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Home Ice Feature

Black History Month – Zack Dailey’s unique journey through hockey

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

RED DEER – If you were to Google the small town of Healy, Alaska on a map Zack Dailey wouldn’t blame you.

That’s the hometown of the MacEwan University head coach. It has a population of just over a 1,000 people and it’s where the now 34-year-old got his introduction to hockey when he was seven.

“I grew up on a homestead. Our closest neighbour was a couple kilometres away. Pretty cool childhood where you just go out in the forest and go explore and do whatever you want. I grew up it was soccer in the summer and hockey in the winter,” Dailey recalled. “(Hockey) was just something I used to hang out with my friends. To be honest, the first few years I was probably the worst player on the team.”

Even with the early struggles on the ice, Dailey fell in love with the sport and the experience of playing where he did.

“All my friends were there, so I kind of kept with it. But yeah, it was a unique outdoorsy experience. The only rink we had was an outdoor rink so we’re out there until minus 30 and then they’d start canceling practices, but I had a lot of cool experiences,” Dailey said. “Parents gave me some quick, cool opportunities that I probably wouldn’t have had otherwise.”

Dailey got better. So much so that his family decided to move to Alberta when he was 13 so he could go up against better competition.

The level of competition in Alberta was a big step up for Dailey. In Alaska, there are ‘A’ and ‘B’ teams that are considered competitive, and then ‘C’ and ‘D’ teams are considered house league. Healy’s lone team was a ‘D’ level team and would play against other teams from towns that had populations of 1,000 to 3,000.

“I caught the eye of a coach from the ‘A’ team, but we would have to travel to Fairbanks to play. The travel was outrageous … it was two and a half hours each way, three days a week and usually with some crappy road conditions,” Dailey said. “We’d go to the (University of Alaska Fairbanks) Nanooks, Division I hockey games and everyone from their team played in the AJHL. We had no clue what that was, so we looked on the Internet and went ‘I guess that’s where they’re developing hockey players. So, we made the move to Leduc.”

Dailey’s first taste of hockey in Alberta was when he decided to play spring hockey before enrolling into the Alberta minor hockey system.

“It was a big jump. In three years, I went from ‘D’ to playing AAA. But I felt like I was ready for it … the spring hockey helped prepare me,” he said. “It was a lot more commitment, better coaching. But it was a lot of fun and I’m so thankful that my dad and mom gave me the opportunity to do that. Because without that there’s no way I would win as far as I did in hockey.”

Dailey’s minor hockey career reached its peak when he tallied 41 goals and 93 points in 39 games with the U15 AAA Sherwood Park Flyers winning him co-MVP and co-winner of the scoring title while helping Sherwood Park to the league finals. His stellar minor hockey career got him an opportunity with the Western Hockey League’s Everett Silvertips where he went on to be named captain in his final two seasons.

Once he wrapped up his junior and university career at the University of Alberta, Dailey set out to play professional hockey overseas. When that didn’t pan out, he turned to coaching when he was named assistant coach with MacEwan University men’s team in 2017. He stayed in that role until he took over the head coaching role partway through last season and had the interim tag removed ahead of the 2023-24 campaign.

“I wanted to stay involved in hockey … but I didn’t know what capacity. Coaching is something I kind of fell into,” Dailey said. “From playing to coaching, I think that helped me. With all the coaches I’ve had, I’ve had some amazing coaches. It’s great to be able to take what you like from people, and then, you know, discard the stuff you didn’t really agree with.”

After missing the playoffs last season, Dailey has led his plucky group of Griffins back to the Canada West postseason in 2024, after a collecting three of a possible four points in back-to-back games against the Manitoba Bisons.

But maybe more importantly, Dailey, who comes from a Nigerian background, has used his journey to become a role model for a new generation of Black athletes to show them that they can achieve their goals just as former National Hockey League players Jarome Iginla and George Laraque showed him when he was growing up.

“There’s obviously not a lot of Black hockey players so I’m quite proud of where I’ve gotten to and where I’m at right now. Being a Black man and leading a university hockey team is something that I’m really, really proud of,” he said. “I think that whatever path you’re going down, if you see people who look like you, and who have the same experience as you, it makes it a lot easier. I know, as a kid, the hardest thing for me was always being the only Black player on the team. There’s no one to relate to, if anything was said I was the only one dealing with it. And so that part for me was very, very hard. But you know, knowing that people have went through before and have succeeded. That’s a big plus for me. And that helped me a whole bunch. So, I’m hoping that younger kids see it that way too.”

Home Ice Feature

National Volunteer Week: Brock Armstrong

Brock Armstrong is doing his part to ensure kids from across the province are getting introduced to the game of hockey.

Through the NHL/NHLPA First Shift Program which is designed to ensure a positive experience for new hockey families. The program is open to all children between the ages of six and 10 years old, who have never previously enrolled in minor hockey within Canada or the NHL/NHLPA First Shift program.

After growing up and coaching in Sylvan Lake, Armstrong joined the program in 2015. He has been involved with it since and was one of the volunteers for the most recent event in Red Deer, which included mentor coaches from the Red Deer Polytechnic Kings and Queens.

“It’s so rewarding. Um, what I tell our mentor coaches in the Kings and Queens is you are these kids first ever hockey coach. And that’s a really important role in our community, in our culture, in Canada and anywhere,” Armstrong said. “Building that impact and building that relationship is super rewarding. It’s not easy but if you can get down and build a relationship and work with the kids, it’s awesome. It’s, it’s so rewarding. You get to see the, what I like to call the aha moment. You know, a kid that is struggling, skating across the ice and then within half the lesson, suddenly, they’re burning around on their edges. And it’s not because you’re a good coach. It’s because you provide an environment that allows them to be comfortable. To be on the ice with them … I look forward to my Saturday mornings.”

Armstrong said it was an easy choice for him to get involved in the program because he loves the sport and it has done a lot for him growing up, which included bringing him closer to his father.

“Hockey does so much for our community. Hockey has done so much for me in my youth and growing up,” he said. I was always an okay player. But I was always a coach. My dad was my coach. He passed away just at the beginning of my coaching journey. It’s kind of been a bit of a healing for me. So, to give back is super easy for that.”

Armstrong believes that having the ability to host this program in cities across the province, Calgary, Red Deer and Edmonton, is hugely important and beneficial to the next generation of hockey players.

“It’s really cool. It allows Central Alberta to come together, the kids are from all over Central Alberta. So, to be able to come together and meet kids within the hockey world that are from different communities, I think is really special” he said. “Having the connection to Hockey Alberta right here really helps, as well as the Flames and Oilers along with their alumni and mascots. Not every community gets that. Being central, being here in Red Deer, it has so much to offer. With this facility and everything, but to he able to be so close to both Edmonton and Calgary is amazing. It’s awesome to be able to have all three cities along with the surrounding communities represented and get the chance to play this game.”

Home Ice Feature

National Volunteer Week: Jacinda Davis

With over 20 years of experience in various roles, Jacinda Davis is synonymous with Fort McMurray Minor Hockey.

“I’ve been in the association now for 22, almost 23 years,” Davis said. "I started out originally where I was just helping manage (her oldest son’s team). I was eased into management, then into a director role. I jumped right in and took my major role on the board that I have right now, which is the VP of Communications for Fort McMurray Minor Hockey.”

As the VP of Communications, Davis dedicates her time to the special events happening around the city.

“I work with everyone with their special events, help with our branding partners, I take care of all sponsorship, sponsors for programs, all of our volunteers … anything that has to do with our brand, those fall under my role,” she said.

What has kept Davis going throughout the years? The ability to be able to combine her two passions.

“I love the volunteering aspect of it. I truly love hockey,” Davis said. “What it has done for my kids and what I’ve seen for other kids is amazing. That’s why I put my heart and soul into it and have for many years. Even once my kids have graduated, I will continue to put many hours in to keep the programs up and going.”

One of those events that Davis was a key figure in, was Fort McMurray’s Female Hockey Day in January, an event that was very successful. It featured two days of events such as goal scoring and defensive skill sessions, as well as a try hockey event to introduce young girls to the game.

“It was a huge undertaking, because it happened right after our minor hockey week, so it was kind of one event to the other,” she said. “But it is a very passionate program with the females in it and seeing it grow. It was so worth putting in all those hours into the program to have a special event for all the girls and women.”

There has been a lot of growth in the female game across the province as well as the country. This is thanks in part to the tireless efforts of people like Davis who set up and run events such as Female Hockey Day.

“Just watching the growth, I really, truly believe it’s the power in numbers and those numbers are helping our program grow. Where we started was such a small number and now, we’ve grown to seven teams,” Davis said. “We have 132 girls in our program now, and just watching it grow … there are girls recruiting more girls. It’s a very special program for them to give them that feeling of togetherness.”

While she keeps busy around the rink, Davis said it’s also very important to ensure that she finds balance between work and personal life.

“Well, I originally started my job as my own business owner to be able to work my job around hockey hours,” Davis said. “So, I have continued doing that right up until today. I do put in a lot of hours, but I know that it’s going to come to an end (when her daughter graduates out next year) and I’m going to miss it when it’s gone. So, I’m going to take advantage of it while it’s still going.”

A hockey community is always looking for more volunteers to help the game run smoothly and grow successfully. Volunteers are part of the blueprint that helps the community bloom during hockey season. Davis believes that volunteering can be the most rewarding and enjoyable experience.

“It may seem big and overwhelming at first, but the scariness of it is not as bad as it looks or seems. What you get back is rewarding … when people are in awe or so thankful, you see the kids laughing and smiling, that’s what it’s all about,” Davis said. “All those hiccups that you think you’re going to have, or may have, nobody knows those weren’t supposed to happen. To the outside world, it’s flawless. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time volunteering and it’s been so worth it.”

Home Ice Feature

The passing of the torch: Jason Chimera passing on hockey knowledge to daughter Ryann

Like father, like daughter.

The U15 AA Edmonton Pandas Black won the Alberta Female Hockey League Provincial Championship on March 24 in a thrilling gold medal win over the Red Deer Sutter Fund Chiefs. Two key pieces of that championship team were former National Hockey League player Jason Chimera and his daughter, Ryann.

Ryann, a star forward in the U15 division was the second leading point producer with 20 goals and 66 points in 31 games, while also leading the provincial tournament with eight points in five games. Her father was the team’s head coach, and with the help of assistant coach Dave Cooper guided the Pandas to a 25-5-1 record as well as a provincial championship.

“It was amazing, I wasn’t even thinking in the moment. It was just so overwhelming because at the start of the season, none of us really thought we would be at Provincials,” Ryann said following the 3-1 gold medal win. “It was amazing to win and have that moment for our team.”

“I was crying at the end of it because our girls performed so well. They were doing everything right,” Jason said. “They did everything we practiced, and they brought it to a whole new level, which was really cool for the coaches. Dave and I were just super thrilled with the girls and as a coach as well as a dad, it was an outstanding effort from our goalies on out and you couldn’t have asked for anything more from them.”

The 44-year-old Chimera played parts of 17 seasons and more than 1,100 games in the National Hockey League with the Edmonton Oilers, Columbus Blue Jackets, Washington Capitals, New York Islanders and Anaheim Ducks. Once he retired, he transitioned into coaching, first coaching his son Cale before spending the past two seasons with Ryann.

While the family connection is there, the last name being the same doesn’t result in special treatment.

“I always tell the girls that she’s not my daughter when I’m coaching,” Jason said. “I coach everyone the same way and while I couldn’t be prouder of her, both as a coach and a father. But I try to remove myself from that when I’m coaching. She works extremely hard, and she works for everything that she gets.”

Ryann said that while she doesn’t get special treatment, her father’s coaching guidance has helped her take her game to the next level.

“Some days are good, and some days are bad. But I love it because I’m getting help from him away from the rink that I wouldn’t get from another coach,” she said. “He’ll tell me what I can do better, and he pushes me harder. I think if I had another coach, they wouldn’t be as straight forward with me, and I couldn’t be as straight forward with them. It’s a win-win situation.”

The duo are both competitive people, always trying to one up each other in their daily lives, which makes for an interesting and exciting dynamic between them.

“We’re always competing with one another and it’s a good challenge because we see each other 24/7. I see him on the bench, I see him at the rink, see him at home. We make each other better because we’re not scared to tell each other what they need to hear,” Ryann said. “I’m not afraid to tell him that he needs to relax a bit on the bench when he’s going a bit too crazy. We’re very up front with one another and it helps. We still have a lot to learn from each other, but I wouldn’t want to go through it with anyone else.”

“Sometimes as a coach, you kind of get in a mode where you’re all over the place,” Jason said. “If the game gets tense and she’s like, ‘hey, Jason, relax. We got this.’ It’s like, okay, we do have this. For her to be 13, soon to be 14 and have that composure … it’s cool for me to witness.”

Ryann is looking to follow in her father’s footsteps by becoming a professional hockey player. With the Professional Women’s Hockey League having so much success in its first season, having the opportunity to play professionally is now a reality that she dreamed about growing up.

“Before (the PWHL) I was like ‘what am I going to do for a job when I’m older?’ Then all of a sudden all of these options come up,” she said. “For a long time now, I’ve wanted to go to Boston College, and I’ve always wanted to play professional hockey … but I couldn’t play in the NHL. Now with the PWHL, it’s so cool to see all these girls have their dreams come true. They have somewhere to play when they’re older. It’s such an exciting thought to know I have somewhere to go and something to work towards.”

Home Ice Feature

International Women’s Day

RED DEER – March 8 is International Women’s Day and Hockey Alberta is taking the time to celebrate and recognize our female staff and volunteers who dedicate their time to make our game great.

International Women’s Day is a global day to recognize the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.

Celebrated annually, the day serves to celebrate women’s achievements, educate and raise awareness for women’s equality, call for positive change advancing women and lobby for accelerated gender parity.

Hundreds of women have created a space in the game for themselves as players, coaches, officials, executives, and volunteers at all levels. In addition, each year there are dozens of women volunteering annually as executive members on Regional Officials committees, and as coaches, trainers and therapists, and directors of operations for events such as the Alberta Challenge and the Summer Showcase, and Team Alberta programming.

To honour, celebrate and recognize the women across the province involved with Hockey Alberta, we wanted to highlight our staff and volunteers.

Hockey Alberta Staff

Darcy Smith

How many years have you spent with Hockey Alberta?
Four years.

What is your current role with Hockey Alberta?
Manager, Hockey Alberta Foundation & Recruitment.

Do you have other roles with Hockey Alberta?
Volunteer - Director of Operations for Alberta Cup & Prospects Cup

Why did you get involved with Hockey Alberta?
Fell in love with the game growing up in the rinks with my Dad and brothers involved in the sport and then spent many volunteer hours as a "Hockey Mom" managing my boys teams. I love to give back to our communities and see the spirit of hockey alive and well. This is so much more than a game -it is a way of life, that continues to give back!

What does it mean to you to be a woman in sports?
I am a true advocate of women in sports! Love that we are making our game more accessible to those who want to play. We are providing opportunities not only on the ice but by growing strong future leaders within our communities. The future is bright for women in sports!

Morgen Kidney

How many years have you spent with Hockey Alberta?
Two years.

What is your current role with Hockey Alberta?
Coordinator, Minor Leagues.

Why did you get involved with Hockey Alberta?
Hockey is the sport I grew up playing and loving, and it brought me to many different places in life as a player. The only part of Canada it didn’t bring me to was out west, so when the opportunity to get back into the sport I loved (this time as a professional) came up... I had to apply!

What does it mean to you to be a woman in sports?
I’ve been lucky to have worked only in sport organizations where being a woman is just that... nothing to do with the job, just your personal identification. However, I feel like I have something to prove in succeeding within my career. I’m not sure if it’s the factor of being a woman, or just being in such a sought-after employment of sports management.

Cassie Campbell

How many years have you spent with Hockey Alberta?
One year.

What is your current role with Hockey Alberta?
Coordinator, Grassroots Growth & Retention.

Why did you get involved with Hockey Alberta?
I got involved with Hockey Alberta because of the impact of this role specifically. I am passionate about reducing barriers to participation and creating opportunities for hockey to meet people where they are.

What does it mean to you to be a woman in sports?
Being a woman in sport means opportunities for myself, for my family and for other women in sports. My involvement through different roles in sports has given me so many new and positive experiences, opportunities for personal and professional growth, and a community that is far reaching and tightly knit, where you can always find support.

Carlia Schwab

How many years have you spent with Hockey Alberta?
Two months.

What is your current role with Hockey Alberta?
Manager, EDI & Safe Sport.

Why did you get involved with Hockey Alberta?
It has always been a passion of mine to work within the sports world, and specifically within Hockey. From a young age I spent a large portion of my time in rinks and around Hockey. Having never gotten to play the sport myself I always thought a career within hockey out of my reach. It wasn’t until my position was created that I found this long held career dream was within reach. I appreciate being given the opportunity to bring my work knowledge and expertise into the Hockey world.

What does it mean to you to be a woman in sports?
Growing up around hockey was exciting however, it had never crossed my mind that hockey could be a thing for me, that I could play. Being a woman in sports today means that young girls can have a voice and an advocate, something I wish there could have been for me. For those girls who grow up in rinks and around hockey, they can now be presented with new, inclusive and competitive opportunities to play. Having never had the opportunity to play hockey being a women in sport now allows me to use my voice to influence change, to help create safe spaces for girls and women and help to progress hockey into a place with more inclusive options for females.

Ellery Platts

How many years have you spent with Hockey Alberta?
One year.

What is your current role with Hockey Alberta?
Coordinator, Social Media.

Why did you get involved with Hockey Alberta?
Working for Hockey Alberta allows me to combine all my passions into one space. My love for sports, meeting and working with new people, photography, and seeing new places. Hockey Alberta allows me to expand my abilities and grow within an industry I love.

