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Home Ice Feature

Moving mountains for Mighty Max

FAIRVIEW – A Fairview family is seeking help for their son, Max, who was recently diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy type 2.

Max Sych, known as ‘Mighty Max’ by those close to him, is no stranger to adversity. His mother Bryarly had complications during the pregnancy, which resulted in her spending over four weeks on bedrest and giving birth to Max at only 25 weeks. The hospital in Fairview did not have a delivery ward, so Max and his parents were immediately transferred via NICU air ambulance to Edmonton, where he would spend the next 91 days fighting for his life.

Born in January 2019, Max weighed only 1 lb 11 ounces. He had numerous blood transfusions, a bedside surgery, a brain bleed, required ongoing respiratory therapy and was discharged on oxygen. He would spend a total of six months attached to an oxygen tank night and day, and four additional months on nighttime oxygen requiring special care from his parents.

Max was developing at a normal rate and reaching all the appropriate developmental milestones. But in August, his parents noticed a change. He stopped bearing weight on his legs completely, collapsed when put at his table, and arched his back when family held his hands to walk.

In November, genetic test results returned a diagnosis of a rare neuromuscular disease called Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA).

SMA is a rare neuromuscular disease which leads to a progressive loss of muscle strength that affects the ability to walk, swallow and breathe. One in 10,000 children are born with the disease. In Type 2 SMA, children can sit but cannot walk on their own. Remarkably, this condition is separate from his prematurity.

In Canada, Max has access to Spinraza, a prescription drug that can increase survival and motor function. But Max’s best chance at being able to walk and live a long and healthy life is receiving a dose of Zolgensma, a one-time treatment that is not approved or funded by Health Canada. Zolgensma replaces the faulty gene at the root of the disease. At a reported $2.8 million (CAD), it is the most expensive one-time dose therapy in the world and must be given prior to Max turning two, a timeline that likely falls somewhere between his actual birthday in January 2021 and his due date at the beginning of May.

Max’s father Bowden, a former player and coach with Fairview Minor Hockey, says that his goal is to give Max a live a long and normal life.

“Playing hockey growing up and moving into coaching was so special for me, and I quickly realized how much I wanted to be able to coach my son once he is old enough to play,” said Bowden. “We are super grateful that a solution (Spinraza) exists in Canada, however we believe that Zolgensma will give Max the best quality of life moving forward.”

The family did not have a lot of time to absorb the information, but the community of Fairview was quick to act. They immediately set up a GoFundMe page and began soliciting donations for the medication.

“I cannot understate how amazing the community of Fairview has been since we heard the news,” said Bowden. “They have been incredibly helpful over the past few weeks, and I am realizing now that I live in the most supportive community in the world.”

Sheila Landry, a community member in Fairview, is quick to point out just how important Max, Bowden, and Bryarly are to Fairview.

“Bowden is a life-long hockey fan having played minor hockey in Fairview growing up. He continues to support Fairview Minor Hockey as a coach (stepping back from this when Max was born) and as a sponsor,” said Sheila. “Bryarly is also a huge supporter of our small town and sport programs. She has coached so many of our local youth in basketball. We as a community would like to show the same support that they have showed us.”

The GoFundMe currently sits at over $325,000 on the way to the $2.8 million goal.

You can follow along with Max’s journey on Instagram @movingmountainsformightymax.



Home Ice Feature

Hockey gives back across Alberta

RED DEER - The hockey community always shines brightest during the holiday season, and, despite many obstacles, 2020 is no different. Hockey Alberta is featuring the good deeds of teams from across the province this holiday season.

CAC United Sport and Cycle U16 AAA

Hockey Alberta News

For the holidays, the CAC United Sport and Cycle U16 AAA team sponsored a family through the Holiday Hamper Program. As it was a team effort, they chose to sponsor an extra large family which consisted of 4 adults and 6 youths between the ages of 2 and 15. The hamper was delivered on December 19. The first community service was "Arizona’s Goal Jar". This was a fundraiser for a young girl by the name of Arizona that was diagnosed with brain cancer and wanted to take one last trip with her family. ( Along with the monetary donation, CAC was kind enough to donate a variety of apparel and other items Arizona could take on her trip. Although this was done before Christmas, it did help make Arizona’s holidays a bit brighter.

