake Bean (Calgary Hitmen) Carolina Hurricanes Defence Calgary
30th Sam Steel (Regina Pats) Anaheim Ducks Forward Sherwood Park


32nd Tyler Benson (Vancouver Giants) Edmonton Oilers Forward Edmonton
48th Carter Hart (Everett Silvertips) Philadelphia Flyers Goalie Sherwood Park
51st Kale Clague (Brandon Wheat Kings) Los Angeles Kings Defence Lloydminster
56th Dillon Dube (Kelowna Rockets) Calgary Flames Forward Cochrane


74th Hudson Elynuik (Spokane Chiefs) Carolina Hurricanes Forward Calgary
82nd Carsen Twarynski (Calgary Hitmen) Philadelphia Flyers Forward Calgary
85th Joshua Mahura (Red Deer Rebels) Anaheim Ducks Defence Edmonton


111th Noah Gregor (Moose Jaw Warriors) San Jose Sharks Forward Beaumont


133rd Maxime Lajoie (Swift Current Broncos) Ottawa Senators Defence Calgary
144th Conner Bleackley (Red Deer Rebels) St. Louis Blues Forward High River


159th Brandon Hagel (Red Deer Rebels) Buffalo Sabres Forward Morinville
166th Matthew Phillips (Victoria Royals) Calgary Flames Forward Calgary


200th David Quenneville (Medicine Hat Tigers) New York Islanders Defence Edmonton
204th Brayden Chizen (Kelowna Rockets) Minnesota Wild Defence St. Albert


Saturday night’s hot stove panel (from left): Kalle Valiaho (Finnish Ice Hockey Association), Kyle Rehman (NHL Official), Justin Fesyk (Hockey Alberta), Brad Lukowich (former NHL player), and moderator Rob Kerr (Sportsney 960 The Fan).

2016 Coaches Conference puts the focus on player development

CALGARY – As the inaugural Hockey Alberta Coaches Conference wrapped up on Sunday in Calgary, coaches departed with one resonating theme: process over outcome.

More than 80 coaches of all levels from across the province took part in the two-day conference, hearing from 17 of the top minds in the game.

The weekend opened with a keynote address from Dr. Stephen Norris, who challenged coaches to take a hard look at what the future looks like, and to focus that future on the children. Norris also talked about the importance of giving the game back to the players, as it is their game.

Following Dr. Norris on Saturday was Corey McNabb, Director Hockey Development, Hockey Canada (linking practice to games); Jeff Truitt, Associate Coach, Red Deer Rebels (special teams); Dr. Matt Brown, Mental Training Consultant (mental preparation and awareness); Barry Medori, High Performance Coach Mentor, Hockey Alberta (creating a team culture); David Marcoux, Goaltending Coach. Carolina Hurricanes (goalie strategies and goal scoring); and Guy Gadowsky, Head Coach Men’s Hockey, Penn State University (teaching habits over systems).

Saturday’s program wrapped up with a hot stove panel, hosted by Sportsnet 960 The Fan’s Rob Kerr, featuring Hockey Alberta’s Senior Manager, Hockey Development Justin Fesyk, Finnish Ice Hockey Association Regional Coach Kalle Valiaho, NHL officiale Kyle Rehman, and former NHL player and two-time Stanley Cup champion Brad Lukowich.

On Sunday, Tyler Dellow, an Analytics Consultant with the Edmonton Oilers, opened with a presentation on analytics, breaking down what they really mean and how they can be employed by minor hockey coaches.

Sunday’s program also included Steve Hamilton, Head Coach, Edmonton Oil Kings (coaching the ‘right way’); Fran Gow, Provincial Coach Mentor, Hockey Alberta, and Vice President, Hockey Operations of the Alberta Junior Hockey League (game and bench management); Bert Gilling, Head Coach Men’s Hockey, Mount Royal University (the transition game), Shaun Clouston, Head Coach, Medicine Hat Tigers (creating a blueprint for success), and Mel Davidson, General Manager, Hockey Canada National Women’s Team Programs (preparing for short-term competition).

To close out the weekend, Valiaho spoke about international excellence, outlining the similarities and differences in the development of coaches and players in Finland, compared to the process in Alberta.


Curtis Nichols (left) accepts the 2016 Chair of the Board Award from Board Chair Terry Engen.

Nichols receives Chair’s award at 109th Hockey Alberta AGM

RED DEER - Terry Engen and Fran Zinger will return to their positions as Chair and Vice Chair, respectively, of the Board of Directors of the Alberta Amateur Hockey Association (Hockey Alberta).

Engen and Zinger were declared elected to their positions for three year terms during the 109th Hockey Alberta Annual General Meeting held at the Sheraton Hotel in Red Deer.

Along with the election of officers, four notices of motion were passed. Included among the approved motions were changing the title Executive Director to Chief Executive Officer, and amending the date for the annual general meeting to require it to be held within six months of the end of fiscal year.

Hockey Alberta News
(From left) back row: Jerrold Lemko (Director at Large), Dave Sevalrud (Director at Large),
Rob Virgil (Past Chair), Rob Litwinski (CEO), Terry Engen (Chair), Len Samletzki (Director of Finance),
Fran Zinger (Vice Chair) and Freb Horbay (Director at Large). Front row: Life Members Bob Clark,
Don Gatto, Marv Bird and Ernie Boruk.

A highlight of the annual general meeting is the presentation, by Terry Engen, of the Chair of the Board Award. The 2016 recipient is Curtis Nichols, who has been a long time on-ice official, supervisor, zone executive member, and is the former chair of the Referee Council.