What does it mean to you to be a woman in sports?
It means innovating and bringing a new voice into a set space. It means helping create a path for those who come after me. Being a woman working in sports is demonstrating to young girls that boundaries only exist in our minds. There’s always a way to turn what you love into a career.

Sam Maupin

please-add-head-shot-yourself-feature_0_240307090252_1How many years have you spent with Hockey Alberta?
I have over 15 years experience with various roles in club teams, MHAs and Hockey Alberta commitee roles but have recently become employed with Hockey Alberta.

What is your current role with Hockey Alberta?
Manager of Member Services.

Do you have other roles with Hockey Alberta?
I am also the outgoing President of the North Central Hockey League, as well as the Lead Registrar of the Blindman Valley Minor Hockey Association. I am also wrapping up my time as a member of the Hockey Alberta Minor Admin Committee.

Why did you get involved with Hockey Alberta?
For me the progression was natural. I became involved with Hockey Alberta as a result of being involved with the sport at local levels. I became involved at the local level from a pure love of the game and a desire to contribute to its success and longevity locally. A important factor here was the ask. A group asked me to get involved and contribute to their team. I believe this is an Important factor in getting girls and women involved in sport. Reach out and ask them to join your organization. Managing the sport from an off ice perspective necessitated positive relationships with Hockey Alberta. That knowledge, experience and relationship has manifested into many other opportunities the most recent being my role as the Manager of Member Services.

What does it mean to you to be a woman in sports?
I enjoy being a woman in sport. While hockey has made great progress in diversity and inclusion I value my ability to show young girls and other women that there is space for them in hockey. On or off the ice.

Kara Spady

please-add-head-shot-yourself-feature_0_240306060314How many years have you spent with Hockey Alberta?
Two and a half years.

What is your current role with Hockey Alberta?
Marketing and Promotions Manager.

Why did you get involved with Hockey Alberta?
My story isn’t much different than most who grew up playing in small-town, Alberta. Being one of only three girls in our era who played organized hockey, I learned all the great and hard life-skills and lessons that the sport has to offer. I fell in love with the game on the dugout and I still love the game most when I’m playing with my friends and family. Hockey continues to teach me a lot and working in it has given me once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. My role at Hockey Alberta allows me to stay close to the game, share my passion for the sport and support initiatives that help people experience the great game with their friends and family.

What does it mean to you to be a woman in sports?
Growing up, I was surrounded by strong women of all ages, who broke glass ceilings and held space in sport. Because of them, I never believed I couldn’t do something because I was a girl and have never felt like I had a "timer" on my life in sports. All girls should have role models like that. Whether you know it or not, when you’re a woman in sports, someone is always watching, learning and being shown that a life in sport does exist.

Michelle Skilnick

please-add-head-shot-yourself-feature_0_240306050229How many years have you spent with Hockey Alberta?
17 and a half years.

What is your current role with Hockey Alberta?
Manager, Events & Community Engagement.

Why did you get involved with Hockey Alberta?
Started as an admin assistant in 2006 as I was looking for a change in employment and wanted not just a job, but something that I enjoyed and was passionate about.

What does it mean to you to be a woman in sports?
I’m very thankful and fortunate to be able to work in sports.

Kendall Newell

Kendall_NewellHow many years have you spent with Hockey Alberta?
Eight years.

What is your current role with Hockey Alberta?
Senior Manager, Competition.

Why did you get involved with Hockey Alberta?
I’ve had a lot of great opportunities and experiences due to my participation in the sport of hockey. Working at Hockey Alberta has allowed me to be part of an organization that not only helps teach the values and create positive opportunities on the ice, but also help guide our youth towards gaining important life skills and help develop them into contributing members of society.

What does it mean to you to be a woman in sports?:

It has been incredible to watch the growth of female sports. More women and young girls are playing hockey, we’re seeing a greater diversity of female coaches and officials at all levels and there are more women being incorporated into leadership positions across the province. I believe that we are going to see more growth and diversity within our sport, which is extremely positive.

Danielle Wheeler

How many years have you spent with Hockey Alberta?
Two years.

What is your current role with Hockey Alberta?
Manager, Female Development.

Why did you get involved with Hockey Alberta?
I changed jobs from my career in accounting for 12 years to work at Hockey Alberta. The opportunity came at the perfect time. As the saying goes "find a job you love and you will never work a day in your life". I love the game and am very fortunate to be able to work within the sport I love and the sport that helped mold me.

What does it mean to you to be a woman in sports?:
I feel as though being a woman in sport shows other females, no matter what their age, there are no limits to what females can achieve.

Holly McDavid

How many years have you spent with Hockey Alberta?
Nine years.

What is your current role with Hockey Alberta?
Coordinator, Member Services.

Why did you get involved with Hockey Alberta?
Being involved in multiple sports growing up I knew I wanted to study and work in the field. Working at Hockey Alberta allows me to be immersed in sport on a daily basis.

What does it mean to you to be a woman in sports?
Embracing opportunities to make an impactful difference on the lives of young athletes and to encourage representation at all levels of sport.

Hockey Alberta Board of Directors

Kirstan Jewell

How many years have you spent with Hockey Alberta?
Two and a half years.

What is your current role with Hockey Alberta?
Director at Large.

Why did you get involved with Hockey Alberta?
Primarily as a way to give back to sport that has been so valuable to my family over the years. I care about every player in every arena. As I engaged more, it has also become very much about learning, listening and helping to shape hockey culture for future generations.

What does it mean to you to be a woman in sports?
It means continuing to make a difference every day, until no one actually needs to ask that question. Until then, it means bringing a voice for diversity and change, and it means bringing empathy to decisions and experiences.

Karen Lee

please-add-head-shot-yourself-feature_0_240307040055_2 How many years have you spent with Hockey Alberta?
Two years.

What is your current role with Hockey Alberta?
Board of Director.

Do you have other roles with Hockey Alberta?
Member of the Hockey Alberta Audit & Risk Committee.

Why did you get involved with Hockey Alberta?
Like many Canadians, I grew up watching hockey with my family. My earliest memory of hockey was as a six-year-old, going to a Montreal Canadoens game at the Montreal Forum with my late father. Shortly after my family immigrated to Canada, one of my brothers started playing hockey. My brother has three sons and they all play hockey or are referees. One of my nephews played hockey in a few Canadian provinces, in Junior B and then Junior A. He also played internationally in the KHL for a year. When my nephews were playing hockey, I always noticed that their hockey teams not only emphasized teamwork, but they also instilled in the children, a strong sense of community as part of the game. This is an exciting time of change for all sports, especially for women in sports. I was impressed with Hockey Alberta’s progress in achieving diversity, equity and inclusion. I joined the board of Hockey Alberta because I wanted to apply my professional experience and diverse perspectives & experiences in order to support Hockey Alberta in creating positive opportunities and experiences for all players through innovative leadership and exceptional service.

What does it mean to you to be a woman in sports?
As a female growing up in a traditional Asian immigrant household, my parents worked multiple jobs and were unable to take me to and from activities, outside of going to school. I did not have the opportunity to participate in sports as a child because it was not seen as a priority for a girl, which was not always the case for my older brothers. As an adult, I became keenly aware of the impact of missing out on participating in sports as a child and how it has affected my life. I believe in the power of sport to develop social, life, leadership, team and community building skills. Since I did not have opportunities for sports outside of school as a child, my sport journey began as an adult. I served as a volunteer ’blue jacket’ with the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. I am a Jury Member & Official for the International Bobsleigh & Skeleton Federation (IBSF). As a Hockey Alberta board member and member of the Audit & Risk Committee, I support and advance Hockey Alberta’s vision, mission and values. I believe it’s important to give all children the opportunity to participate in sports. I would like women to know that even though they may not have had the opportunity to participate in sports in their youth, women can still participate and make a meaningful contribution in!

Hockey Alberta Foundation Board of Directors

Lisa Vlooswyk

How many years have you spent with Hockey Alberta?
Four years.

What is your current role with Hockey Alberta?
Board Member on the Hockey Alberta Foundation Board.

Why did you get involved with Hockey Alberta?
My son has been playing hockey since he was a Timbit! It has brought him such great joy and we have wonderful family memories of all of his time at the rink. He was recently drafted in the first round to a WHL team and looks forward to playing there full-time next year. Although I am not a proficient skater, I see how much happiness it has brought our son, and I want to make sure that every child in Alberta who would like to learn the game can have that opportunity. Our Foundation’s motto: Every Kid Every Community, is why I volunteer.

What does it mean to you to be a woman in sports?
I competed at a National level in gymnastics, competed for the University of Calgary on their varsity Track and Field team, and am an eight-time Canadian Long Drive Champion in golf. My top finish at the World Long Drive Championships is second place. I believe that sport has taught me about dedication, commitment, hard work, competition, and sportsmanship and has given me the confidence and character that I have brought into every aspect of my life. Sport has been a gift in my life and I believe that all girls should be involved in sport at a young age for this reason. I am proud that my son from a young age has always seen women as athletes because his mom was an athlete.

Minor Discipline Committee

Sharlene Cook

How many years have you spent with Hockey Alberta?
10 years.

What is your current role with Hockey Alberta?
Minor Discipline, RSC Edmonton.

Why did you get involved with Hockey Alberta?
Hockey Edmonton needed a smart, hard working, rule understanding person to fill the role of Discipline and take the role on with Hockey Alberta.

What does it mean to you to be a woman in sports?
We as woman are trailblazers and I firmly believe we can see the potential in the game for not only woman, but all who want to play the game. I believe we see things differently than our male counterparts and bring a different perspective to the game. We are fierce in our dedication to the game and our roles within the game we all love.

Elite Female hockey

Lise Côté

How many years have you spent with Hockey Alberta?
Eight years.

What is your current role with Hockey Alberta?
Chair of the Alberta Female Hockey League.

Why did you get involved with Hockey Alberta?
My kids were nearing the end of their hockey journey, but I wasn’t quite ready to bid farewell to the rink. Had it not been for my close friend’s recommendation, I likely wouldn’t be here. Having served as both a team manager and president of the association, I felt it was time to join a different committee.

What does it mean to you to be a woman in sports?
Being a woman in sports encompasses facing unique challenges, breaking barriers and advocating for equality. Witnessing the evolution of girls hockey over the years has been gratifying, and knowing that I might have played a tiny part in that progress is rewarding.

Jody Forbes

How many years have you spent with Hockey Alberta?
Over 10 years.

What is your current role with Hockey Alberta?
Vice Chair for Elite Female Committee.

Why did you get involved with Hockey Alberta?
I had sat on numerous Hockey Alberta committees and task groups during my time with Hockey Calgary and Girls Hockey Calgary, so when I moved on from those organizations it was natural for me to take a role with Hockey Alberta’s Elite Female Committee.

What does it mean to you to be a woman in sports?
I am extremely passionate about female sport and the benefit to all women and girls from being involved in sport. Growing up as a female in competitive sport and it taught me about commitment, dedication, leadership, and gave me confidence. I want to be able to give that back to our next generation of girls so they can experience the same benefits. The retention rates for girls in sport is appalling and I want to be able to positively impact those sporting experiences so we can continue to grow female hockey and keep girls on the ice.

Life Member

Annie Orton

How many years have you spent with Hockey Alberta?
Since 1998.

What is your current role with Hockey Alberta?
Life Member.

Why did you get involved with Hockey Alberta?
I wanted to make the game better for all players.

What does it mean to you to be a woman in sports?
I’m proud of the impact women have had on hockey. As administrators coaches officials and players.


Kelsey Hagan

How many years have you spent with Hockey Alberta?
Nine years.

What is your current role with Hockey Alberta?

Do you have other roles with Hockey Alberta?
On the executive board for Central Region - Female Coaching & Mentorship.

Why did you get involved with Hockey Alberta?
I was initially involved in officiating in Ontario and then I moved to Calgary and joined Hockey Alberta. In my first few years of officiating, I had many mentors who coached and helped develop me as an official. Without them, I wouldn’t be where I am today. When I moved to Alberta, I wanted to be more involved in mentorship so I could give back. I started by running our Female Development Mini-Clinic once a year, and now I have been on the executive pushing for development opportunities for our female officials for three years. My goal is to help up-and-coming female officials the same way my mentors helped me.

What does it mean to you to be a woman in sports?
To be a woman in sports is to be part of a community of women who are proud of who we are and how far we have come. It can be hard sometimes, especially in a [hockey] world that has been mostly male-dominated for a long time, but together, we can do amazing things. I believe it’s important to empower, challenge, and encourage each other so we can continue to push the limits, make a difference, and see how far we can go.

Brenda Honish

How many years have you spent with Hockey Alberta?
46 years.

What is your current role with Hockey Alberta?
Official and the Female Director on the Central Region Board.

Do you have other roles with Hockey Alberta?
Director with the Okotoks Referee Association Liaison for the Okotoks Referee Association with the Okotoks Minor Hockey Association.

Why did you get involved with Hockey Alberta?
Played hockey and wanted to learn the rules, then got hooked on officiating. Joined Referee Boards to give back to my referee association. Also an assignor for Okotoks for the past 30 years.

What does it mean to you to be a woman in sports?
When I started there were not many females that played hockey, let alone referee. My parents raised me to know I could do anything boys did and with three brothers, I had to do whatever they did. I basically thought that doing whatever boys did was normal for girls, hockey was a big part of our lives. When I’d officiate some people thought it was great to see a female and some told me to go back into the kitchen. That comment made me more determined to do the best I could and get more females involved. While skating female hockey, I was constantly recruiting females and in Okotoks, we went from just me to 17 females one season. I would mentor each of them personally and encourage them to reach for the stars. Finally there are more opportunities for female officials, it’s so exciting. I had the opportunity to skate the 2000 Alberta Winter Games, Senior A Women’s Provincials and the female division in the Mac’s Tournament. I thoroughly enjoy working with the young officials and volunteering on the various boards. It’s all about the people I’ve met and the friendships I’ve made, that keep me coming back year after year, on and off the ice!

Karen Kane

How many years have you spent with Hockey Alberta?
Since the 1990’s.

What is your current role with Hockey Alberta?
Volunteer: Registrar for Central Region Referees.

Do you have other roles with Hockey Alberta?
Not currently. Over the years have been a goalie, on-ice official and administrator. In early 1990s was President of SAWHA (Southern Alberta Women’s Hockey Association). In the late 1990s was Senior Rep on Female Council. Was a referee instructor for Central Region (Central Zone) from 2000-2018. Have been the Central Region Registrar for a number of years now.

Why did you get involved with Hockey Alberta?
It just naturally happened because of the importance the game of hockey has had in my life. Current role is a way to hang around and give back now that I am no longer an active skater.

What does it mean to you to be a woman in sports?:
Never really thought much about that question. Hockey is for everyone and I’ve been fortunate enough to have lived that for over four decades now, first in Montreal and then in Alberta.

Minor Female Committee

Julie Feragen

How many years have you spent with Hockey Alberta?
I’m in my eighth season.

What is your current role with Hockey Alberta?
Minor Female Chair.

Why did you get involved with Hockey Alberta?
I love the sport. As a kid, I never played but grew up in a hockey house. As a parent I have two of three children played. I enjoy volunteering and this opportunity was offered to me and I felt it was a good fit. The many people throughout the years that I have met and worked with has meant a lot and some have become lifelong friendships. The people I directly associate with in Hockey Alberta are the some of the best and are always there when needed for support.

What does it mean to you to be a woman in sports?
Women in sports help with the gender stereotyping that happens on all levels. Many female athletes are role models and it is a great way to show men and women can be equals. This year with the PWHL beginning is one of the greatest steps in hockey history.

Administration Committee

Amber Boman

How many years have you spent with Hockey Alberta?
Two years.

What is your current role with Hockey Alberta?
Northeast Hockey Alberta Administrator.

Do you have other roles with Hockey Alberta?
Not necessarily with Hockey Alberta but within Hockey Alberta I do, I am the All Peace Hockey League U11 commissioner I believe for the last six years. I am also Smoky River Minor Hockey Association registrar for the last nine years, Native Hockey tournament registrar for about 17 years, Valleyview Jets senior men’s registrar for last two years. Prior to that I was the secretary and treasurer for about 23 years, and also the registrar for Valleyview minor hockey for about 10 years.

Why did you get involved with Hockey Alberta?
The northwest administration asked me if I would be interested cause we’ve worked together as local registrar to Hockey Alberta administration for 16 years, and I wanted to broaden my hockey involvement.

What does it mean to you to be a woman in sports?
I love being involved in sports and specially hockey and ball cause I have 4 children all who play or played. My three sons did hockey and my daughter did softball and my youngest son played AA baseball as well.

Seema King

please-add-head-shot-yourself-feature_0_240307104750_(1) How many years have you spent with Hockey Alberta?
Ten years.

What is your current role with Hockey Alberta?
Minor Administration - North Central Region.

Why did you get involved with Hockey Alberta?
I got involved with Hockey Alberta through Michelle Skilnick. She was with Member Services at that time and had reached out to me as a previous Registrar with my minor hockey association to see if I would be interested in a role with Hockey Alberta in Administration in my Zone.

What does it mean to you to be a woman in sports?
I think it is important for women to be involved in a sport such as hockey. To be able to increase participation and grow the game, there needs to be voices from all different backgrounds, that includes females, which is one of the fastest growing demographics in minor hockey today.

Darcie Brady

please-add-head-shot-yourself-feature_0_240307033648_(1)How many years have you spent with Hockey Alberta?
This is my first year in an official role with Hockey Alberta.

What is your current role with Hockey Alberta?
Central Alberta Admin.

Do you have other roles with Hockey Alberta?
I am also a governor for one of the minor leagues.

Why did you get involved with Hockey Alberta?
Nine years ago my oldest son came to me with an interest to play hockey and in that nine years I made a progression from a hockey mom, to manager, MHA registrar, league governor and last summer when the opportunity presented itself to become an admin for Hockey Alberta it called to me to make the jump.

