RED DEER - As 2016 comes to a close, Hockey Alberta looks back on the year that was with some of our favourite moments (in no particular order).
New look(s) for Hockey Alberta
2016 started off with a bang for Hockey Alberta, as our newly re-designed website (hockeyalberta.ca) launched at the end of January after more than six months of work.
In fact, it was a very busy year on the technology front, with the unveiling of the new Provincial Championships sites (haprovincials.ca), the Alberta Cup site (abcup.ca), and the transition of the Hockey Alberta Foundation website (hockeyalbertafoundation.ca) back to the Hockey Alberta platform.
Then, in August, Hockey Alberta proudly announced a new visual identity, unveiling a new logo that combines a number of elements that focus on how to best represent hockey in Alberta.
Team Alberta finds the podium
2016 was another successful year for Hockey Alberta’s Team Alberta program, with medals in three different inter-provincial events.
Team Alberta U16 Male continued its winning ways at the Western Canada U16 Challenge Cup in October, earning its third-straight gold medal, and fifth in the tournament’s six-year history. Click here for the full story.
Team Alberta North came out of the 2016 Arctic Winter Games in March with a gold medal on the male side, and a silver medal on the female. Click here for the full story.
At the Alberta Winter Games in Medicine Hat in February, it was Zone 6 Male (Edmonton) and Zone 5 Female (Yellowhead/Blackgold) skating away with gold medals, proving to be the best in the province. Click here for the full story.
The March to a title
The 2016 Hockey Alberta Provincial Championships, presented by ATB Financial, saw 39 different battles for provincial supremacy from Atom to Senior. Provincials were hosted across the Alberta as far north as High Level, and as far south as Taber. The annual “March to a title” is always a high point for minor hockey across Alberta, and 2016 marked the first year with ATB Financial as presenting sponsor.
30 years of the Alberta Cup
Despite trailing 2-0 and 3-2 at different points in the game, Calgary South used a six goal third period to defeat Northeast 9-3 to capture the 2016 Alberta Cup. The win is an extra-special one for Calgary South Head Coach Jamie Steer, as he won the first ever Alberta Cup as a player with Calgary South in 1986, a story-book ending to the celebration of 30 years of the Alberta Cup.
Alberta’s players and officials continue to excel
2016 was a banner year for Alberta players and officials, achieving a number of accolades and recognition.
For the first time since 1993, Alberta players were selected 1-2-3 in the WHL Bantam Draft. Peyton Krebs of Okotoks was taken first overall by the Kootenay Ice, with Fort Saskatchewan native Kirby Dach and Cochrane’s Bowen Byram going second and third to the Saskatoon Blades and Vancouver Giants, respectively. In total, 73 players from Alberta were selected in the 2016 draft. Click here for the full story.
At the 2016 NHL draft, 16 Albertans heard their names called by an NHL team. Jake Bean was the highest-drafted Albertan, going 13th overall to the Carolina Hurricanes. Team Alberta alumnus Sam Steel also went in the first round, as the Anaheim Ducks selected him with the 30th pick. Click here for the full story.
Alberta’s officials were assigned to numerous high-profile events throughout 2016. In March, 12 Alberta officials were assigned to the Western Canada Bantam Championships in Okotoks. In April, six Alberta officials were assigned to the RBC Cup in Lloydminster, and in November, five Alberta officials were assigned to the World Junior A Challenge in Bonnyville.
“Do what’s best for the children in your Minor Hockey Association”
At Hockey Alberta’s Hockey Conference and Annual General Meeting in June, keynote speaker, Dr. Stephen Norris, delivered a powerful message about doing what’s best for children in minor hockey. 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, Chief Executive Officer, Hockey Alberta.
Hockey Alberta’s inaugural Coaches Conference
Hockey Alberta’s inaugural Coaches Conference saw over 80 minor hockey coaches from across Alberta come together in Calgary for two days presentations from 17 of the top minds in hockey. Presenters included Hockey Canada coaching legend Mel Davidson, Medicine Hat Tigers Coach and General Manager Shaun Clouston, Hockey Alberta Coach Mentors Barry Medori and Fran Gow, and Finnish Ice Hockey Association Regional Coach Kalle Valiaho.
Albertans get the call to The Hall
Five outstanding individuals and one team were enshrined in the Alberta Hockey Hall of Fame in July, including former Boston Bruins legend and Hockey Hall of Fame member Johnny Bucyk.
Joining Bucyk in the class of 2016 was Mike Rogers (retired NHL and WHA player, and former Calgary Flames broadcaster), Dr. George Kingston (internationally-renowned coach), Terry Ledingham (long-time Hockey Alberta and Hockey Canada volunteer), the 1965-66 champion Edmonton Oil Kings, and Larry Kwong, the first player of Asian descent to play in the NHL. Click here for the full story.
In February, Female Hockey Builder Shirley Cameron was inducted into the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame. The Edmonton native was at the forefront of women’s ice hockey in Canada for 30 years as a player, coach and builder from the early 1970s until her retirement from the game in 2006. Click here for the full story.
Continued growth of the Initiation Program
Hockey Alberta’s Initiation Program continued to grow in 2016, with enhanced focus on our game’s youngest players.
A partnership with Pembina Pipeline Corporation offered a special grant to Minor Hockey Associations to obtain a full set of foam rink dividers, or fundraising towards a set of puck board rink dividers. The response was overwhelming, with nearly 60 minor hockey associations across Alberta applying to receive ice dividers. And Pembina responded by ensuring that every eligible applicant had a set of divider boards in place for the 2016-17 season. Click here for the full story.
In August, Hockey Alberta partnered with Powerscout Hockey and St. Albert Minor Hockey to conduct a study on the effectiveness of smaller ice surfaces in skill development. Results reinforced that using a smaller ice surface at the Initiation level helps in the overall positive development of skating skills and skating acceleration for our youngest players, thereby better preparing them for when they are old enough to move to higher levels of hockey. To read more about the findings from this study, click here.
The Alberta Female Hockey League kicks off its inaugural season
As part of the implementation of Hockey Alberta’s new female hockey model, the Alberta Female Hockey League (AFHL) was created, and its inaugural season kicked off in October. The league is comprised of three levels: Midget AAA, Midget Elite, and Bantam Elite.
In November, seven Midget AAA players from the AFHL suited up with Team Alberta at the National Women’s U18 Championships in Regina.
In December, the AFHL announced its rosters for the Midget Elite and Bantam Elite All-Star games, which will be held on January 14 in Red Deer and Strathmore, respectively.
Hockey Alberta is proud to unveil a new section at hockeyalberta.ca. Home Ice Feature stories will focus on interesting stories about the individuals and groups who make a difference within the hockey community in Alberta. If you have a suggestion for a Home Ice Feature story, email [email protected].