Calgary Northstars

Hockey Alberta News

The Calgary Northstars Hockey Association have launched their very own Northstars Cares program in support of HEROS Hockey, the Calgary Flames Sports Bank, and KidSport Calgary & Area. Together with the support of their players, coaches and families the Northstars teams will be working with these organizations to learn about their impact, understand who they are supporting and raise profile, awareness and dollars for the critical work being done by these great organizations.

Fort Saskatchewan U13 AA Rangers

Hockey Alberta News

At the start of the season, the U13 AA Rangers set a goal to support the communities that they live in, even with contending with the elements of COVID-19. The players from Fort Sask, Bruderheim, Lamont, Mundare, Josephburg, Hilliard, and Willingdon raised nearly $3000 in a bottle drive early in the hockey season. After receiving additional private donations, the team was able to help the following organizations this Holiday season: Vegreville Food Bank - 150 lbs of food Fort Saskatchewan Food Bank - 300 lbs of food Lamont Food Bank - 150 lbs of food Vegreville Christmas Bureau - Toy Drive and Coats for Families Fort Sask Families First Society - Santa Workshop Santa’s for Seniors Fort Sask - Senior Secret Santa program for 8 Fort Sask Seniors, 2 Lamont Seniors, and 2 Bruderheim Seniors Proud to do our part to give a helping hand at Christmas.

Fort Saskatchewan U13 Team 1 Rangers

Hockey Alberta News

The Fort Sask U13 Team 1 Rangers is part of snow angels shovelling for local seniors. They have also done a “jersey #” cash donation to their local food bank. The team also did 3-4 Christmas cards for a local housing corporation for seniors, plus a few extras totalling 79 cards. The team is working very hard to support the community and working together as a family despite the pandemic restrictions.

Fort Saskatchewan U13 Team 3 Rangers

Hockey Alberta News

With all the uncertainty of this hockey season, the Fort Saskatchewan U13 Team 3 Rangers focused on things they could do off the ice to help in the community. The team collected 500lbs worth of food donations on behalf of the local food bank. They also worked with a local group called Santa for Seniors, fulfilling Christmas wishes for five seniors. Lastly, they chose as a team to make a donation to a local family in need, with funds raised from their team raffle.

Girls Hockey Calgary

Hockey Alberta News

Six Girls Hockey Calgary teams joined together to brings stockings to isolated seniors this past Christmas. They partnered with Olnalife, a local social venture company, to get sponsorship and source gifts to fill stockings for seniors. Three moms from the teams sewed 100 fleece stockings from donated scrap fabric. The stockings were then decorated by 100 players from U7 - U11. The players made the seniors a Christmas ornament, wrote a letter or drew a picture, and added a small gift of their choosing. The stockings were then filled with socks, gloves, masks, and other items and delivered to seniors for Christmas day in the Calgary and Airdrie area. Some of the stockings were delivered to long term care facilities where quarantine lockdown had been going on for an extended period of time.

Hanna U9 and U18 Colts

Hockey Alberta News

The Hanna U9 Colts delivered Tim Hortons Gift Certificates to all of our local RCMP members and firefighters. They gave treat trays to the Arena staff Town Administration staff. They wanted to show some love to their local Seniors, so the team wrote Christmas cards to 22 residents of the Hanna Long Term Care. As well, the Hanna U18 Colts did a "Non Contact" Food Drive at the beginning of December where they collected non-perishable goodies to be delivered to the local food bank.

KC Centennials U16 AAA

Hockey Alberta News

The KC Centennials U16 AAA team had plans to hold a huge winter clothing drive for one of their December games in the AEHL to help support YESS (Youth Empowerment and Support Services) Edmonton. However, due to COVID-19 restrictions in Alberta, the game was temporarily put on pause. So quickly switching gears, the players and families decided to donate money to purchase the gift cards and items as needed and requested by YESS in Edmonton to youth in need. The gift cards were delivered on December 11. In addition, on our social media handles and at, they are encouraging others to do the same at The donations given by the players and families of the KC Centennials U16 AAA will be presented to youth in need who use YESS in Edmonton at their annual YESS Christmas function.