What does it mean to you to be a woman in sports?
When I started playing hockey as a minor, hockey was still very much about it being a ’boys’ sport and I was on an all female team that did not have a lot of other all female opponents local to us to play. I consider my role as a women in sport to be an honour, I feel that while it is more recognized that women can and should be involved in sports at all levels and aspects; that it is important that women like myself continue to pave the way for future women. It is really exciting to me while doing work in my volunteer roles within minor hockey to be able to see that female teams are more recognized than they once were and I hope that they continue to grow in popularity.

Diane Ziemmer


How many years have you spent with Hockey Alberta?
Six years.

What is your current role with Hockey Alberta?
Zone Administrator.

Why did you get involved with Hockey Alberta?
To give back to the hockey community, to share knowledge that I had learned through grassroots rural hockey.

What does it mean to you to be a woman in sports?
Empowerment and acceptance! Proving many wrong and constantly breaking down barriers.

Janet Fairless

How many years have you spent with Hockey Alberta?
16 years.

What is your current role with Hockey Alberta?
Minor Administration Coordinator Northwest Region.

Do you have other roles with Hockey Alberta?
Minor Administration Coordinator Chair.

Why did you get involved with Hockey Alberta?
My zone needed a registrar, since then it is to try and help rural areas have a voice.

What does it mean to you to be a woman in sports?
I have never really thought myself any different, I am a person in sport.

Member Liaison

Chantel Timmons

How many years have you spent with Hockey Alberta?
Two years.

What is your current role with Hockey Alberta?
Member Liaison.

Why did you get involved with Hockey Alberta?
Simply put, I love the game! I like to be involved, and when this volunteer position came up I jumped at the offer to become a part of Hockey Alberta’s team. I previously spent over 14 years serving on my local MHA board of directors, with 6 of those years being President. I enjoy working with the MHA Presidents, as well as being able to help teams, coaches and managers clarify or interpret bylaws, regulations, and policies all to reach the same end goal....keeping the kids in the game.

What does it mean to you to be a woman in sports?
Hockey has long since been viewed as a male-dominated sport, both on and off the ice. So being a woman and able to become a part of the Hockey Alberta team has been awesome. I feel like I am seen as nothing less than an equal peer, an integral part of the team and have the same respect as anyone else does. At Hockey Alberta we are simply one team, there is no gender discrimination within and that is what creates success in our great sport of hockey.

League Scheduler

Traci Frost

How many years have you spent with Hockey Alberta?
Three years.

What is your current role with Hockey Alberta?
League Scheduler.

Why did you get involved with Hockey Alberta?
We are a big hockey family and I have always enjoyed doing what I can to be a part of the hockey community.

What does it mean to you to be a woman in sports?
Seeing the growth in women’s sports phenomenal, and exciting. It gives these young girls and women something to aspire to and to be a part of.

Training and Medical

Paige Shannon

How many years have you spent with Hockey Alberta?:
Seven years.

What is your current role with Hockey Alberta?:
Head Athletic Therapist for Female Team Alberta program.

Do you have other roles with Hockey Alberta?:
Regional player safety liaison in Calgary and Mentor Therapist for Alberta Challenge and Prospects Cup.

Why did you get involved with Hockey Alberta?:
Originally I saw it as an opportunity to grow my career in hockey, network within the hockey world in Alberta. I continue to come back because as much as it’s still about growth and networking, I get to give back to my profession, meet incredible people, travel all over the country and watch the athletes grow into incredible young people.

What does it mean to you to be a woman in sports?:
Being a woman in sports for me has always been lonely. For a lot of my career, I was the only female on staff. Now, it’s become an empowering space where I can be exactly who I want to be while being surrounded by incredibly strong, talented and inspiring women. For me, it means fostering change from within, and helping to carve a path for the generation behind while continuing give thanks to the generation in front.

Home Ice Feature

Breaking The Colour Barrier – John Utendale

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

In July 2023, John Utendale was inducted into the Alberta Hockey Hall of Fame, in recognition of his contributions to breaking the colour barrier in professional hockey.

In December, the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame announced that Utendale would be recognized further as a member of the ASHOF’s 2024 Induction Class. The induction ceremony is scheduled for Friday, May 24.

We became aware of John Utendale and his accomplishments because in the middle of the pandemic in February 2021, we were looking for some Alberta-based hockey stories for Black History Month.

During a general online search, and one of the items that came up in the search was a Facebook post the previous year from the Provincial Archives of Alberta pointing out that the first Black hockey player to sign an NHL contract was John Utendale of Edmonton with the Detroit Red Wings in 1955.

Some online research. We found an obituary published in the Edmonton Journal after John’s death in 2006. Not only had John been a trailblazer as a hockey player, but his leadership continued in post-secondary education after moving to Washington State.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t a lot of information available more than 50 years after John’s playing days. Some statistical information, a few photos and short stories, but overall not a lot of detail about the man who could have been the first Black player to play in the NHL. We pieced together a basic biographical story from what we could find, and Hockey Alberta and Hockey Canada posted it on their websites on February 3, 2021 for Black History Month.

It was an opportunity to share an interesting story that more people needed to know and it was a pretty good story to start off Black History Month.

Then things started to happen.

Someone shared the link with Mickey, John’s wife, who contacted Hockey Canada, who put her in contact with Hockey Alberta. A few emails were exchanged, and the process got started to put together a nomination package for John for the AHHF.

The University of British Columbia reached out for more details and did a story on their website because John had studied at UBC.

UBC Story >

KIRO 7 News in Washington reached out in October 2021, and did a story on John’s life and career leading into the home opener that year for the Seattle Kraken.

KIRO 7 Video Story >

The Kraken honoured John in February 2022 for Black History Month, including an in-game video tribute.

Seattle Times Feature >

Seattle Kraken Tribute Video >

In February 2023, there was another tribute evening for John Utendale – this time by the Edmonton Oilers. They were hosting the Detroit Red Wings, the NHL team John had signed with, in the city where John was born.

Finally, on July 23, 2023, the long-awaited AHHF Gala occurred in Canmore. It was an evening of learning a bit about life in the 1950s in hockey, and the family, and even how John and Mickey met (he was originally going out with her sister).

It was also really neat to be reminded of just how connected we are, and how small the world really is – even multiple decades later. Folks like Bobby Olynyk (a fellow inductee that evening) and Terry Ledingham (an inductee in 2016) came up to Robb Utendale (John’s son) to talk about having seen John play for the Oil Kings and the Flyers in the 1950s.

Now, it’s only a few more months until the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame induction evening on May 24. Hopefully there will more stories connecting folks in the room that evening with John’s accomplishments and recollections six or seven decades prior.

Home Ice Feature

Black History Month - Calgary Fire’s Davina Davis making her mark on the hockey world

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

RED DEER – Davina Davis has grown up around the game of hockey.

When Davis was younger, her father would take her to see the female hockey game at her local rink. It was soon engrained in her DNA that she was going to be just like those girls.

“The girls were U14 and U18 … they were so impressive to me that I wanted to be like them when I grew up,” Davis said. “When I turned six, my mom enrolled me in an all-girls Learn to Play program with our local female hockey club, thinking it would be a fun introduction into hockey and to see if I would like it. Little did she know it would become a passion and help guide me to where I am today.”

Her career took off. She suited up for South White at Alberta Challenge last year and was named co-MVP of the AFHL’s U15 AA division, tallying more than a goal per game and finishing with 39 points in 26 games. She helped Calgary Fire Red win the provincial title.

“I was delighted,” Davis said of the achievement. “It was an honour to be chosen as co-MVP as there are so many talented players in the league. But I think the bigger accomplishment was winning provincials. Our team played well together all season and it was nice to see our hard work pay off.”

The 16-year-old forward is now in her first season playing in the U18 AAA division with the Calgary Fire.

“It’s been an adjustment. Players are bigger, faster, and stronger,” she said. “It forces you to know what you’re going to do before you get the puck, and you always must be aware of what’s happening both on offense and defense. The older players on my team have been great role models for showing me what it takes to play at this level.”

Davis comes from a multiethnic background, as her dad is half black and half white, while her mom comes from Sri Lanka. Davis is very proud of her heritage and says that she’s had a very positive hockey experience thus far.

“I haven’t been treated differently from others because of my racial heritage,” Davis said. “The teams I’ve been on have been positive and encouraging environments to play and train in. I think so far I have been defined by my hockey skills more than my race.”

Davis wants to follow in the footsteps of her idols Connor McDavid, Taylor Heise and Sarah Fillier and play professional hockey when she’s older.

Collegiate hockey is absolutely an aspiration of mine, along with playing professionally, especially since the PWHL has made it a reality for young women,” Davis said. “If I ever advance far enough to possibly be a role model for younger hockey players, I hope it would be for anyone regardless of background.”

Home Ice Feature

Hockey Gives Back this Holiday season

Throughout 2023, teams from across the province have committed good deeds in their communities. This Holiday season, Hockey Alberta is featuring some of those teams who have given back this past year.


The Cougars collected donations for the Calgary Food Bank.


The U11 Cougars worked together to sign and decorate nearly 200 Christmas cards for every resident at the AgeCare Midnapore. The team then visited the residents to deliver the cards, help with bingo and run the treat trolly.


The Sabres U15 squad filled a hockey bag with non-perishable food items for the food bank.


The Vikings noticed a need for winter clothing and food at the local Family and Community Support Services in Camrose so the team challenged all the other Camrose Minor Hockey teams to see who could gather the most items for donation. Together they gathered over 600 winter jackets, two large boxes of toques, mitts, scarves and snow pants and over 30 boxes of food.


The U11 Northstars gave back to their community by visiting the residents in long-term care at the hospital and handing out treats and decorating cookies with the residents.


The U15 Royals White adopted a family through the North East Calgary Adopt a Family Society and collected over 100 items of presents for a family to have on Christmas morning.


The U7 Flames and SAHA U18 Prep Team joined forces and held a food drive for the Medicine Hat Root Cellar. The Two teams combined to donate over 300 pounds of food and other goods.


The Ramblers went shopping and purchased items for a large food hamper for their own Christmas hamper program called Heart2U.


The team collected new toys and books to support kids and families staying at the Alberta Children’s Hospital.


All U11 Chiefs teams held food drives over the course of November. The teams then spent an evening at the Red Deer Food Bank preparing food hampers, sorting donations and stocking shelves.


The U11 Rangers collected toys and non perishable food items for other kids their age who are need over the Holidays.


The U13 RMAA Renegades held a food drive in the town of Carstairs and delivered it to the local food bank. The team collected nearly 1,000 pounds of food for people in need this Holiday season.


The U7 Leafs donated Christmas gifts to the Made by Momma organization.


Three Central Alberta Selects teams partnered up to start their own ’Cold Stoppers’ campaign in support of the Street Ties Youth Outreach program through Vantage Community Services.


The U15 AA Lethbridge Hurricanes and Taber Golden Suns teamed up to host a food drive during their most recent meeting in order to support the Interfaith Food Bank. The following day Hurricane players and coaches delivered 353 pounds of food and helped make up over 600 care packages for the Holiday season.


The Female U18 Sutter Fund Chiefs took a night and went to visit the residents of Crimson Villas. The team brought Christmas treats and had a draw for one of the team’s shirts.


The U15 Okotoks Oilers and Chestermere Lakers came together to raise funds for the food bank.


The U9 Southwest Cougars Blue gave back to their community by bringing donations to the Calgary Children’s Cottage Society.


The Cougars collected non-perishable food items for the food bank. They also collected bottles for their bottle drive.


The U9 to U18 Fort Saskatchewan Fury teams collectively came together to collect 470 pounds of food for the Fort Saskatchewan food bank.


The U11 Rangers made Christmas cards for the residents at Turner Lodge in Fort Saskatchewan.


The Chiefs visited the Crimson Villas Seniors Complex to play Bingo with the residents.


The Cougars collaborated with the Senior Secret Service Program to adopt a senior for their team. The goal of the service is to enhance the quality of life for individuals 60 or older who are alone in the community.


The Chiefs and Oilers put their on-ice rivalry aside to come together for a good cause. The two U15 teams partnered up to gather food donations for the Red Deer Food Bank.


The Sting, who are based out of Morinville made sure to go the extra mile this past month, decorating their cars with Christmas lights and decorations to give the seniors in their community their very own Christmas parade after the seniors were forced to miss the town’s festivities due to sickness.


The Clippers hosted a tournament this year where the teams participating were tasked to fill bins in their dressing rooms for their Santa’s anonymous challenge, collecting toys to donate to children.


The U11 Bruins hosted a Holiday donation drive in support of the Calgary Drop in Centre as well as Inn from the Cold. They collected toiletries, mittens, hats, socks and more, bringing over 1300 items to donate to those charities.


The Canucks will give back by having their players create art pieces as a way to bring positivity and cheer to those in need of a smile.

To share how your team or association is giving back this season, complete the following form:


For any questions or to send pictures, please contact Troy Durrell, Coordinator, Content Generation.

Home Ice Feature

Image: Hockey Alberta logo in black and white and red poppy

Alberta’s Minor Hockey Associations paying their respects for Remembrance Day

RED DEER – More than 40 tournaments are scheduled across Alberta this weekend, and hosts are ensuring participants have the opportunity to pay their respects on Remembrance Day, and throughout the weekend.

Many tournament hosts are ensuring that poppy stickers are placed on each player’s helmet for the duration of the tournament as well as a moment of silence taking place at 11 am on Saturday, November 11.

Olds Minor Hockey is hosting its U13 Ice Showdown Tournament, and the organizing committee is collaborating with the local Royal Canadian Legion as part of the commitment to honouring the veterans.

“In support of the Legion’s cause, poppy sales are being facilitated on their behalf. A poignant tribute is planned for November 11th, where a moment of silence will be observed across all ice surfaces, accompanied by the solemn notes of the Last Post,” said Heather Boone, Olds Minor Hockey U13 Coordinator. “Additionally, special recognition of the veterans is included in our programs, which will be distributed to more than 190 players and their families, emphasizing the significance of remembrance and gratitude for the sacrifices made. This commemorative event stands as a heartfelt tribute to our Canadian veterans, honouring their courage, sacrifices, and unwavering commitment to our country.”

Strathmore Minor Hockey is also hosting a U13 tournament with games in Strathmore, Standard and Gleichen.

“We are lucky to have the support of the Strathmore Legion, who graciously donated over 400 poppy stickers for each player to wear on their helmets through the tournament and beyond,” said Kendra Milne, tournament coordinator for Strathmore Minor Hockey Association Tournament Coordinator.

In addition to the poppy stickers and a moment of silence, the U13 Indus Hurricanes are going the extra mile to honour the veterans.

“We’re holding a Veterans food bank challenge,” said Jayme McHattie, Manager of the U13 club. “The team that brings the most items of food will win a prize for the team.”

Tournaments in Millet and High Country will have poems read once their moment of silence concludes. In High Country, there will be a bagpiper performing a traditional song.

In Taber, in addition to honouring Remembrance Day, teams will partake in a Memorial tournament for Rowan Beckie, a U13 player who passed away in February.

“We are having a moment of silence after the Act of Remembrance is read for Remembrance Day,” said Melanie Jespersen, Taber tournament organizer. “We want to show our respect for our veterans and all they have done for our country. We are balancing that with honouring our lost teammate and friend. So we have two very focuses and we will do our best to honour them both.”

In honour of Remembrance Day, please check out previous stories:

Honouring the Human Behind the Uniform

Lest We Forget

Home Ice Feature

Image: Team Alberta Goaltender Ryley Budd stands with his Heroes Hockey cheque.

Everyone needs a Budd

Ryley Budd was selected as Hockey Alberta’s 2023 Player of the Year presented by ATB.

During the 2022-23 season, the 15 year old from Calgary struck a deal with EnerCorp. For every save he made through the regular season, $1 would be donated to charity and an extra $10 for every shutout.

After posting 686 saves and two shutouts for the Calgary Northstars, Budd raised $700 for HEROS Hockey. The funds were used to send a young HEROS’ goalie to Ontario for his first tournament.

When EnerCorp learned more about HEROS Hockey and what the donation was being used for, they increased the donation to $5,000. This contributed to sending the whole team to the tournament.

As Budd looks to the next season, he hopes to continue the initiative to help get more kids on the ice through HEROS Hockey.

HEROS Hockey provides free hockey programming for at-risk children and youth. The organization uses the game to teach life-skills that individuals can use beyond the rink. The Hockey Alberta Foundation is a proud supporter of HEROS Hockey.

Home Ice Feature

Hockey Alberta: Family helping families

It doesn’t take long to find a family that has been impacted by Ronald McDonald House Charities Alberta (RMH). The Hockey Alberta family is no different.

RMH supports families seeking vital medical treatment for their seriously sick or injured child. During some of the most difficult times a family can face, the Houses are there to support with a home-away-from-home.

Grow the Game Coordinator, Cassie Campbell, had family stay in RMH while she was going through a complicated labour and delivery with her second child.

“RMH was an amazing second home for my family,” said Cassie Campbell, Hockey Alberta’s Grow the Game Coordinator. “It meant I could focus on taking care of myself and the baby and not worry about my husband, knowing that he could rest and refuel to be there in a moment’s notice. We are both so grateful for the staff and volunteers at RMH. Our time there was short but the impact of their support is unforgettable.”

RMH is equipped with private family suites, a recreation room with a fitness area and games room and open kitchens.

For some families, their stay can last a few nights, while for others, it can last a few months. Situated close to the hospital, the Houses save families millions of dollars on transportation, meals, laundry, parking and more, each year.

Hockey Alberta’s Member Services Coordinator, Stacey Pattison, grew up hours away from a children’s hospital. So when she was diagnosed with meningococcemia septicemia as at nine years-old, to have her family near meant the world.