A number of Operational Committee volunteers were recognized for their years of dedicated service. Sherry Haarstad was recognized for 10 years as a volunteer, while Jamie Salm, Janet Fairless, Sherri Barrett, Connie Anderson and Michelle Malbeuf were recognized for five years of service.

Hockey Alberta News
Sherry Haarstad (centre) receives her 10 year service award from Rob Litwinski (left) and Terry Engen (right).

Several long-time volunteers who are not returning for 2016-17 were also recognized, including: Barrett (Zone 5 Minor Administration Coordinator), Craig Decoursey (Referee Committee), Craig Reid (Operations Advisory Committee), and Lil Fulton (Junior/Senior Female Committee).


From left: Tim Leer, Colin Derko (Boyle Minor Hockey), Paul Isaac, Boris Rybalka, Rob Dawson, Kevin Kobelka (Hockey Calgary), and Rod Bischke.

Individuals and MHAs honoured with 2016 Hockey Alberta Awards

RED DEER - Six individuals and two minor hockey associations have been recognized for their outstanding contributions to hockey in Alberta.

The 2016 Hockey Alberta Awards were handed out during an awards luncheon Saturday afternoon, sponsored by BFL Canada, as part of Hockey Alberta’s 2016 Hockey Conference and Annual General Meeting.

Minor Hockey Association Executive of the Year: Rod Bischke (Olds Minor Hockey)
Minor Hockey Association of the Year: Hockey Calgary
Meritorious Awards: Rob Dawson, Gary Snydmiller
Provincial Championships Exception Host Site Award: Boyle Minor Hockey (Peewee D Provincials)
Hockey Development Awards: Wade Borynec, Boris Rybalka, Tim Leer

Recipients of the 2016 Referee Committee Awards were also recognized during the luncheon:

Ernie Boruk Award: Craig Decoursey (Cochrane)
Dave Ganley Award: Paul Isaac (Sundre), Ken Dentzien (Sturgeon County)

Zone award winners:

  • South Zone: Ken Heggie (Raymond)
  • Central Zone: Dave Coles, Chris Bruce, and Laurie Rutherford (Calgary)
  • North Central Zone: Brent Ramsay (Spruce View)
  • North Zone: Darryl Holt (Leduc County), Shelley Knowlton (St. Albert) and Jim McAuley (Edmonton)
  • North East Zone: Phil Bexson (Marwayne)
  • Peace Zone: Al Petersen (Grande Prairie)

Award Winner Bios >


Dr. Stephen Norris, keynote speaker for Hockey Alberta’s Hockey Conference, spoke about growing our game.

Do what’s best for the children in your minor hockey association: Dr. Stephen Norris

RED DEER – Members of Alberta’s hockey community were challenged to take a serious look at what the future looks like, and to remember that the future needs to focus on the children in their organization.

The challenge came from Dr. Stephen Norris, Consultant Performance and Development with Hockey Canada. He was the keynote speaker on Friday to kick off Hockey Alberta’s Hockey Conference and Annual General Meeting at the Sheraton Hotel in Red Deer.

Norris told the approximately 150 people in attendance that it is their job to step beyond the gossip that tends to dominate their time, and to overcome the existing practices and common ways of doing things to help ensure the future success and existence of the sport. He cited the statistic that hockey in Canada sees a 50 per cent drop in player numbers at each age level.

"We need to think even more creatively in how we are going to keep this sport alive in this province," said Norris. "If you add up all the years of experience in hockey in this room, we should be able to solve anything. But we don’t allow ourselves to."

Norris said that the focus must be on what is best for the players, the children who are interested in playing hockey.

"When kids start playing hockey in Initiation, we have no idea where they’re going in their lives," Norris said. "If we do our jobs well, when they graduate from minor hockey, if they say they learned a lot, and had a great time, you will have done your job. The most precious commodity we have in this commodity-rich province is our children."

The focus of the 2016 Hockey Conference is “Building Your Team”. The goal is help those in attendance develop techniques to:

  • Influence people to embrace change and strive towards being an organization that provides positive experiences for all participants
  • Educate on the reasons why change is beneficial by considering age/level appropriate programming
  • Implement a structure that enables the organization to establish and operate successful programs.

"As you soon as you step up and say, ’I want to be involved,’ there is a responsibility," said Norris.

Following the keynote presentation, Norris was joined in a round-table panel discussion by Keith Hansen, retired volleyball coach at Red Deer College and member of the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame; Lyn Radford, Board Chair, 2019 Canada Winter Games; and Rob Litwinski, Executive Director, Hockey Alberta.

During the round-table discussion, the panel talked about some of the key aspects that resonated for them from Norris’ comments in their respective areas of athletics.

Radford talked about the challenges that can exist in putting together a successful administrative team, and the importance of ensuring diversity and a variety of personalities, philosophies and opinions.

Hansen outlined some of the developments that occurred in the world of volleyball at younger age divisions to help overall skill development for all 12 players on a team. He suggested that to reduce the number of players leaving the sport hockey needed to take a new look at how training occurs for athletes at all ages.

And Litwinski reminded everyone that real change has to be inspired locally, it is not something that can be mandated by a provincial body.

Norris previously served as the Executive Vice-President and Chief Sport Officer at Winsport Canada. He played a key role as consultant to the ‘Own The Podium’ program high performance/technical group in the five years prior to the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games. And he was one of the five founding members and contributors to the ‘Canadian Sport For Life’ movement concerning athlete/participant development and the concept of ‘physical literacy’ within Canada.

The Hockey Conference runs through Saturday, with morning and afternoon sessions focused on guiding and assisting Hockey Operations and Hockey Development personnel to better provide positive services and experiences to the players, and other hockey stakeholders, in their associations.

Other events on Saturday include the annual Hockey Alberta Awards luncheon, and the Annual General Meeting.