KC Squires U15 AAA

Hockey Alberta News

The KC Squires joined St. Michael’s Health Group to partner their players with residents at their senior care facility to bring them some Christmas joy. Each team member wrote a letter to a resident, and sent along their player profile with a sweet treat. The team is looking forward to hearing back from their pen pals in the days before Christmas. They hope to keep the friendship going beyond the Christmas season.

Lethbridge Val Matteoti Golden Hawks

Hockey Alberta News

The Golden Hawks organized a social distanced drive-thru food drive to donate non-pershiables to the InterFaith food bank in Lethbridge.

Lloydminster NAI U11 Tier 1

Hockey Alberta News

With money raised from a bottle drive and the donations of families, the young men of U11 Northern Alberta Interlock Tier 1 spent their time off ice supporting the Catholic Social Service Angels of Hope Campaign. With the money raised, they spent an afternoon shopping and purchased gifts for 78 children in need. The shopping was done at local businesses, mainly the Lloydminster Home Hardware, to help these businesses stay afloat during a tough year.

Lloydminster U13 Blazers City 5

Hockey Alberta News

The Lloydminster U13 Blazers City 5 did a virtual food drive to fill up the shelves for the local food bank. They solicited donations and had a day for the team to pick up on doorsteps.

Maple Leaf Athletic Club

Hockey Alberta News

The Maple Leaf Athletic Club has nine hockey teams this year from U13 AA to U18 AAA. With the pandemic this year, they decided to give back to the community by each team having a Santa Toy Drive game to help Santa’s Anonymous. As an organization, they collected over 600 toys, $290.00 in cash and $1490.00 in gift cards.

Red Deer U11 RCM Transport Renegades

Hockey Alberta News

The Red Deer U11 RCM Transport Renegades started a kindness challenge at the beginning of December to spread some joy through the community. Players were asked to complete acts of kindness and then report back to the team during their weekly team zoom meeting. The team decided to make Christmas Cards for the residents of Westpark Lodge; an Assisted Living Centre located in Red Deer. There are 36 residents that live there and the team wanted to ensure each person received a card, so they placed a bin on their coach’s front step and collected the cards over the course of the past week, and delivered a total of 39 cards to the lodge.

Spruce Grove U7 Flying Unicorns

Hockey Alberta News

The Spruce Grove U7 Flying Unicorns collected items for the local food bank. This week, they dropped off 150 items and a $50 grocery store gift card to Parkland Food Bank.

Centre Ice Podcast

Centre Ice Podcast - Episode Five: Healthy at Home

Episode Five of the Center Ice Podcast focuses on how athletes (and everyone) can stay fit and healthy at home while sports remain on pause.

Doug Crashley of Crash Conditioning in Calgary and Dr. Dhiren Naidu, Team Physician for the Edmonton Oilers joined the show to discuss proper fitness and nutrition, respectively.

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Episode Links: Hockey at Home > | Hockey Gives Back > | World Juniors 50/50 > | HAF pairs up with Major League Socks > | Perfect Pair[ing] Contest > | Parent Engagement Videos >

More Episodes >

Centre Ice is the brand-new Hockey Alberta podcast, featuring the latest news and views on amateur hockey across the province. Subscribe now on your favourite podcast app!


2021 Female Hockey Day to be hosted virtually on January 30 & 31

RED DEER - Hockey Alberta is pleased to announce that 2021 Female Hockey Day will be taking place virtually (via Zoom) on January 30 & 31.

This event will include a variety of sessions covering relevant topics for athletes from U9 - U18, and feature speakers from the national, provincial, and community levels – all to celebrate female hockey.

Registration will open on January 4. Registered participants will receive the Zoom link the day prior to the event.

2021 Female Hockey Day >

Fuelled by Gatorade

2021 Female Hockey Day will be Fuelled by Gatorade. Each participant registered will receive an event package including a Gatorade bottle, towel, and other materials. Register by January 26 to receive your package for the event.

2020 Female Hockey Day Photo Gallery >


Six Team Alberta alumni selected to Team Canada

RED DEER – Six team Alberta alumni are among the 25 players named to Canada’s National Junior Team for the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship, Dec. 25-Jan. 5 in Edmonton.

Goaltender Taylor Gauthier, defencemen Bowen Byram and Kaiden Guhle, and forwards Kirby Dach, Dylan Holloway, and Peyton Krebs will all skate for Canada. Byram is among the six returning players who won gold at the 2020 World Juniors.