“Being from a small town, the local hospital didn’t have the resources, so I was transported to a hospital over an hour away from home,” said Pattison. “I’m very foturnate that my mom was able to stay with me the whole time. She used the RMH and was able to be with me the whole time, she could make medical decisions and never missed a doctors drop-in while I was in the hospital.”

Knowing the severity of the illness now, Pattison is thankful to the RMH for allowing her family to be there and help focus on getting her healthy.

“Now as a parent, I understand how families will always make it work to be there for their children, and the opportunity provided by RMH to assist families to reduce the stress in providing accommodations,” said Pattison. “Home cooked meals provides more than that, it allows parents to be 100 per cent available for their children who so desperately need their parents full care and attention to focus on healing.”

After spending their day at the hospital, the last thing families want to do is cook. That’s why the Hockey Alberta staff have committed to the “Home for Dinner” volunteer program offered by RMH.

Home for Dinner is a program that allows volunteer groups to purchase groceries and come into the house to provide dinner for families.

“Most of the Hockey Alberta staff live in Central Alberta, and I feel it is important to give back to the communities where we live,” said Darcy Smith, Hockey Alberta’s Member Development Coordinator. “The heart of our organization is kids, if we can make some of the tough days easier for these families and by cooking homemade meals, then hopefully we have brighten someone’s day just a little.”

Often, those who are utilizing RMH, are part of the hockey family, and for some members of the staff, the initiative hits close to home.

During National Volunteer Week, it’s important to take the time to acknowledge the volunteers that make hockey great across Alberta. However the hockey community is full of volunteers who make an impact bigger than the game. For the Hockey Alberta staff, volunteering at the RMH is just one way we can support those who support us.

To volunteer with the Ronald McDonald House Charities Alberta, click here.

Home Ice Feature

National Volunteer Week: Ben Woodlock

Volunteers are all ages and sizes.

Take, for example, Ben Woodlock.

Ben is a 14-year-old apprentice coach with the Alberta Elite Hockey League’s U15 AAA St. Albert Gregg Distributors Sabres.

“Ben kind of brought our whole family back into hockey,” said his father, Pat. “When we moved into our neighborhood, there was an ongoing street hockey game. He grew up looking at that and had a hockey stick in his hands in his early years.”

By the age of five, Ben was ready to hit the ice, but his parents were more uncertain.

“Given Ben’s medical history, we weren’t sure if he should or could play,” said Pat. “We talked to his team of medical specialists and they felt that the overall benefit (of playing hockey) outweighed the risk.”

At 14, Ben has already undergone two kidney transplants – first, when he was a year and a half and his second at age 11. For a large part of his life, he in the hospital three or four times a week receiving dialysis and treatments.

While going through treatment, Ben would pass the time on his iPad, watching NHL highlights, studying different plays, researching statistics and doing quizzes about hockey.

“I had watched all the shows so I decided to look up hockey stats and it went from there,” said Ben. “If I’m ever having a bad day, I can rely on hockey.”

The way Ben thinks and understands the game is beyond how most hockey fans see it. But standing at approximately 4’10”, a combination of his size and medical history left Ben uncertain about his playing future. After five years, he said he lost his love for playing the game.

His parents saw Ben still had passion for the game and recommended officiating. Knowing the game, this was an easy transition for Ben, but he still had more to give.

In August, the Sabres head coach, Geoff Giacobbo heard Ben’s story. He didn’t think twice about approaching Ben about whether he would be interested in an apprentice coaching role.

“As a coach, it’s a win-win,” said Giacobbo. “Our team gets a better understanding of how fortunate we are to do what we love every day. They get to see what a difference kindness can make for someone and for Ben, he gets to be a part of a team and the sport he loves.”

Ben’s role with the team looked like any other coach. He participated in team activities, helped at practice, recorded game videos, counted team and individual stats and sometimes he’d just watch to take it all in.

“Ben’s a lot happier overall and this (new role) has given him a lot of confidence,” said Pat. “The whole thing with hockey is that it teaches you life skills. As parents, it’s at the forefront for us that our kids are learning life lessons that go beyond whether you win or lose a particular game. I’ve found that experience has been front and centre with Ben in his new role.”

The ice has barely thawed for this season and Ben is already looking ahead to next year. With a goal of one day getting into scouting, or working as a player agent, he’s using his role to gain the experience to make his dreams come true.

“In May, we have a selection camp that I’ll be part of, it’s pretty exciting because it’s like scouting,” said Ben. “I’ll be more experienced and know the team so I’m already looking forward to what’s coming up.”

Home Ice Feature

You belong, Maltreatment does not

In January, the U18 Hinton Havoc travelled to a nearby community to play a regular season game. It was just another hockey game in another rural Alberta community.

For Hinton, it wasn’t just another hockey game though.

As the game went on, racial slurs echoed in the arena. At first, the Hinton Havoc’s manager, Charity Lawrence wasn’t sure what she heard. When she saw the mother of an Indigenous player with tears streaming down her face, she knew she heard correctly.

“I’m embarrassed to admit that this was my first experience with racism,” said Lawrence. “I did not know what to do. I was so angry, so emotional.”

The taunts and slurs were coming from a group of local young men. Lawrence confronted them, and when they denied it, she called the local minor hockey association.

After the game she spoke to the player and his mother who told Lawrence that this wasn’t the first time they had experienced this behaviour. As a team manager of seven years, she couldn’t believe that she did not know this was happening on her own team.

“I told this player and his mother that he never has to put up with things like this, it’s not okay,” said Lawrence. “His mother replied, ‘sometimes you just get tired of the same fight.’”

Lawrence responded with the will to fight for them and with them.

“The events of that day kept me awake at night,” said Lawrence. “I demanded the boys in the stands be identified and their parents contacted. I wanted them banned from future games we would play there and punished for what they did. But I didn’t feel like that was enough.”

It was only days later when Hockey Alberta’s Maltreatment Awareness contest came across Lawrence’s social media feed. The contest, in partnership with the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation (EOCF), was developed to bring awareness to Maltreatment happening in the game.

“It could not have come at a better time,” said Lawrence. “This contest was another opportunity for us as a team to show our support for not only this family, but for every family who has ever been treated so horribly in minor hockey.”

The contest encouraged pictures to be taken with the posters and banners that were distributed across facilities in Alberta. Lawrence took it a step further by creating posters for the team to sport during practice and submitted a photo.

The effort and creativity caught the eye of the selection committee. Selected as the winners, the Hinton Havoc were awarded tickets to the Sportsnet Lounge at Rogers Place for the Oilers’ February 21 match-up against the Philadelphia Flyers.

It wasn’t until after they were selected that Hockey Alberta was made aware of how close to the heart this contest was for the team. After learning of Hinton’s experience, the EOCF invited the team to spend the day at Rogers Place. Together the team took in the Oilers and Flyers morning skate, toured the Oilers Hall of Fame, and met alumni, Kevin Lowe. Flyers forward, Kevin Hayes, even gave his stick to one of the boys.

“This event sparked conversations with families and the team,” said Lawrence. “I appreciate this opportunity given to us by Hockey Alberta and the EOCF, not just to go to the Oilers game, but to show this young man and his family how much we care.”

Maltreatment does not belong in the game of hockey. Hockey Alberta wants to create an environment that welcomes everyone. If you or someone you know experiences or witnesses Maltreatment, please report it. Hockey Alberta is committed to ensuring an investigation of all reports of Maltreatment, Bullying or Harassment involving participants takes place. To learn more about Maltreatment and how you can report it, visit

If your facility or Minor Hockey Association is interested in the Maltreatment posters or banners, please contact Darcy Smith, [email protected].

Home Ice Feature

International Women’s Day

RED DEER – International Women’s Day is March 8. This year, Hockey Alberta is taking the time to celebrate and recognize the female staff and volunteers who dedicate their time to making our game great!

International Women’s Day is a global day to recognize the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.

Celebrated annually, the day serves to celebrate women’s achievements, educate and raise awareness for women’s equality, call for positive change advancing women and lobby for accelerated gender parity.

Hundreds of women have created a space in the game for themselves as players, coaches, officials, executives and volunteers at all levels. In the Hockey Alberta realm, 52 women have carved a path as staff members or volunteer committee members.

In addition, each year there are dozens of women volunteering annually as executive members on Regional Officials committees, and as coaches, trainers and therapists, and directors of operations for events such as the Alberta Challenge and the Summer Showcase, and Team Alberta programming.

Today, Hockey Alberta is recognizing all of the women who are involved with Hockey Alberta, and celebrating all women who across the province who work within the sport and who continue to inspire.

Hockey Alberta Staff

Cassie Campbell, Morgen Kidney, Danielle Kraichy, Kendall Newell, Holly McDavid, Katrina Papke, Stacey Pattison, Ellery Platts, Michelle Skilnick, Darcy Smith, Kara Spady and Danielle Wheeler.

Hockey Alberta Board of Directors

Kirstan Jewell, Karen Lee, Danielle Paradis

Hockey Alberta Foundation Board of Directors

Lisa Vlooswyk

Life Member

Annie Orton

Posthumous Life Member

Anne Hayden

Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee

Taryn Barry, Lauren Dormer, Zahra Nurani and Alicia Souveny

Administration Committee

Amber Boman, Pam Douglas, Janet Fairless, Jennifer Foster, Seema King, Dawn Lemaistre, Lin Lumye and Diane Ziemer.

Appeals Committee

Debbie Northcott

Club Team Administrator

Lisa Davies

Elite Female Committee

Lise Cote and Stacey Keyowski

Female Officials Development Coordinator

Ricki Lee Brown

Maltreatment Committee

Renee Cook, Shelina Rawji and Jamie Williamson

Member Liaison

Chantel Timmons

Minor Discipline Committee

Sharlene Cook, Michelle Malbeuf and Robin Latajka

Minor Female Committee

Julie Feragen, Nicole Halvorson and Dana Henfrey

Para Hockey Committee

Tara Chisholm, Janice Coulter, Desiree Desrochers-Pegueno, Brooke Martens, Katrina Maximuchuk, Jen Sales and Sharon Veeneman

Home Ice Feature

Black History Month - The Story of John Utendale

On February 26, 2020, the Provincial Archives of Alberta published a Facebook post that asked the following question:

“Did you know that Edmonton-born John Utendale; was the first Black hockey player to sign a contract with the NHL?”

That National Hockey League contract was signed with the Detroit Red Wings in 1955, three years before Willie O’Ree broke the NHL’s colour barrier in 1958 with the Boston Bruins. Utendale attended three or four camps with the Wings, skating with the likes of Gordie Howe, Alex Delvecchio and Red Kelly.

Utendale never played for the Red Wings, instead seeing action with Wings’ farm team, the Edmonton Flyers.

But O’Ree has been quoted, including in a 2018 article in The Undefeated, that it could easily have been Utendale, or O’Ree’s Boston teammate Stan Maxwell, or Herb Carnegie or Art Dorrington who could have the NHL’s first black player.

Hockey Alberta News

According to an Edmonton Journal article in 2006, as a youth and teenager, Utendale played on the outdoor city rinks in Edmonton while playing peewee, bantam and midget hockey. His post-minor hockey career started with the Edmonton Oil Kings, prior to his historic signing with the Red Wings. After that, he played three seasons with the Flyers, followed by a couple of seasons where he moved east, playing for teams such as the Windsor Bulldogs and North Bay Trappers (Ontario Senior league), Quebec Aces (Quebec Hockey League), and Sudbury Wolves (Eastern Professional Hockey League).

In his 1958-59 part-season (five games) with the Aces, Utendale would be joined by O’Ree and Maxwell, where they played together on “The Black Line.” And it is believed Utendale was only the fourth black player to play Senior A hockey in Ontario, joining Herb and Ossie Carnegie and Manny McIntyre

He eventually returned to western Canada, getting married to Maryan “Mickey” Maddison Leonard in 1959, and starting his university education. Utendale earned his teaching certificate from the University of British Columbia in 1961, and then enrolled at the University of Alberta, earning his Bachelor of Education degree in two years. He worked for three years at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT), when that school was being established in the mid-1960s, becoming the school’s first Director of Physical Education and coaching the men’s hockey team (1966-67).

Throughout the 1960s, until his on-ice career ended in 1969, Utendale was still playing, including stints with the Ponoka Stampeders, Edmonton Nuggets and Edmonton Monarchs, along with the Spokane Jets (Western International Hockey League).

John Utendale

Had his story ended here, Utendale would already have established himself as a significant figure in the history of the sport of hockey.

But a sentence included in his obituary, published in the Edmonton Journal following his death in 2006, illustrates that hockey really was a lifelong passion for Utendale:

“John’s career was a story of diversity from professional hockey player to professor.”

With the conclusion of his playing career in 1969, Utendale’s focus shifted to what would be a long and influential career in post-secondary education.

He earned his Master’s degree at Eastern Washington State College, and was hired at Washington State University. During his three years at WSU he was academic coordinator for the athletic department, a member of the Washington State Human Rights commission, taught a course in the black studies department and coached little league baseball, all while earning his Doctorate in Education.

Dr. Utendale then joined Western Washington State College (now University), becoming the first black faculty member of the Woodring College of Education. For a quarter century, he headed the Student Personnel Administration graduate program, dramatically increasing the number of minority students at the school. Utendale was nationally recognized for his academic work, and moved into full professorship, becoming one of the few minor faculty members with tenure. He also held numerous positions in the Washington state community, including leading the Higher Education Administration.

But hockey always played a significant role in Utendale’s life. During his time as an educator, he was involved in hockey at the local, post-secondary and regional levels in Washington State. He helped found the Bellingham Area Minor Hockey Association and the city’s junior team (which he also coached), coached the Western Washington University Vikings team, and served as Western Regional Director for the Amateur Hockey Association of the U.S.

He was also an assistant training coach with the U.S. Olympic team in 1980, becoming the first black member of the coaching staff of the men’s hockey team. That team won gold at the “Miracle on Ice” Lake Placid Olympics.

John Utendale was born in Edmonton in 1937. He retired from Western Washington University in 2001, and he died in Bellingham, Washington in 2006.

Home Ice Feature

Reflecting on Female Hockey Day

February 1 is National Women and Girls in Sport day.

To celebrate, Hockey Alberta is reflecting back on Female Hockey Day, presented by ATB.

Female Hockey Day is a Hockey Alberta initiative to celebrate the female game by bringing together players, coaches, officials, parents and supporters to learn, develop and grow.

“Female Hockey Day is about introducing new girls to the game and encouraging girls already in the game to experience different sides to the game,” said Morgen Kidney, Hockey Alberta’s Female Hockey Coordinator.

This year, Female Hockey Day was held on January 7 in Calgary. The 2023 event marked the sixth annual Female Hockey Day. Previous events were held in Grande Prairie, Lethbridge, Red Deer, and Lloydminster along with a virtual event in 2021.

Traditionally, the event features Try Hockey and Try Goaltending sessions, a local feature game and off-ice activities including female coach and female officials development sessions and parent sessions.

Hockey Alberta encourages all communities to participate in Female Hockey Day, with support grants available from the Hockey Alberta Foundation.

“Success is measured by the smiles on faces and fun had at the event and Female Hockey Day is successful every year,” said Kidney.

Look back on Female Hockey Day >

Home Ice Feature

Black Girl Hockey Club

Renee Hess was just a hockey fan in California when she noticed a lack of representation of Black women in the game. Wanting to create an inclusive and supportive space, the Black Girl Hockey Club (BGHC) was born.

“Renee noticed that when she went to games, she always felt really awkward and excluded, so she figured, why not make a club for Black women in hockey,” said Saroya Tinker, Executive Director of Black Girl Hockey Club Canada. “Renee has never played hockey, but a lot of girls that started out in Black Girl Hockey Club were just fans.”

Tinker got involved with the BGHC when she began volunteering on the scholarship committee. As a professional hockey player, Tinker saw an opportunity to raise money for the BGHC during the National Women’s Hockey League bubble in 2021.

“I set my goal at $5,000 and we ended up raising $32,000,” said Tinker. “We realized there was a lot of interest from Canadian companies. Obviously hockey’s huge in Canada and there was already a network of girls in the Greater Toronto Area, specifically. So we decided to broaden our network and move the BGHC across the border to Canada and implement our programming here.”

BGHC Canada offers a mentorship program for Black women between the ages of 8 and 21, financial aid and scholarships for Black women of all ages to play, mental health and wellness resources, including subsidized therapy and focus groups and partners with NHL teams and community initiatives to create accessible, diverse and welcoming events across the country.

“We want girls of all ages to play. A Black Grandma who wants to learn how to play hockey or two years old and need your first pair of skates,” said Tinker. “I think that’s really what we’re aiming to do is create that sense of community and realize that Black women do play hockey and we’re just trying to normalize it.”

Tinker began playing hockey as a kid. Her dad, a Black man who faced his own challenges in the game, had a passion for the sport. After introducing Tinker to the game, she fell in love with the freedom of being on the ice.

“Over the course of my career, I kind of always felt like I had to take a piece of my Blackness out to fit in in the arena and those settings,” said Tinker. “The experiences that I’ve had led me to what I’m doing today and that’s my purpose - to make sure these girls have a community.”

One of the first experiences of overt racism Tinker can remember happened when she was 12 when a teammate called her racial slurs in the dressing room.

“I didn’t know how to react. I remember talking to my Dad and he explained that I’m going to have more experiences like that,” said Tinker. “Now I’m trying to make sure that their (Black girls currently playing hockey) experience is better than mine and make sure that they have a piece of representation to look at.”

Today, Tinker plays defence for the Toronto Six in the Premier Hockey Federation.

“I’m still playing, but the girls are my purpose for playing. I get to do this for them, while I’m still opening those doors, that’s what I’m here to do,” said Tinker. “I’m happy that we were able to bring the Black Girl Hockey Club to Canada and be all over North America now.”

Though Tinker is based in Ontario, she has meetings with girls from across the continent via Zoom. When she’s able, she schedules in-person meet-ups with members of BGHC Canada.

