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Hockey Alberta Foundation

Sturgeon Hockey Club furthering Officials Development and Female hockey program with help of Hockey Alberta Foundation

With the help of the Hockey Alberta Foundation, the Sturgeon Hockey Club has been able to take a two pronged approach to growing the game in its community.

Fundingfrom Hockey Alberta’s Member Grant Program, supported by the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation, was used to further the development of both the local officials as well as the female program.

“I simply can’t state enough of how important the continued support of HA, EOCF and the HAF have meant to our small hockey association,” said Gene Connors, president of the Sturgeon association. “The amount of time, effort and money that we were able to put towards our officiating development and retention has been tremendous. We used to struggle year after year with finding officials to take the course and retention as well.  With the proceeds we received this season, we not only increased our official numbers greatly but the amount of advertising, teaching, recognition and clinics we were able to conduct will prove fruitful for years to come.”

The officials’ program had 45 students participate with four volunteers. Those enrolled in the program had six development nights with both classroom and ice time provided. The young officials practiced the art of skating, puck drops, whistle blowing, penalty procedures and a whole lot more.

“We have had numerous people comment on the difference in the Sturgeon officals this season. I am very proud of this group of individuals and what was accomplished throughout the season,” O’Connors said. “It makes you feel good about the time and effort put in behind the scenes to help these officials be successful when you get compliments from even the visiting assiciations that the reffing is noticiably better each time they visit and the refs are very professional, knowledgeable, and easy to deal with even in heated games.”

The funding provided from the Member Grant program also allowed Sturgeon to host a week long female only development camp in December. The female hockey program saw 120 players and 21 volunteers participate to help grow the female game in the community. The camp featured a goalie only session as well, to help further the progress of the position.

Sturgeon also held a Fillies Female Hockey Day in March that included on and off ice activities, including try hockey events. The day resulted in the association bringing out 13 new players interested in joining hockey. That rolled over into the Spring ID Skates, where 120 players registered.

“The impact that this grant had was instrumental in our hockey club being able to continue to grow and improve our female program,” O’Connors said. “We can not thank Hockey Alberta and the Hockey Alberta Foundation enough for your help and support for our Female hockey program.”

The Hockey Alberta Member Grant Program, in partnership with the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation, allows access to funding for Hockey Alberta members in Northern Alberta. Priority areas for funding are leadership development; introduction to hockey, female, para, and Indigenous hockey programming; and inclusion and diversity initiatives. 


Hockey Canada Seeking Hlinka Gretzky Cup Volunteers

The top under-18 hockey players in the world are coming to Edmonton this summer for the 2024 Hlinka Gretzky Cup, and Hockey Canada wants you to be part of the action!

Join Hockey Canada for the annual invitation-only tournament Aug. 5-10 at Rogers Place and be there when future stars emerge. The Hlinka Gretzky Cup is the premier, best-on-best competition where fans and scouts alike get a chance to see the top NHL Draft prospects showcase their elite skill on the international stage ahead of the 2024-25 season, and we need volunteers like you to make it all happen.

Hockey Canada is currently looking for volunteers for the following committees:

  • Scout & Media Services
  • Medical
  • Off-Ice Officials
  • Team Services
  • Transportation
  • Volunteer Operations

Selected volunteers will receive a uniform, meals, transit passes, and a chance to win great Hlinka Gretzky Cup prizes.


Home Ice Feature

Pride Month – CIHA creating an inclusive and safe environment to try hockey

In celebration of Pride Month, Hockey Alberta is proud to share stories from across the province’s hockey community.

If you can play, you can play.

The Calgary Inclusive Hockey Association was formed to create a local hockey organization and social environment with a focus on LGBTQ equality in sport.

The Calgary Pioneers have been playing in the WinSport Hockey Canada League (WHCL) since 2015. They added a second team, the Villagers, in 2017 and are now CIHA’s beginners’ team.

“It’s a space primarily for 2SLGBTQIA+ people to be part of a hockey organization where they can be themselves and be celebrated for that and feel comfortable being who they are in the dressing room, on the ice and around the rink without that fear of discrimination,” said Jason Finnan, President of the Calgary Inclusive Hockey Association. “We create that safe space for them, where they can be exactly who they are, and we’ll support them and create a space for them to enjoy hockey because it’s our national sport and so many Canadians love it.”

Finnan said the association has seen a big uptick in new players over the last year and a half.

“We’ve seen more people join. Specifically trans players, that didn’t feel like they had a space to go and play hockey,” Finnan said. “They didn’t feel like a men’s league was right for them, didn’t feel like a women’s league was right for them either. So, we happily accepted them into our group and are making sure they feel welcome and safe.”

The growth over the past two years is a microcosm of what the association has seen in registration since it began nearly a decade ago. For the first time, CIHA was able to ice a third team last season.

“We’ve bumped up from 20 members to 40 and over the last couple years we’ve been right at the cut off to get a third team, which we were finally able to get last year and have our first season with three teams,” Finnan said. “We have two teams that are beginner and intermediate, and then we have the Pioneers which is our longest standing team and is a little more advanced. We’re currently sitting at 70 members, and we split them between the three teams. We’ve grown a lot in diversity, and I think we’re stronger because of that.”

The CIHA wants people to know that everyone is welcome to join their teams regardless of race or sexual orientation.

“That message of inclusivity goes beyond gender identity or sexual orientation because there are people of other races that may not feel comfortable in the sport, especially if they’re queer as well. It’s a whole other added layer for them” Finnan said. “So, we really try to spread that positive message that everyone is welcome and to feel the best they can in a hockey setting.”

New to the association this past year is the scholarship program. To try and help offset the costs that come with playing hockey, applicants are invited to apply for subsidy between 15 and 50 percent of their yearly hockey fees.

“We got a donation from the NHL when Luke Prokop came out a few years ago,” Finnan said. “So, we used that donation money for our scholarship program to break down that financial barrier for people to get in and play if money is a concern. It’s been a big initiative to take on, but if it gives more people the chance to play our great game, then it is more than worth it.

Prokop, who hails from Edmonton, was drafted by the Nashville Predators in the 2020 NHL Draft. He made pro sports history becoming the first openly gay player under NHL contract. Prokop has spent parts of the past two seasons in the Predators farm system but has yet to suit up in NHL regular season action. Finnan is hoping that there is soon going to be more representation at the professional level, specifically in the NHL.

“I think when we see professional players speak up about these issues or even come out to be their authentic self, I think that really inspires everyone else to feel more comfortable,” Finnan said. “We haven’t really seen any representation currently in the NHL of any openly gay players so I think that would be a massive change to help bridge that gap of homophobia. Even if they’re just allies, it would be helpful for our community and making people feel a little safer and a little less scared.”