Gauthier, Byram, Dach, Holloway and Krebs played for Team Alberta in the 2016 WHL Cup, while Guhle skated for Team Alberta in 2017.

Defenceman Jake Sanderson, who also played for Team Alberta in 2017, was selected to play for the U.S.A. National Junior Team. Sanderson grew up playing hockey in Alberta, but as a dual citizen, opted to join the USA Hockey National Development Team Program in 2018.

The 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship begins on Christmas Day with three games before Canada kicks off its tournament schedule on Dec. 26 against Germany at 6 p.m. ET/3 p.m. PT. TSN and RDS, the official broadcast partners of Hockey Canada, will broadcast all 28 tournament games and the 10 pre-tournament games that begin Dec. 20. TSN Radio will also provide comprehensive tournament coverage, including all Team Canada pre-tournament and tournament games through to the gold medal game.

Centre Ice Podcast

Centre Ice Podcast - Episode Four: Navigating the Pause

Episode Four of the Center Ice podcast focuses on how teams who are affected by the Government of Alberta’s Public Health Order can navigate the pause on hockey.

Hockey Alberta CEO Rob Litwinski joins the podcast once again, and discusses the current state of hockey in Alberta, while High Performance Coach Mentor Barry Medori shares what coaches can do to keep their teams engaged.

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Episode Links: Return to Hockey Plan > | Public Health Order FAQ > | Vira, Zinger elected to Hockey Alberta Board > | Terry Engen joins Hockey Canada Board of Directors > | Every Kid Every Community awards $34,000 in grants > | HAF pairs up with Major League Socks > | Perfect Pair[ing] Contest > | Coach of the Month - Randy Rosen > | Three Albertan Officials selected for 2021 WJC > | Hockey for Life: Kyle Kowalski > | Hockey Canada U16 Portal > | Barry Medori: How to Keep Your Players Engaged >

More Episodes >

Centre Ice is the brand-new Hockey Alberta podcast, featuring the latest news and views on amateur hockey across the province, with new episodes on the first and third Thursday of the month. Subscribe now on your favourite podcast app!

Hockey for Life

Hockey For Life - Kyle Kowalski

Alberta’s hockey community is filled with incredible people and incredible stories. From those who coached us, volunteered for us, kept our skates sharp and our ice fast, those who get up before the sun and make sure we’re up too. To the players who went to their first ever practice, scored the game winning goal or made it to the big leagues - we all have stories to tell about the game we love, and why we love it.

When Edmonton’s Kyle Kowalski got the call that he would be officiating at the 2021 World Junior Hockey Championships in his hometown later this month, he was hit with a flood of emotion.

“I got a phone call from our referee-in-chief. He just said ‘congratulations on your selection’, and I was just absolutely floored," Kowalski said.

First, he is a born and raised Edmontonian, so working a prestigious international tournament in his home town is an honour.

But he also has officiating in his blood. Not only is Kowalski a long-time Hockey Alberta official, his father Kevin was an official who also has a tie to the World Juniors. In 1995, his father officiated an exhibition game in Grande Prairie when the World Junior Championship was hosted in Red Deer.

Kowalski idolized his father growing up, so every time he steps on the ice to officiate, it’s a special moment for him.

“One of my fondest memories is still just walking behind my dad into the rink at Akinsdale Arena, and then seeing him on the ice as your hero, and now I have the ability to do that," he said.

Kowalski has previously worked the 2018 World Junior A Challenge, 2018 Hlinka/Gretzky Cup and was selected to officiate the 2020 USports Cup that was cancelled due to COVID-19.

Kowalski will work as part of a crew of 26 Canadian Officials assigned to the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship. He will be joined by fellow Albertans Fraser Lawrence and Deion Foster.

Hockey Alberta wants to share your stories and celebrate the hockey community in our province.

Let’s thank those who show up for us every day and highlight the depth of hockey in Alberta.

Each week we are highlighting your stories on the Hockey Alberta social media. Tell us why you, or someone you know is ‘Hockey For Life’ - the impact hockey has had on you or the impact you’ve had on hockey

Hockey Alberta News
Record an interview, tell us your story on camera or write to us in the form below.
Hockey Alberta News
Keep your story brief - submissions may be edited for length and clarity. Videos will be edited to under two minutes.
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