“It’s so easy to connect with people now-a-days. It’s exciting to see that we’re all across Canada. When I’m in Alberta, I always want to make sure to meet the girls,” said Tinker. “I know I’ve met a few girls in Alberta, I have a few more to meet, but it’s really exciting when we get to meet each other in person and it make it that much more special.”

For now, BGHC Canada’s main source of communication is online. BGHC Canada is on Instagram, Twitter and has an option to contact the club on their website. Tinker encourages all Black women to connect with the club and become part of the community.

“We’re such a growing community. I see new Black girls in the arena every day. In that sense we’re ‘adding to the club,’” said Tinker. “These girls are creating friendships and networking connections that are going to last a lifetime.”

BGHC Canada is welcoming of all communities. Allies of BGHC Canada are invited to attend community events or to reach out to BGHC Canada to learn how to support the club.

The first of February is National Women and Girls in Sports Day and marks the beginning of Black History Month. Listen to the Centre Ice Podcast to hear the full conversation with Saroya Tinker, available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts and Podbean.

Home Ice Feature

Hockey Gives Back

Throughout 2022, the hockey community has rallied together. This holiday season, teams from across the province have committed good deeds in their communities. Hockey Alberta is featuring some of those teams who have given back this season.

Red Deer U15 AAA Rebels

Red Deer U15 AAA Rebels held a food drive at their game on November 26 against the Calgary Northstars, generating an impressive food donation to the Red Deer Food Bank and a $265 cash donation.

Hockey Alberta News

Red Deer U13 A APLS Chiefs

The Red Deer Minor Hockey U13 A APLS Chiefs collected and assembled over 50 hygiene kits for at-risk youth. Items were donated by organizations in the Red Deer area and are being donated to the Red Deer High Risk Youth Coalition. Kits include soap, towels, dental health, deodorant and a card filled out by each player with a message of kindness, hope and inspiration.

Lacombe Minor Hockey Association

Lacombe MInor Hockey Association has launched the "Rockets Give Back" program, in partnership with the Broom Tree, an organization that focuses on serving women in Central Alberta facing a variety of challenges. U5 - U18 teams can choose a way to give back to the Broom Tree through donating for their Blessing Bags, the Noel Family Project, purchases in their cafe, volunteering, donating money or goods. Launching on November 15, the Rockets Give Back has raised the equivalent to $1,200 so far.

NE401 Crush

Hockey Edmonton’s NE401 Crush has dedicated their time to giving back this season. The U11 HADP team has collected food to donate to the Veterans Food Bank in Edmonton, where they met veterans and heard their stories. They stocked shelves and created family hampers for families in need. On December 28, the team will be volunteering at the Junior C Tyler Palmowski Memorial Game to help raise money for DIPG research.

Hockey Alberta News

St. Albert Sting

The St. Albert U15 A Sting have filled six boxes for children in need for Operation Christmas Child. Each box is filled with love in hopes to make a child smile this holiday season.

Junior Oilers U18 AAA

The Junior Oilers are supported the fourth annual Ty’s Toy Drive. When the Junior Oilers Orange faced off against the Junior Oilers Blue on November 30, the AEHL U18 AAA teams collected two overflowing boxes of toys and a $280 cash donation for the drive.

Calgary Buffaloes U17 AAA Bulls

On December 11, the Calgary Buffaloes U17 AAA Bulls will be hosting the Veterans Food Bank Drive and Teddy Bear Toss in support of the Women’s Centre at the Cardel Rec Centre.

Calgary Buffaloes U15 AA Hawks

The Calgary Buffaloes U15 AA Hawks volunteered with the Magic of Christmas on December 8. The Magic of Christmas collects donations to gift presents to families in need throughout Calgary. A list of families was given to the Hawks and they selected gifts for each member of the family to open on Christmas.

Hockey Alberta News

Knights of Columbus U16 AA Spurs

Together with the Canadian Athletics Club, the Knights of Columbus U16 AA Spurs collected food and monetary donations for the Edmonton Food Bank. In total they filled five large boxes to drop off at the local fire hall.

Hockey Alberta News

U17 AAA AEHL Showcase

The U17 AAA Alberta Elite Hockey League Showcase collected food to donate to the local food bank.

Hockey Alberta News

Red Deer Cambridge Hotel U11 A Chiefs

The Red Deer Cambridge Hotel Chiefs volunteered at the Red Deer and District Food Bank to build food boxes for families, loaded pallets and sorted inventory. Combined, thee team donated 270 lbs of food as well.

Hockey Alberta News

Simons Valley Hockey Association U7 Junior Team 2 White

Simons Valley Hockey Association U7 Junior Team 2 White spread cheer to their local senior community centre by creating 95 cards for each senior!

Hockey Alberta News

U11 SU403 Sturgeon Mustangs

The U11 SU403 Sturgeon Mustangs conducted a "friends and family" equipment drive as part of their community initiative. Players worked for almost a month collecting and donating as much equipment as they could find in the Morinville, Legal and surrounding areas. The equipment they collected was donated to Sport Central to help kids less fortunate get into sport!

Hockey Alberta News

Calgary U13 AA Northstars Green

In support of the Calgary Drop-in Centre’s Fill a Sock program, the Calgary U13 AA Northstars Green collected donations of various basic needs items. In total, the team stuffed 20 socks filled with soap, razors, shampoo, gloves and toques to donate to those in need in Calgary.

Hockey Alberta News

Red Deer Motors U13 A+ & U18 AA Elks

The Red Deer Motors U13 A+ and U18 AA Elks have teamed up to spread Christmas cheer around Red Deer by visiting over 200 homes to deliver Christmas cards and collect donations for the Red Deer Food Bank. The players were able to fill an entire truck box with donated food items.

Hockey Alberta News

NWCAA U18 AA Bruins

The NWCAA U18 AA Bruins have dedicated their time to giving back off the ice this season. In October, they partnered with Street Sisters Society, an organization that helps vulnerable women and girls in need, to make lunches. In early December, the team supported the Airdrie Lightning U18 AA team in their food drive and provided a donation to support Ryan Couling’s family, a Lightning alumni who lost his battle with cancer. Most recently, the team joined forces with the Calgary Firefighters Toy Association to stuff goodie bags and wrap presents for kids in need. The Bruins are busy delivering a little holiday magic this year!

Hockey Alberta News

Elk Island U15 Wild

At their last game, Elk Island’s U15 Wild held a "Fill the Net" campaign. They invited all those attending to donate toys for children and toiletries for seniors for Christmas. They collected over 150 items and $150 in cash donations. All donations are going to be distributed throughout Lamont County.

Hockey Alberta News

Knights of Columbus U17 AAA Centennials

The U17 AAA Centennials are giving back this season by participating in community events. As a team, the Centennials volunteered at the St. Jerome Family Christmas Evening where they helped with Christmas crafts, serving snacks, snapping photos and selling raffle tickets. The following week, the spent the evening helping out at the Edmonton Food Bank.

Hockey Alberta News

Hockey Alberta Staff

Members of the Hockey Alberta staff spread some holiday cheer at the Ronald McDonald House in Red Deer by volunteering to cook dinner for the families staying there.

Hockey Alberta News

Barrhead U15-2 Bruins

The Barrhead U15-2 Bruins hosted a donation drive for the seniors at the Hillcrest Lodge. When they dropped off the donations, the team sang Christmas carols while the seniors ate supper.

Hockey Alberta News

Coaldale Cobras U13

The U13 Coaldale Cobras sponsored a family via the Coaldale Food Bank this holiday season. The players, coaches and families donated time and money and went on a shopping spree. Their good deed lead to a challenge, where they challenged the rest of Coaldale Minor Hockey to do the same.

Hockey Alberta News

U7/U9/U11 Coaldale Cobras

Accepting the challenge from the U13 Coaldale Cobras, the U7, U9 and U11 Coaldale Cobras each sponsored a family to ensure they had food and presents under the tree this year.

Hockey Alberta NewsHockey Alberta NewsHockey Alberta News

Coaldale U11 Cobras

In addition to sponsoring a family, the Coaldale U11 Cobras ran a food drive at their tournament in support of the local food bank!

Hockey Alberta News

U13 Knights 2 White

The U13 Knights 2 White organized a Skate-a-Thon and hot chocolate for their community. The players and their families raised over $1,800 towards Hockey Fights Cancer!

Hockey Alberta News

Warburg Sharks U9-1

With the frightful weather outside, the Warburg Sharks decided to give back to their small town by shovelling snow off sidewalks throughout the community and at the local seniors lodge.

Hockey Alberta News

To share how your team or association is giving back this season, complete the following form:


For any questions or to send pictures, please contact Kara Spady, Marketing and Communications Coordinator.

Home Ice Feature

Alberta roots, international wings

Carla MacLeod is Alberta built.

The three-time Olympian began playing her minor hockey in Spruce Grove. As a teenager, she moved to Calgary to play for the Oval X-treme in the Western Women’s Hockey League before committing to the University of Wisconsin.

MacLeod made her first appearance on the international stage with Canada’s National Women’s Under 22 Team in 2002. The five-foot, four-inch defender cracked the National Women’s Team roster in 2005, where she participated in her first of four IIHF World Championships. The team struck gold at the 2006 Olympic Games in Turin, Italy and again at the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver. Following the 2010 Olympics, MacLeod retired from playing with two Olympic gold medals, one World Championship gold medal and three silver medals.

Over the course of her playing career – whether it was with the national team or the Oval X-treme - the road always led her back to home in Calgary.

“I’m really fortunate to have grown up in Alberta and be a product of the Alberta built model,” said MacLeod. “I think the main reason I’ve always tried to give back to Hockey Alberta, even when I was still playing, was understanding that you want that impact and that opportunity for the next generation and the next group coming up.… We see these women at the Olympics or at the World stage, but really the starting point is the provincial branch and that’s something I’ve never forgotten.”

Following her playing days, MacLeod took the step behind the bench, coaching at every level over the past decade.

Her coaching career started as an assistant coach at Mount Royal University. In 2012, MacLeod made her international coaching debut as an assistant coach with Canada’s National Women’s Under-18 Team at the World Championships. That season, MacLeod became an assistant coach with the Japanese Women’s National Team.

For three seasons, MacLeod travelled back and forth to Japan, while balancing her position at Mount Royal and a job in banking. During her tenure, Japan qualified for their first Olympic Games since hosting the tournament in 1998. In 2014, MacLeod made her third appearance at the Olympic Games, her first as a coach.

“English was very limited in that situation, so everything was translated,” said MacLeod. “A small example, you call a timeout in the game and instead of having 30 seconds, you have 15 because everything has to be translated. The impact of language is profound but having said that, it’s also the privilege of coaching internationally.”

Following the 2014 Olympics, MacLeod returned to Calgary as head coach of the U18 Prep Team at the Edge School. She also availed herself of coaching opportunities offered by Hockey Alberta, including assistant coach with Team Alberta at the National Women’s Under-18 Championships in 2015 before taking over as head coach in 2016.

“Short-term competition in general is very unique, I think it’s one of the greatest pieces of sport because everything is expedited and your preparation is so critical in short-term,” said MacLeod. “As a coach, you’re trying to make sure 30 of you are in the right state, that you’re ready to go and everyone is comfortable and confident – and everyone needs something a little different to get there.”

MacLeod returned as Alberta’s bench boss at the 2019 Canada Winter Games. Under her direction, Alberta won its third-ever gold medal, the first since 2011.

“It was just a privilege to coach that group. All we wanted to do as a staff was to ensure that those girls had the best experience possible at that level. That’s not a result-based goal, that’s a process-based goal, ultimately for us the result took care of it as well,” said MacLeod.

In 2021, MacLeod took the next step in her career – head coach of the University of Calgary Dinos.

Then, a year later, she was offered a new challenge ahead of the Women’s World Championships – head coach of Czechia’s National Women’s Team. In recent years, Czechia had built a strong foundation, but it was up to MacLeod to get them to the next level. After nearly upsetting the United States at the 2022 Olympics, all eyes were on them at the World Championships.

“Anyone who watched the World Championships or the Olympic Games could see that there was momentum within the Czech Women’s Team. We did a lot from a coaching perspective to get to know the players as people,” said MacLeod. “We wanted to maintain and build on that foundation that had been laid but we knew that if we wanted to take that next step and push for a medal in the ‘A’ pool, we’d have to do some things differently. That was part of the growing process and it’s part of the journey.”

MacLeod found the next step with Czechia. With the first female coach in federation history, Czechia won their first-ever medal when they claimed bronze at the World Championships.

Through MacLeod’s Alberta roots, she is delivering the same level of game to the world.

Home Ice Feature

Coach education keeping former players in the game

RED DEER – Hockey Alberta’s mission statement reads: to create positive opportunities and experiences for all players.

Coaches play a significant role in ensuring that.

Team Alberta alumni and NHL prospect, Morgan Klimchuk, made the transition to coaching during the COVID-19 lockdown. Following back surgery, Klimchuk was unsure if he would ever play hockey at a competitive level again, but he knew he wanted to stay involved in the game.

“I love it. It’s a new challenge every day,” said Klimchuk. “It’s one thing to know certain aspects of the game, it’s a completely different thing to be able to communicate and teach those things.”

Having played for numerous coaches with a variety of styles over the years, Klimchuk was asked if there was anyone he looked up to as a coach.

“The last coach that I played for professionally with the Belleville Senators, his name is Troy Mann. He’s not necessarily a household name,” said Klimchuk. “He’s a coach and a person who is going to get an opportunity at the highest level just because of how he treats people, how he communicates with his players aside from his knowledge of the game … (T)he way he communicates his messages, the amount that he cares about every single member of his team really resonated with me and it’s something that I try to emulate as I get started in my coaching career.”

Duncan Milroy played professional hockey for 12 seasons, including five games with the Montreal Canadiens. When he retired from playing, he had lost his passion for hockey – until he made the decision to get into coaching.

“(Through coaching) I absolutely fell in love with being on the ice again,” said Milroy. “Being a mentor for kids and the competition that comes with it … so it’s been a lot of fun coming back and it’s a newfound passion for me.”

After years of playing, it was his novice coach who left a lasting impression on him.

“I had a gentleman by the name of Dan Auchenburg, who used to be my novice coach a long time ago. Just the way he conducted himself with us as kids, I remember those things,” said Milroy.

As a former player Milroy thought he knew everything when he began coaching. His mentality was less than realistic.

“Sometimes my expectations of what players were actually able to do at that age level and their skill level might not have been there because of my lack of experience as a coach,” said Milroy. “After my first couple years and spending time with Hockey Alberta, it’s really opened my eyes up to the coaching philosophies and what you have to be looking for. It has made me a better coach … it’s given me a more realistic approach and a better teaching philosophy in order to help my kids out.”

For Stephen Pattison, Hockey Alberta’s Manager of Hockey Development, coach education programs have enabled him to provide better experiences for his players.

“The longer I’ve coached and the more education courses I’ve taken, the more I have been able to impact the players in a positive way,” said Pattison. “I have players who I coached nearly 10 years ago who I still have a relationship with, because coaching is about building relationships. Coach education programs help coaches learn ways to communicate with their players and build those relationships.”

Certain coach education programs are required to be completed each season by November 15 to be eligible to coach. Courses include information on team building, player experience, how to communicate with parents, how to organize a season and tactics/drills. Programs are available to anyone who is looking to better understand the game or may be considering coaching.


For more information on coach education or how you can make a positive impact on the players experience, visit

Home Ice Feature

In a League of Her Own

RED DEER – Rachel Wiebe turned heads last year when she was named an assistant coach with the University of Alberta Golden Bears hockey team.

In her new role, the 23-year-old became the first female coach to join the program, continuing her progression in a coaching career that started when concussions ended her playing career as a teenager.

“I still wanted to be a part of the game,” said Rachel. “It’s a big part of who you are and I didn’t want to lose that, so I got into coaching. I started coaching on a women’s team in Grande Prairie and once I transferred to the University of Alberta for school I started coaching with the Pandas and then the Bears.”

As a player, Rachel’s goal was to play for the Pandas. When she realized she couldn’t participate as a player, she still wanted to achieve that goal in some capacity – even if that meant filling water bottles. She reached out to Howie Draper, Head Coach of the Pandas, who took her on as an assistant coach.

Ian Herbers, Head Coach of the Golden Bears, laughs as he recalls poaching Rachel from the Pandas.

“Rachel once a week, maybe every other week, would pop her head in and come say hi. We had a chance to talk and she always came in with a ton of energy, very positive, very passionate about the game and very passionate about the Bears’ program,” said Herbers. “In the summertime, we were looking and wanted to add one more person (to the coaching staff). I thought of Rachel right away just because of the passion she had.”

As the possibility of coaching with the Golden Bears began to become a reality, Rachel needed one more nod from a crucial group - the players.

“I wanted to make sure it was good with the guys first before I said yes,” said Rachel. “I wanted to make sure they were comfortable first and foremost (with a woman joining the coaching staff) because if they aren’t comfortable, I’m not going to serve a beneficial purpose.”

Herbers was confident it wouldn’t be an issue.

“I knew we had a great group of guys with the Bears and the leadership we had on the ice and in the dressing room that it wouldn’t be an issue,” said Herbers. “(T)hey were excited…. I don’t think many of them have had a female coach so it’s something different for them.”

With 11 of her 14 playing years spent as one of a few females on male teams, Rachel’s transition to the Golden Bears was seamless.

“The coaching staff has been really supportive, the players are really receptive to feedback, they’re very respectful,” said Rachel. “People always ask how the year’s gone, what it’s been like and if there are any challenges with it and other than winning a national championship, it couldn’t have been better. It was phenomenal and a great first year.”

Rachel’s passion for the Golden Bears program doesn’t fall far from the tree. Her father, Dan Wiebe, played in the program for four seasons (1987-1991). After a coaching stint in the East Coast Hockey League, Dan returned to Alberta where he has given back to the game in a minor coach and mentor capacity.

“Having the opportunity to play and then get into coaching … at a semi-professional league, I learned a lot about the game and really my knowledge of the game would come from the Golden Bear program,” said Dan, who admits to fatherly pride in seeing Rachel’s achievements. “Having seen (Rachel) have the opportunity with that tradition and that history, I can’t say enough about it…. Hopefully down the road she will have the opportunity to share that with other coaches and players and develop her own style and grow her game as well.”

Growing up, Dan coached Rachel through the minor ranks. Now as she begins her own coaching career, although her style has some of Dan’s influence, she’s starting to create her own style too, including working to complete her High Performance 1 coach certification.

“This is such an ideal situation. It’s great to bounce ideas off each other because it’s not just me going to him and asking for advice, now he comes to me too,” said Rachel.

For Herbers, Rachel has emerged as a key part of his coaching staff because she looks at the game from a different perspective.

“She’s always looking for something different than I am,” said Herbers. “I liked the way she thought the game, what she saw development wise …. I’m always looking for ways to challenge our players and our team to keep getting better and she’s done that for us.”


Hockey Alberta encourages everyone to take the time to recognize and thank a coach in their community this week for National Coaches Week. National Coaches Week runs from September 17-25, 2022.

Home Ice Feature

Passion for Para Ice Hockey

RED DEER – Para Ice Hockey in Canada got its start in Medicine Hat.

With that history, it is only natural that Medicine Hat native Tara Chisholm - who is the head coach of Canada’s Women’s National Para Ice Hockey Team - found her way to the sport.

“The original sled was brought over from Sweden. They asked a whole bunch of larger disability organizations … if they wanted to start sledge hockey,” said Chisholm, “Then a women called Jean Lane in Medicine Hat said, ‘I’ll start it if no one else wants to.’ So she worked with a local playground manufacturer and they built the first ever sleds in Canada.”


Chisholm’s passion for hockey began like most in Alberta – coming up through the minor ranks. When she moved on to university in Edmonton, she turned to coaching. Mentoring under Howie Draper, head coach for the University of Alberta Pandas, she couldn’t get enough of the game so she reached out to a number of organizations, including a Para program. The Para program was looking for on-ice support so Chisholm began volunteering after school and Panda practices.

That was in 2008.

“At the time I got into Para ice hockey, there was also a young guy named Matt Cook who was playing junior A hockey and had osteosarcoma. He ended up losing his leg to cancer. So him and I were both trying to figure out Para hockey at the same time,” said Chisholm. “To have somebody else to stumble through it with was really nice because we knew what we were supposed to do on the ice but to be able to actually skate and get there was a different story. You have a whole new set of skills you have to learn but the game itself is the same.”

When she returned to Medicine Hat in 2013, Chisholm revived the program that Lane had begun years prior. She worked with groups from Edmonton to help write grants, get sleds in the community and book ice times to grow the program to what is now one of the largest Para programs in the province.

In 2014, Chisholm added to her volunteer resume by starting her tenure in the role she still holds as head coach of national women’s Para team.

What began as a grassroots community program is now a high-performance program with elite standards that continues strive to get the female game into the Paralympics, similar to the men’s side.

“I’ve been really fortunate to work with a lot of people who just truly love the game of hockey and want women with disabilities to be able to showcase their skills in the game of hockey and are passionate about that. When you’re around passionate people the hard work doesn’t seem quite as hard or at least you’re lifted with other people,” said Chisholm.

The first Women’s World Para Hockey Challenge took place in Green Bay, Wisconsin in August. It featured teams from Great Britain, Canada, the United States and “the World”. Team Canada earned the silver medal, losing to the USA in the final.

But Chisholm considers the event a win for the Canadian players because of the hurdles they had to go through just to get on the ice.

Players and staff paid their own way to the Challenge, supplementing some money from fundraisers with their own cash. The team wears Hockey Canada jerseys, but is not associated with the organization, nor is it funded by Sport Canada. The staff is composed of passionate volunteers, while the players pay to play. Personal holidays/ time off are used so staff and players can participate in the team’s events.

“Our immediate goal is to become funded, similar to our USA Hockey counterparts,” said Chisholm. “Right now, USA Hockey has decided to fund the women’s national program, even though they are not in a World Championship or Paralympic Games. They decided that it’s a priority for them to give equitable access to their women the same that they do as their men’s team. So that’s what we’ll be looking for in the short term.”

For the World Challenge, Chisholm worked to keep costs as low as possible for the players. Tryouts were hosted in April, but some players were unable to attend. So Chisholm and her assistant coach Derek Whitson (who is also her husband and a former Para ice hockey player) travelled across the country to host regional camps. With players spread coast to coast and one in England, Chisholm created an online course on terminology and systems, and scheduled team workouts over Zoom a few times a week. With the leadership of veteran players, many felt it was the closest team they had ever been on – even though most didn’t meet in person until day one of the Challenge.

As performances on the international stage become more consistent, Chisholm’s long-term goal for Women’s Para Ice Hockey is to see it in the Paralympics and a World Championship.

“Our amazing group of volunteers hope that if we can take some of the pressure of raising money for Canada off our plate, we’re able to help other countries more. Which is what we need internationally for this sport,” said Chisholm. “My husband and I have been very fortunate to travel to a few different countries to help jumpstart their programs. The less work I have to do here in Canada with other Canadians supporting our women, then the more work I can do internationally.”

In addition to her work locally, nationally and internationally, Chisholm also sits on Hockey Alberta’s Para Hockey Committee, which meets monthly to discuss the growth of the program in the province.

“We’ve seen more growth and are starting to become a leader in the sport. (W)hen I first started it was Ontario and Quebec that were leading the way,” said Chisholm. “Now people are looking to Alberta for ideas for how to get the sport growing in their own province or even in their own country. We get asks from all over the world about what we’re doing here.”

Hockey Alberta is hosting a Para Kick-Off Weekend September 10-11 in Red Deer at the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre. On Saturday, para players, or those interested in trying para, are welcome to participate in a one-day camp. Then, on Sunday, Chisholm will be hosting a para coaching clinic. Those interested can still register online.

For more information on Para ice hockey in Alberta, check out the Hockey Alberta website for a list of clubs throughout the province.

Home Ice Feature

Continuing to be better

Trina Radcliffe’s life has come full circle as the manager of athletics at Olds College.

The positive impact she’s making on students goes beyond athletics, as she works with the college to make it an inclusive and safe space for all.

When you arrive on campus at Olds College, you are welcomed by three flags flying proudly across the Alberta skies. Throughout the month of June, the red and white of the Canadian flag is anchored by the blue of the Alberta flag on one side, and the rainbow colours of the Pride flag on the other. It signifies the welcome, inclusive and safe space the institution is working to provide its staff, students and community.

Over the last decade, Olds College has worked to develop its Broncos athletics program, expanding to include basketball, volleyball, futsal, rodeo and women’s hockey. The growth that Broncos Athletics has seen over the last five years can be credited to Radcliffe and the team she has built.

Radcliffe, originally from Oyen, Alta., is a product of her small-town roots. She grew up playing baseball and school sports, not because she was a standout on the court with her 5-foot-2 frame, but because the school needed her to have a team. In the winter, she could be found on the backyard rink built by her dad where she learned to play hockey with her three brothers. It wasn’t until she was 13 that she finally got to lace up for organized hockey. An hour away in Hanna they were starting a girls’ program. And as the story goes in small-town Alberta – they needed everyone to have a team.

“There was everything from nine-year-olds to 18-year-olds on that team. I was in the middle at 13 years old and loved the experience of playing hockey with girls,” says Radcliffe. “I’d always played hockey, but never got to play organized, just on the pond, so getting to play organized hockey for the first time was such an incredible experience.”

It was a twist of fate that led to a goaltending career. Radcliffe, who had played defence until then, was first in line to strap on the pads when the team’s goaltender got hurt. She was a natural between the posts and made the transition to goalie. It was a decision that paid off when she became the first goaltender for the women’s hockey team at Mount Royal College (now Mount Royal University) in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC).

Taking the lessons she learned as part of a start-up team in small-town Alberta, Radcliffe applied the same techniques to starting the team at Mount Royal.

“You just go and talk to as many people as you can and convince them that it might be scary, but come out and give it a try,” offers Radcliffe. “Myself and my coach, Chris Dawe, were putting up posters saying, ‘Come try out,’ We had ringette players, we had people who had never played hockey before, who had only public skated before, could barely skate when they came to try out. We played in the intramural league, wearing the men’s old jerseys. We played until midnight some nights and then we played in exhibition tournaments with Augustana, Red Deer and Grant MacEwan, so that was kind of the start of women’s ACAC hockey back in 1998.”

Her role in starting the Mount Royal women’s team led Radcliffe to her next transition – from player to administration. During her last season with Mount Royal, she was coached by Shelly Coolidge, who was also the female development manager at Hockey Canada. Whenever Coolidge needed volunteers, Radcliffe was there. Because of the network she had built, Radcliffe eventually earned a full-time position with Hockey Canada as the female development coordinator before moving into the manager position.

In 2015, Radcliffe made the move to Olds College. She saw the move as a return to her small-town roots, but with the opportunity to stay connected to the network she had built over years of volunteering.

“I got to know people,” says Radcliffe. “Just building that network and volunteering. That’s still what I tell everyone. Just build your network, don’t worry about getting paid for everything that you do and volunteer. That’s basically how I got every job in sport since then.”

Radcliffe grew up in a family that gave back to the community thugh volunteering. Reaping the rewards of her own experiences, Radcliffe has asked the Broncos to give back and be involved in their community.

“We’ve seen our Broncos women’s hockey team coaching minor hockey teams, going out to schools and skating with the physical education programs and we’re seeing them in all of the Hockey Alberta camps as team leaders and assistant coaches. So that’s one of the things I’m most proud of,” Radcliffe says.

Broncos athletes spent over 3,700 hours in the last year volunteering in the community. Radcliffe has recognized that it’s a struggle for most organizations to find volunteers right now, but that struggle creates opportunity for student-athletes in Olds.

“It honestly is such an important part of who we are. It’s engrained in our student-athletes. They’ll come to me now and [ask] who needs help. Who needs help in the community? Pretty much anything, we want them out there. My number-one goal is to help our student-athletes grow as people and to provide them opportunity. [Volunteering] was the best way for me and I want to instill that in them.”

Radcliffe’s work at Olds College has not gone unnoticed. In April, she received the Colleges & institutes Canada Leadership Excellence Award for Managerial Staff. The award acknowledges her work to create a collaborative, welcoming team that makes a positive impact on students, while doing it under the strategic plan of the institution. The support Radcliffe feels from her team, leadership and the community is what encourages her to be creative and collaborative.

The support from the community is what has encouraged Olds College to establish the Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) in 2019 and an Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Committee. The GSA is composed of faculty, staff and representatives from Olds High School, with Radcliffe playing an instrumental role in their development.

“Olds High School is actually the ones who taught us how to implement a GSA at the college because they have such a strong GSA group at their high school,” says Radcliffe. “It just started as staff as allies. It has taken us four years for students to feel comfortable to say ‘Yeah, I’m an ally. I’ll come and be a part of the GSA.’ So, it’s been huge steps and that’s the goal, is that the GSA should be student-led.”

Radcliffe is a member of the LGTBQ+ community and the EDI Committee. Currently, the college is working on safe-space signage for offices. In addition, there are 27 gender-inclusive washrooms available on campus, two Pride flags flying high and an EDI webpage complete with resources and directories for Indigenous students, people of colour and the GSA.

“I think everyone is trying to achieve the same thing,” Radcliffe says, reflecting on the progress she has led. “Whether it’s in sport, EDI, the registrar’s office and recruitment of student-athletes, everyone is trying to be better and do better.

“Being able to represent the LGBTQ+ community here, we’re working on painting a crosswalk on campus as well. The town has supported us. The town has gotten behind and sat on our EDI Committee as well. And I think that’s all important.”

Although June marks Pride Month across the country, the efforts to be better do not end on June 30.

“You have to be repetitive with it,” Radcliffe says. “So every year when we start our registration process for our minor sports leagues, every year when we do the initial team meetings, we talk about how we are going to be kind, how we are going to treat each other with respect, how we will not tolerate bullying on the basis of the colour of the skin or gender or sexual identity or any of those things and it has to be on the forefront all the time. But we have to be repetitive about it. We have to always talk about it.”

Home Ice Feature

Officiating a family affair for the Woods’

LETHBRIDGE – For Brent, Ryan, and Levi Woods, a life in the game of hockey has come in the form of officiating.

Growing up in small town British Columbia, Brent Woods was recruited to become an official from a family friend around the age of 14 or 15. When he moved to Alberta for university, he debated whether to continue with officiating, and ultimately opted to stick with it as it was a good way to make some extra money and spend his spare time.

He would eventually begin a role with the South Region Officials Committee as the lead of the mentoring and supervision program, which would continue with for many years. Along with that role, Brent also took on a role as an assigner. After taking a break from the Board, he is now back on as the Vice-Chair and lead of their grassroots program, which is aimed at recruiting more officials, particularly in rural areas.

With such a prominent role on the officials committee, it was only natural that his two sons, Ryan and Levi, would step in and join their father. Ryan has now been an official for six seasons, claiming that his love for the game was the reason for getting into it. When he stopped playing hockey, it was a great way for him to still be involved.

Levi just completed his first season as an official, which he says had some bumps in the road, but he continued to progress and get more comfortable with every game that he was a part of. He says that he would lean on his Father and Brother for advice throughout the year.

The trio were able to work a few games as crew, something that they said was a fun and unique experience.

“It makes it easier when we’re out there,” said Ryan. “When I’m refereeing a game and I know that my two linesmen are my dad and my brother, it’s easier for me because I know them personally, and I know I can have good communication between them.”

As a mentor, Brent’s best advice to a young official is to just go out and try it, and if you see a penalty, call it. Whether it’s the right or wrong call, if you saw it, trust your judgement, and make the call. That advice is something that both of his sons echo as younger officials.

“This is something I’ve wanted for a long time,” said Brent. “It gives me comfortability and confidence when I can be out there with them, and make sure they are getting respect from the coaches, fans, and players.”

Home Ice Feature

Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Task Force Listening to Understand

RED DEER – Recognizing the need for change in sport culture, Hockey Alberta set out to understand the extent to which racism and lack of inclusion impacts hockey across the province. The organization formed the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Task Force in October 2021. Over the last seven months, the task force has been working to change the narrative.

June marks the celebration of Pride Month and National Indigenous History Month. Members of the task force include Justin Connelly, who identifies as a gay male, and Devin Buffalo, a member of the Samson Cree Nation.

Connelly sits on the Board of Directors of the Calgary Inclusive Hockey Association (CIHA). Pioneers of LGBTQ+ hockey awareness in Alberta, the CIHA has a spot on the roster for everyone of all skill levels. Connelly’s own hockey experience has allowed him to bring a unique perspective to the EDI Task Force.

“The reason why I joined Hockey Alberta’s EDI Task Force is because I want to be able to give back to the game and sport that have meant so much to me. I have played, volunteered and worked in hockey the majority of my life,” said Connelly. “But at the age of 17, I stopped playing, I felt different. I didn’t feel included in the sport, in the game that I love. At the age of 23, I came out and realized it was okay to be myself. My true and genuine self, be confident, and still play the sport I love. I want to be able to give back and for other people like me to feel the exact same way. I want to make sure that hockey is an inclusive, open and a safe place for them so they can play the sport they love and be who they are without anyone standing in their way.”

Buffalo is a member of the Samson Cree Nation and grew up in Wetaskiwin. Over the course of his minor hockey career, he faced racism. He chose to overcome the remarks by showing what he was capable of on the ice. His goaltending career led him to the Alberta Junior Hockey League, Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League and his performances earned him a scholarship to Dartmouth College. In his third season, he was nominated for the prestigious Hobey Baker Memorial award for the top men’s hockey player in the NCAA.

“As an indigenous player playing hockey in Alberta, I faced racism and stereotypes. In particular, during a racial incident in hockey there was a feeling of fear, confusion, I really had no idea what to do in the moment. No one to turn to,” said Buffalo. “Like many players who have faced racism in hockey there was no outlet, or I didn’t feel safe sharing what happened to me at the time. Threatened that my position might get taken away from me, etc.”

After five seasons playing professionally in the East Coast Hockey League, Buffalo returned to Alberta to set his sights on new goals. In 2020, he began Waniska Athletics, named for a Cree word that means “wake up and rise,” Buffalo has delivered hockey camps and virtual school tours to Indigenous youth. He is currently attending law school at the University of Alberta.

“I really do think that this committee is headed in the right direction in Hockey Alberta and it’s very exciting to be a part of that,” said Buffalo. “When I had this opportunity to join this task force I thought maybe it was a good opportunity to have my voice heard and to have an influence in policy making and to make a difference so that no other indigenous hockey player had to deal with that and they had avenues and they had ways and people to support them.”

During the month of June, celebrate Pride and National Indigenous History Month while taking the time to listen to the stories. The EDI Task Force is listening to the experiences to improve the game of hockey for the better. Hockey Alberta encourages everyone to step up and make the game more inclusive for every individual because hockey is for everyone.

Home Ice Feature

Asian Heritage Month - Celebrating the Legacies of Greatness

Each May, we celebrate Asian Heritage Month. Throughout the month, Hockey Alberta reflects on the many achievements and contributions of Albertans of Asian heritage who, throughout our history, have done so much to make hockey the game we know and love.

To celebrate this year’s theme, “Continuing a legacy of greatness,” we first must look back at the legacies of those before us, including Larry Kwong. Born in Vernon, B.C., Kwong quickly became an offensive phenom for the Vernon Hyrdophones at 16 years old. As his skills heightened, so did the impact of World War II. Kwong put his dreams on hold to enlist in the army. His basic training stationed him in Red Deer, where he played for the army’s Red Deer Wheelers. As his comrades were sent overseas, Kwong was instructed to stay in Red Deer to play hockey to entertain the troops. During this time, he found himself facing off against NHL’ers and holding his own. Little did he know, his dreams were in motion. Kwong, a trailblazer for Chinese-Canadian players became the first player of Asian heritage and the first person of colour to play in the NHL. Kwong played his first and last shift in the league on March 13, 1948, but he opened the gate for many to follow, like Steve Tsujiura of Coaldale.

Though he never played in the NHL, Tsujiura put up impressive numbers and received several WHL awards to catch the eyes of the professional scouts. In 1981, he was chosen in the 10th round of the 1981 NHL draft by the Philadelphia Flyers. Tsujiura’s professional career spanned over 14 seasons in the AHL and in leagues overseas in Switzerland and Italy. Prior to the 1998 Winter Olympic Games, he was extended an invitation to represent Japan on the national stage. Following the Games, Tsujiura retired from playing to take on the role of head coach of the Japanese National Team. Tsujiura saw the coaching position as an opportunity to stay in the game, something he took advantage of for four seasons before retiring from the game completely.

Similar to Tsujiura, Kassy Betinol’s Olympic debut came in 2022 with the Chinese Women’s National Team. The Okotoks native received an invitation to centralize with Team China because of her Chinese heritage. Betinol became a fixture on Team Alberta growing up and played in the Okanagan in the Canadian Sport School Hockey League before earning a scholarship to Minnesota-Duluth University. After a rookie NCAA season cut short due to COVID-19, Betinol received an invitation to Canada’s National Women’s Development Team 2020 Summer Camp. After spending her 2021-22 season with the Chinese National Team, Betinol will return for another season at Minnesota-Duluth before looking for professional opportunities. She credits her Team Alberta experience for aiding in her development in a organized and professional environment to set her up in the success she has achieved thus far in her career.

The Team Alberta program is constructed to develop not only the players, but support staff as well, which is what trainer Alex Le was looking for when he volunteered. Le, of Calgary, has volunteered with Hockey Alberta on several occasions, including as the U16 Equipment Manager and Trainer in 2015 and 2016. Joining the Northwest Calgary Athletics Association as the trainer for the Midget A Bruins in 2007, Le was looking to learn and grow when he began volunteering with Hockey Alberta. Also an employee of Hockey Alberta’s long-time partner and supporter, ATB Financial, Le concludes that ATB is here to support Albertans through everything, just like Hockey Alberta.

Kwong, Tsujiura, Betinol and Le have stamped their mark on the game in their own way. Reflecting on their legacies, we will look to the next generations of Asian-Canadians to continue the legacy of greatness on the sport of hockey.

Home Ice Feature

Carving the Path for Next Generation

Today (March 8) is International Women’s Day – a day to celebrate women and their achievements. On this day, and throughout the year, Hockey Alberta celebrates women at all levels of the game.

To commemorate the day, Hockey Alberta spoke with two noteworthy Team Alberta alumnae - 2022 Olympic Gold Medalist Emerance Maschmeyer and three-time Olympic medalist, Meaghan Mikkelson.

Mikkelson, from St. Albert, is a two-time Gold-medal Olympian (2010, 2014) and won silver in 2018. She is one of the greatest players to hit the ice with a national career that spanned over 15 years. She looks back to the importance of being exposed to female role models in hockey that pushed her to be the player she is today.

“I look back and think about camps that I went to. There was one at the University of Calgary and I remember Hayley Wickenheiser was there and Danielle Goyette. That was huge for me,” said Mikkelson. “Back then there was no social media, you couldn’t follow these players and see what they were up to or be inspired by what they were doing on a daily basis to become better.”

“Now I think it’s great for young females because they have more access to female hockey players. There’s a lot more visibility in terms of marketing and advertising, companies have made it a priority to put these females out there because they understand the value in how they serve as role models for young hockey players everywhere and not just females, but males as well.”

Maschmeyer, from Bruderheim, is fresh off a Gold Medal performance at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, and is no stranger to the international stage. But she points to her Alberta roots as a key to her success to date.

“I’ve met some incredible people along the way through my journey in Alberta. Growing up in minor hockey, playing in Alberta,” said Maschmeyer. “I’ve had so much support, and this is where my game really grew. As I got older, obviously the small details of my game got better, but where I really became a hockey player was in Alberta.”

Maschmeyer made her debut with Canada’s U18 Women’s Team in 2012. Since then, her journey is similar to other women’s professional hockey players.

After honing her skills in the NCAA with Harvard, Maschmeyer found success in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL), where she won a Clarkson Cup before the league folded in 2019. As a member of the Professional Women’s Hockey Player Association (PWHPA), Maschmeyer has joined forces with the top females in the game to advocate for a sustainable professional women’s hockey league for the next generation.

“The Olympics came at a great time for us, especially with the last couple years with our professional league folding and with COVID where there has been a little bit of a lull,” said Maschmeyer. “It’s been a tough world for women’s hockey. Seeing the viewership for the games and the amount of support that we had, it really reassures that what we’re doing is great for the game and that we do have that support. It’s awesome to see.”

For Mikkelson, a decorated veteran of the game, the time is now for a professional league.

“To build off of that momentum from the Olympics, we say that every four years, but I think right now we have the most momentum that we’ve ever had,” said Mikkelson. “For there to be a professional women’s league, there needs to be support, there needs to be belief. I really do believe that’s the only way that we’re going to keep that momentum and that we’re going to continue to grow the game. We’re at a pivotal point where the game has grown so much.”

Mikkelson has built her own presence on social media and strives to share the ups and downs of life as a mom, athlete and career-woman. Sharing her journey, she’s considered a role model of many.

“I try to have the most positive impact that I can because I know what a positive impact it had for me as a young player and honestly, it’s an honour to have someone come up to me and so you’re my role model,” said Mikkelson. “I’m lucky that I have two children that I have to serve as a positive role model for them every single day and I take a lot of time and pride in thinking about what do I want that to look like?”

Mikkelson takes the responsibility of being a role model seriously and encourages everyone to set the bar high. And she now takes inspiration from a new set of role models, who are trailblazing in the National Hockey League.

“Growing up, I always wanted to be the GM of an NHL team. That was something that I never vocalized, I never talked about it because I never thought that it was possible. But now recently you see women like Émilie Castonguay and Cammi Granato and what they’re doing as assistant general managers with the Vancouver Canucks, Hayley Wickenheiser with the Toronto Maple Leafs and there are these trailblazing women who are leaving their mark on the game at an extremely high level and it’s showing that they are great hockey minds first,” said Mikkelson. “For me, seeing those women doing what they’re doing, it’s extremely inspiring and it inspired me to be vocal about my passion and my aspirations and my goals.”

Maschmeyer and Mikkelson have become household names in the female hockey world and like all females, wear many hats and have a variety of roles. Mikkelson reminds everyone to take a moment each day and check in on themselves because self-care is important and you’re at your best when your glass is full.

Take the opportunity today to celebrate the women in your life and their achievements in all their roles.

Home Ice Feature

First Annual Peace Country Female Jamboree a Success

BEAVERLODGE – The inaugural Peace Country Jamboree was a huge success in providing a unique opportunity for young female hockey players in northern Alberta.

The Jamboree was co-hosted by the Peace Country Female Hockey Club, and Beaverlodge and Sexsmith Minor Hockey Associations, October 29-30. The event was open to registered U7-U13 female hockey players, who spent the weekend honing their skills on the ice and showcasing their skills among their female peers.

The Jamboree featured players learning from female coaches like Tanya Chomyc, who led various drills and exercises to help the young players develop their skills.

Christy Martin, the Jamboree’s organizer, believes these types of events are very important for young female players, especially those in the north where the opportunity to play on an all-female team can be limited due to numbers.

“I’ve noticed, seeing my sons play and then my daughter who was in her first year of U13, we could see their drive was a little bit different. Once we moved her into girl’s hockey, her drive has immensely increased. She’s not just the girl sitting on the blue line,” said Martin. “So, I think the girls really realized that when they had a scrimmage for their last session [at the Jamboree]. They all got to participate. So, I think it really opened their eyes, especially the younger girls, just to see that there’s a team out there for them.”

In accordance with COVID-19 restrictions, attendance was capped at 60 (30 for U7/U9 players, and 30 for U11/ U13 players), with the focus on on-ice activities. Parents and family members also had the opportunity to watch the players as they learned and interacted.

Martin hopes that the Jamboree inspires other small hockey associations to establish all female hockey programs to help encourage young women to play.

And there are plans to expand the Jamboree in the future. Martin said the Jamboree hopes to increase the number of players who can participate, especially at the U7 and U9 levels, and to include off-ice activities, such as seminars led by women who played hockey beyond the minor level to inspire younger players who might feel like they do not have a place in hockey. Other plans include a luncheon for the players, and other interactive activities to allow the players time to get to know each other.

For more information on Female Hockey programs existing all-female Minor Hockey leagues and grassroots Female Hockey programs can be found on the Hockey Alberta website.

Have you been inspired by someone in Alberta’s hockey community? Hockey Alberta is interested in highlighting individuals and groups who make a difference or have a unique story to tell. Submit your story idea by email to: [email protected].

Home Ice Feature

A Dream Come True

Lacey Senuk’s goal of working as an on-ice official at the Winter Olympics seemed like a pipe dream - until she got the call.

The Level 5 official from St. Albert will be skating the XXIV Olympic Winter Games in Beijing, China as a referee in the Women’s Hockey competition.

“It’s the pinnacle of officiating for myself. It’s an unbelievable honour to be selected as part of the group that’s going. It’s been a unique couple years and to finally reach that goal is pretty surreal,” said Senuk.

Senuk is no stranger to the international stage. Her experience working IIHF tournaments, including the 2021 Women’s World Championships, placed her on a preliminary list of officials being considered for the Olympics. After traveling to Denmark for fitness testing and classroom work in November, Senuk was designated to Czechia to work an Olympic qualifier tournament before the IIHF officially named her as a referee on January 7.

“It’s always been a pipe dream just because it’s every four years, it’s a very small group of officials going. But now that dream has come true,” said Senuk. “You don’t have the words, it’s pretty indescribable. The pipe dream has come alive and it’s come to fruition.”

With less than a month until the tournament begins, Senuk’s preparation is unusual compared to her normal routine. Under normal circumstances, Senuk would work games right up to when she leaves. Due to the COVID-19 environment, she is instead turning her focus to her off-ice fitness, studying the rulebook, limiting her interactions to just her “bubble”, and hitting the ice when it is convenient for her.

“I owe a lot of gratitude to Hockey Alberta and Hockey Canada for where I am and the association that I started with in St. Albert,” said Senuk. “If it wasn’t for the individuals involved there that saw potential and helped me, it’s hard to say, would I be where I am today? You don’t know but I am very thankful for the part that every single person has played in my development as an official.”

In total, 21 females will skate the women’s tournament, making it the second Olympics that will be entirely officiated by female officials. Women’s hockey action begins on February 3, and continues through until the gold medal game on February 17.

Home Ice Feature

Hockey Gives Back Across Alberta

Throughout 2021, the hockey community has rallied together. This holiday season, teams from across the province have committed good deeds in their communities. Hockey Alberta is featuring some of those teams who have given back this season.

Girls Hockey Calgary

Girls Hockey Calgary collaborated as an association to complete a food drive in November for the Veterans Association Food Bank. Fifty teams dropped off donations in one day. In total, the association filled 26 skids of food and more of toilet paper, paper towel, Kleenex, cleaning and hygiene products.

Hockey Alberta NewsHockey Alberta NewsHockey Alberta News

Fort Saskatchewan U16 AAA

On December 19, the U16 AAA TC Infrastructure Rangers of Fort Saskatchewan played their home game versus the St. Albert Tetz Powell CPAs Flyers in support of Ty’s Toy Drive. For every goal scored, TC Infrastructure donated $100 per goal and $50 per assist. Via cash donations and 50/50 sales, a total of $2,469 was raised for the cause. Five full boxes of toys were collected upon admission. Ty’s Toy Drive is organized by seven-year-old Tyler to donate toys to kids at the Stollery Children’s Hospital.

Hockey Alberta NewsHockey Alberta News

PAC Saints U15 AA Green - Parkland County

The U15 AA PAC Saints Green are embodying the giving season. The team participated in the Kinettes Christmas Hamper Program. The team collected donations of food and money at their local “No Frills”, a 50/50 draw as well as a “fill the net” event. Through their efforts, the PAC Saints Green raised over $1,000 in cash, gift cards and toys to help families in need this holiday season.

Hockey Alberta News

Barrhead Bucks U11

The U11 Barrhead Bucks delivered the holiday spirit to their local continuing care centre this season. The team provided gift baskets filled with necessities to each resident and spread cheer through singing Christmas songs.

Hockey Alberta News

Wainwright U18 and U15 AA

At the December 11 home games, Wainwright’s U18 and U15 AA Polar Kings collected food donations to donate to the local food bank.

Hockey Alberta News

Camrose U13 AA

On their Saturday off, the U13 AA Camrose Vikings traversed the streets of Camrose collecting cash and food bank items. The donation were the finishing touches to the local Christmas hampers that were distributed to 300 families in need in Camrose.

Hockey Alberta News

Grande Prairie Minor Hockey Association

Grande Prairie Minor Hockey Association rallied together to generate over 800 lbs of food for the Golden Arrow U15 AAA Storm Christmas Food Drive. The association donated approximately 40 boxes of food that will help many people within the community!

Hockey Alberta News

Delburne U15 Tournament

Delburne’s U15 division added a twist to their tournament activities - a food bank challenge. The Delburne Food Bank received a truck load of goods and cash donations while the winning team enjoyed pizza for their efforts.

Hockey Alberta News

Coaldale Minor Hockey Association

Beginning on December 1, the Coaldale Minor Hockey Association began collecting donations for the local food bank. With a goal to fill "the box", the association amassed a truck load that was delivered to help those in the community in need.

Hockey Alberta NewsHockey Alberta NewsHockey Alberta News

Smoky River Minor Hockey Association

The Smoky River Minor Hockey Association’s U7, U9 and U11 teams displayed their skills in a minor hockey showcase earlier this season. They showcased more than their on-ice skills as the teams channelled their community spirit and competed to fill a hockey bag with the most donations to the local FCSS. Each team was a winner as they combined for over 482 lbs of food to be donated to fill the Christmas food hampers to help those in the community this holiday season!

Hockey Alberta News

Coaldale U18 Cobras

Coaldale’s U18 Cobras are giving back all season long. The team has volunteered to participate in the Town of Coaldale’s Snow Angels program. After each snowfall this winter, the team will remove snow for those who are unable to do it themselves.

Hockey Alberta News

Drumheller U15 and U18 Raptors

In support of the Salvation Army’s Tree of Hope, the Drumheller U15 and U18’s held a toy drive at their home games on November 20. The toy drive was a huge success, with the proceeds from the 50/50 going towards the initiative. The teams are already planning for bigger and better in 2022!

Hockey Alberta NewsHockey Alberta News

Calgary Knights Hockey Club U11-3 and U9-2 Grey

Hockey Calgary’s U11-3 and U9-2 Grey teamed up to adopt a family through the North East Calgary Adopt-A-Family Society (NECAAFS). Through the generosity by the two teams, they were able to provide clothes, toys, essentials and grocery gift certificates totalling in excess of $1000 for their "adopted family".

Hockey Alberta NewsHockey Alberta News

Has your team or association committed a good deed in the community this holiday season? Hockey Alberta wants to hear about it! Submit the way your team is giving back this holiday season by clicking this link:

Hockey Gives Back

Home Ice Feature

Honouring the Human Behind the Uniform

In 2021, November has notably marked the return of hockey. Life has returned to the busy routine of moving from one activity from the next.

But today, November 11, Hockey Alberta encourages everyone to take a moment to remember those who have fought for our freedoms and honour those who continue to serve.

One of those current officers is also a member of Alberta hockey community - Canadian Armed Forces Commanding Officer, Major Leona Ahn.

Having served for more than 16 years, Leona is currently stationed in Edmonton. As a 23-year-old, she deployed to Afghanistan. Since returning to home soil, she has worked in international events such as the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver, relief efforts after natural disasters such as the 2013 floods in Southern Alberta, and 2016 wildfires in Northern Alberta. Most recently, she has aided in the fight against COVID-19.

Though Leona didn’t grow up playing hockey, she fell in love because of the sport. Leona met her spouse, Angie, during a ball hockey tournament. An ice hockey player herself including a stint with the University of Alberta Pandas, Angie enrolled Leona in hockey lessons and Leona was hooked. Sealing their fate of being hockey Moms, their five-year-old daughter began playing Timbits this season.

With a family at home, Leona credits Angie and their two kids for her success and drive.

“I would be nothing without Angie and our family and I know that a lot of military members would say the same thing,” said Leona. “We cannot do what we do, we cannot do what we love, without our families and the incredible sacrifices of parenting alone. The postings, the instability for families sometimes and putting them through that and still having a smile and supporting, that means the world to us.”

For Angie, who is a teacher, being part of a military family means that schedules can change quite quickly, depending on Leona’s role at the time. But it is worth it.

“It’s a real honour to be a spouse to someone in uniform, that’s representing our country,” said Angie. “I always look at it as a really great opportunity for our kids to see somebody who’s not just looking out for family, but looking out for our community and our country.”

For the Ahn family, Remembrance Day is a time to set aside political affiliation or thoughts on foreign policy, and “support the human behind the uniform.”

“Remembrance Day is a great week to be in reflection and full of gratitude for the abundance of what we have as Canadians and to reflect on all the veterans that are no longer with us today and to the soldiers that are currently serving right now,” said Leona. “Because we’re mothers and fathers, we’re sisters and brothers, we’re your friends, we’re your neighbours.”

And the last 18 months have provided a new, contemporary context for the role of the military in Canada.

“Never did we think that the Canadian Armed Forces would be in long-term care facilities during a global pandemic. Never did we think that we’d be sending military nurses to be at the Royal Alex supporting ICU capacity, or did we think that we were going to do vaccine distribution in Indigenous communities up north,” Leona said. “These are your everyday soldiers. It’s not all about the bloodshed and combat, we’re a pretty holistic force as we’ve proven this year. We’re fighting fires, we’re doing flood relief operations, we’re up north, as well as trying to build relations, diplomatic ties, securities in other regions outside Canada where they don’t have the same privileges as us.”

This Remembrance Day take a moment. Reflect on those who have served, honour those who continue to serve and respect the thousands of military families who have sacrificed for our freedom and our country. Lest we forget.

Home Ice Feature

Calgary Buffalo Trainers Called to Action

The evening of Oct. 7, Calgary Buffalo Hockey Association trainers, Haley Patyna, Shyin Dixon and Blair Olsen, were wrapping up U21 baseline concussion testing at Cardel Rec South in Calgary, when they were called to action.

Out of the rink where a 55-plus recreational league game was being played, two guys came out saying they needed an AED (automated external defibrillator), there was a guy on the ice having a heart attack.

Through quick thinking and teamwork, the trainers jumped to action. Together, they saved a life that night.

Read the full story on

Home Ice Feature

National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Today marks the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, as declared in June by the Government of Canada.

According to the Government of Canada website, the day honours the lost children and Survivors of residential schools, their families and communities. Public commemoration of the tragic and painful history and ongoing impacts of residential schools is a vital component of the reconciliation process.

“For me, the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation, it’s important for Indigenous people as it honours the stolen children that never came home and survivors of residential schools,” said Jordan Courtepatte, President of Enoch Cree Hockey Association. “It also uncovers the dark history of the Canadian government’s treatment of Indigenous people and the atrocities the kids faced while attending the residential schools.”

In May, 215 unmarked graves of Indigenous children were recovered in Kamloops, BC, at the site of a residential school. Since then, hundreds more have been uncovered across Canada. The National Truth and Reconciliation Commission estimates there are thousands yet to be found.

According to a CBC article more than 150,000 First Nation, Metis and Inuit children were forced to attend church-run, government-funded schools between the 1870s and 1997. Children were removed from their families and culture and forced to learn English, embrace Christianity and adopt the customs of the country’s white majority. Survivors often do not talk about their experience at the residential schools due to the physical, emotional, psychological and sexual abuse they suffered during their time at the schools.

“My Kookum, which is my grandmother, she was in residential school and that had a negative impact on my family. My Dad and all my uncles and aunties, they grew up in day school, foster care and eventually a lot of them were incarcerated, and that played a big impact in my life,” said Courtepatte. “We struggled coming up, but luckily my mother is a great mother and she helped break the cycle for my brother and I. Now we’ve broken the cycle for our kids and we hope to continue that and try to help build a better place for our kids to live in.”

First Nations Elders call September “the crying month” as that was when children would be taken from their homes. Orange Shirt Day – recognized on September 30 each year - is a legacy of the St. Joseph Mission Residential School (1891-1981) Commemoration Project and Reunion events that took place in Williams Lake, BC in May 2013. As part of the event, Phyllis Webstad told her story about being given a beautiful orange shirt by her grandmother for her first day of residential school. That shirt was taken away from her on her first day and never returned.

Through the power of social media, Orange Shirt Day has grown to be a national movement. This year, it will coincide with National Truth and Reconciliation Day.

“The National Truth and Reconciliation Day is important for everyone. It shows that action is taking place, the building of trust between Indigenous people. It also helps build the relationship between Indigenous people by bringing the dark history to light and creating an open dialogue of conversations that need to happen,” said Courtepatte. “I feel I have an obligation to my kids, and one day their kids, to help create a positive environment for them to live in. We all live in this country together and it’s going to take a collective effort to help make this place better for the present and future for all of us.”

Many members of the Alberta hockey community have their own residential school experience and orange shirt story to tell.

Today, we wear orange to remember the lost children and recognize the survivors of residential schools, their families and communities, acknowledge the truth of the dark history associated with residential schools, and begin conversations of reconciliation.

Home Ice Feature

Hockey Alberta Announces 2021 Life Members

RED DEER – Hockey Alberta is proud to announce that three long-time volunteers have been recognized with Life Membership status for their decades of service to minor hockey.

George Kallay, Terry Ledingham and Annie Orton are the new Life Members.

Life Membership is the highest honour which may be bestowed by Hockey Alberta, recognizing individuals who have dedicated their time and support to making the game of hockey better in Alberta.

"Our three new Life Members are exceptional individuals who have contributed so much to amateur hockey in their communities and across the province,” said Francois Gagnon, a member of the Hockey Alberta Board of Directors, and chair of the Life Member Selection committee. “It is a great honour to recognize their accomplishments and see Annie, Terry and George join such a distinguished group of people who have dedicated their lives to the game of hockey in Alberta and beyond."

George Kallay, of Drumheller, experienced the game of hockey from every level – as a player, parent, referee, volunteer and executive member with Hockey Alberta, the Hockey Alberta Foundation and Hockey Canada. George was inducted into the Alberta Hockey Hall of Fame twice - in 2015 as a Builder and again in 2018 as Director of Operations of the 1999 Canada Games gold-medal winning Team Alberta U16 Male squad. George passed away in 2020 at the age of 74.

Terry Ledingham, of Bon Accord, has been involved in hockey at the minor hockey, Hockey Alberta and Hockey Canada levels. Terry volunteered with Hockey Alberta in a variety of roles including as President of Hockey Alberta. During his term as President, minor hockey coaches were directed to wear helmets during all on-ice practices and the first Regional Development Centre in Grande Prairie was opened. Terry also served for five years as a Vice Chair at Large for Hockey Canada and was inducted to the Alberta Hockey Hall of Fame in 2016.

Annie Orton, of Blairmore, dedicated more than 30 years to the sport of hockey beginning with Crowsnest Pass Minor Hockey Association before volunteering with Hockey Alberta and eventually becoming President of Hockey Alberta. Within her two-year term, Hockey Alberta partnered with Respect Group to provide access to the Respect in Sport Parent program and examined non-body contact options for players. Annie was the recipient of Hockey Canada’s Outstanding Volunteer of the Year Award in 2013.

The new Life Members bring the list of Hockey Alberta’s Life Members to 25.

To learn more about Hockey Alberta, visit or follow on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Home Ice Feature

Hockey Alberta’s Pathway to Coach Development

Hockey Alberta is celebrating coaches at every level of the sport during National Coaches Week.

As associations and teams across the province prepare for the 2021-22 season, one thing is certain - a coach’s development is never finished. In fact, coaches are the lifeblood of the hockey system. A good coach generally equals a great experience for the players.

In Alberta, development opportunities for hockey coaches are coordinated through Hockey Alberta’s Coaching Pathway, which focuses on philosophies appropriate for every level of player - from grassroots through to the elite level.

“Creating a really comprehensive coach development plan is really important. We have focused on a coaching pathway, and within that pathway, first and foremost, coach development does start at the local level,” said Justin Fesyk, Senior Manager of Hockey Development. “So, we want to create an environment where our associations put the amount of emphasis needed and support mechanisms in place to develop their coaches.”

Hockey Alberta’s Regional Managers – who are located around the province - can aid in the creation of an association’s Coach Development Plan. The Regional Managers also lead the implementation of National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP) for hockey in Alberta, which is a requirement for all coaches. A full list of coaching requirements is available on the Hockey Alberta website.

Coach certification clinics are ongoing now across the province. For a current list of clinic dates and locations, go to the Hockey Alberta website.

Registration must be done online through HCR, with one of the requirements being that each coach must have an account in the new HCR 3.0 platform.


For more information on coach development opportunities available to associations, or for individual coaches, contact a Hockey Alberta Regional Manager.

For more information about Hockey Alberta’s coaching pathway and the opportunities within the province, check out an interview with Justin Fesyk (below), or tune into Episode 14 of the Centre Ice Podcast, which airs on Thursday, Sept. 22.

Home Ice Feature

National Indigenous Peoples Day & History Month - Kyle Dodginghorse

Nearly 20 years ago, Kyle Dodginghorse stepped behind the bench for the first time to coach at the Alberta Treaty Hockey Games and Native Provincials.

He now sits on Hockey Alberta’s Indigenous Hockey Committee and is the Hockey Coordinator for Tsuut’ina Nation.

The position with Tsuut’ina Nation came about through a side project, Dodginghorse Development, that he and his wife founded when they noticed that Indigenous children often missed out on opportunities to participate. They hosted hockey camps that incorporated hockey, yoga and personal fitness on holidays and over the course of the summer.

“We wanted to do our own little hockey camps to get kids on the ice for a low cost to get them on the ice and give them the extra development,” said Dodginghorse. “There was an opportunity on the reserve with this building (7 Chiefs Sportplex) opening, that they wanted someone to run the hockey program. It was everything I wanted to do, and now I take care of everything hockey for our kids.”

Though his title has changed, the passion for providing opportunities to Indigenous youth and getting more kids into the game is still prominent for Dodginghorse.

“I run an afterschool hockey program for kids to get extra ice time. Every day there’s a different age group from U7-U18 and it gives them time to work on skills they can’t work on in practice. During the summer we transition to a daily drop-in with their designated age groups,” said Dodginghorse. “We started the Little 7 Chiefs Hockey Program two years ago. It’s for anyone who hasn’t played hockey before but it’s geared toward the 4-7 year-olds who aren’t ready to play hockey in an association. It’s a chance to get comfortable on the ice and see if it’s for them. In the two years we’ve ran it, we’ve had a lot of success, with about 30 new kids each year. So that’s 30 new kids ready to go to the association the next year.”

Dodginghorse has worked to develop a partnership with Hockey Calgary, one that he said was instrumental in bringing the First Shift Program to Tsuut’ina Nation.

Committed to delivering programs that eliminate barriers, Dodginghorse has also created an equipment exchange program at the 7 Chiefs Sportplex. Through his efforts of giving youth an opportunity to play hockey, Tsuut’ina Nation is also a recipient of an Every Kid Every Community grant from Hockey Alberta.

“(Every Kid Every Community) helped us huge. I’m kind of a one-man army so that will allow me to bring in extra instruction for our youth. Maybe it’s someone that will focus on stickhandling, shooting, powerskating, but just to give them another voice and another point of view as well. There’s a lot of wear and tear on our stuff so to be able to get new equipment is nice. We’re excited to have that grant,” said Dodginghorse.

As Dodginghorse continues to grow the sport in his community, he is disheartened that racism is still happening in today’s game.

“Sometimes you deal with the racism. Unfortunately I don’t think it’s going to go away in the near future. It’s not just in sports, it’s everywhere,” said Dodginghorse. “With Ethan Bear, I obviously commend him for standing up and saying what he said because it’s not easy to do that. That’s the hardest thing because you don’t know how to stand up to it. You don’t know how it’s going to be dealt with or if it’s going to be swept under the rug.”

Dodginghorse has experienced racism at all levels and believes the first step to treating everyone equal, is to make people aware that the discrimination is happening, which is something that social media is doing.

“I’m so proud to be Native. We have a beautiful culture. We’re so family oriented and always cheering for each other,” Dodginghorse said. “Every time I see someone else succeed it brings me so much joy. I hope to see some of our kids at that (professional) level in the future.”

Yet Dodginghorse does not measure success of Tsuut’ina Nation’s hockey program through level of play. He determines it by the life-long relationships players develop through their time in the game and the life skills they learn. And he’s adamant that hockey is the best game that you can play.

Home Ice Feature

If you can play, you can play

RED DEER – If you can play, you can play.

It’s that simple for those involved with the You Can Play Project.

The You Can Play Project began as an effort to continue the work done by Brendan Burke, son of Brian Burke, the president of hockey operations with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Brendan Burke, who came out as an openly gay man in 2009, died in an automobile crash in 2010. Brendan’s brother Patrick, along with Brian Kitts and Glenn Witman began the You Can Play Project to continue Brendan’s work to eradicate homophobia in the National Hockey League (NHL) and beyond.

“Every day we’re out there trying to make sure that all athletes are judged based on their heart, their talent, their character, not their sexual orientation, not their gender identity,” said Witman. “Just be a good teammate, and we want you on the team.”

In 2012, You Can Play officially launched their partnership with the NHL by releasing a video called “The Faceoff”, featuring numerous NHL players, with the goal of the video to “carry on Brendan’s legacy, and ensure that LGBTQ+ athletes around the world are afforded equal opportunity; judged only by their talent, character, and work ethic in their sport.”

Along with the NHL, You Can Play has partnered with numerous other leagues and corporations. The National Football League, Canadian Football League, National Women’s Hockey League, Major League Soccer, and others help make the You Can Play Project initiatives possible, such as Pride Night collaborations and the development of educational platforms.

“(These partners) are the bread and butter of You Can Play. You need to have ambassadors and people that understand our mission that are out there trying to spread the word,” said Witman.

You Can Play encourages everyone to get involved as an advocate, ambassador, or volunteer. They have an excellent collection of resources on their website that can help educate players, coaches, parents, and teams about the importance of safety and inclusion for all LGBTQ+ athletes.

To contact You Can Play, please click here.

Home Ice Feature

Asian Heritage Month - Alex Le

Alex Le was going to school to become an Emergency Medical Technician at Southern Alberta Institute of Technology, when a classmate noticed his keen interest in hockey and suggested he get involved with a minor association.

Two weeks into his first trainer role, the Northwest Calgary team travelled to Chicago for a tournament. The camaraderie Le experienced between the staff and the team was enough to hook him for life.

“It hooked me. I wanted to be a part of that moving forward,” said Le. “I watched the Calgary Buffaloes win the Mac’s tournament in 2008 and I remember thinking, ‘that would be such a cool experience as a trainer - being down there, right in those benches in the Saddledome.’”

Le played minor hockey in Saskatoon until he was 13, before moving to Calgary in 1995. He joined the Northwest Calgary Athletics Association as the trainer for the Midget A Bruins in 2007. The following season he moved to the Calgary Buffaloes Hockey Association.

In 2019, life came full circle. Le celebrated in the benches of the Saddledome as the Buffaloes won the Mac’s Tournament.

Having worked with players of all ages between U14-U21 in the Buffaloes association, Le looked to the Team Alberta program to expand his trainer resume.

“Some of the trainers I had worked with said it was a great experience and I’m always looking to learn and grow. That year (2015), I decided to throw my hat into the ring and I was luckily accepted,” said Le. “The long days were worth every single second. Learning everything that Team Alberta puts into coaching and into developing players and setting them up for success. And not only that but it’s setting us trainers up for success as well. And I just loved that experience.”

Le has volunteered for Hockey Alberta on several occasions, including as the U16 Equipment Manager and Trainer in 2015 and 2016.

In his professional life, Le is employed by one of Hockey Alberta’s long-time partners and supporters, ATB Financial.

“What makes me proud about working with ATB Financial is that it’s purely Albertan. It’s a bank that’s here for Albertans, made for Albertans,” said Le. “We’re here to support Albertans through everything and I think that is the same as Hockey Alberta. We share the same core values, we share the same goals, just wanting to elevate Albertans in their journey.”

Part of Le’s journey includes growing up in Saskatchewan and Alberta as an Asian-Canadian.

“You face adversity here and there. Racial comments and racial slurs being thrown out whether it be by a parent or kid, it happens,” said Le. “Having to learn that and deal with that at such a young age. It was a good learning experience, it’s not the greatest learning experience, but it helps shape you as a person in terms of resiliency.”

Le believes there are kids out there that do experience the same adversity. His ability to relate to what they are going through and help navigate the situation establishes Le as a role model for the next generation. Through his trainer role, his hope is that he can help players be the best people they can be.

“I was listening to talk radio and they were talking about success in hockey and how it’s defined. The person who was talking about it said, ‘success doesn’t mean your child is playing in the NHL. Success is defined by is your child still using those skills in their life. If your child is 50 years old and still playing beer league hockey, that is success in hockey,’” said Le. “That really resonated with me because my Dad, who was an immigrant to Canada from Vietnam, turned on the TV one night and he saw the NHL and was captivated. He hoped that I could learn something from that and use it in my life. I didn’t make the NHL – I wasn’t even close. But those skills that I learned, like the cliché things about teamwork, have given me life skills.”

Le started in hockey at a young age and whether it be through playing, working as a trainer or the relationships he’s formed, he still finds joy in the game. Now married with a wife and two children, Le doesn’t see his life without hockey.

Home Ice Feature

Photo credit: LA Media

22 Albertans listed in NHL Central Scouting’s Final Rankings

RED DEER - NHL Central Scouting has released its final rankings for the 2021 NHL Entry Draft, with 22 Albertans making an appearance - 17 skaters, and five goaltenders.

A pair of Team Alberta alumni and Edmonton Oil Kings teammates lead the way in their respective categories, as Sebastian Cossa was named the top North American goaltender, while Dylan Guenther was the highest ranked Albertan among North American Skaters, coming in at number five.

Two more team Alberta alumni are among the top 20 North American skaters: defenceman Corson Ceulemans, and forward Colton Dach.

The full list of Albertans named to NHL Central Scouting’s final rankings can be found below:

Final Rank Player Position Last Amateur Club League
5 Dylan Guenther Forward Edmonton Oil Kings WHL
14 Corson Ceulemans Defence Brooks Bandits AJHL
19 Colton Dach Forward Saskatoon Blades WHL
45 Olen Zellweger Defence Everett Silvertips WHL
59 Sean Tschigerl Forward Calgary Hitmen WHL
60 Zack Ostapchuk Forward Vancouver Giants WHL
63 Jayden Grubbe Forward Red Deer Rebels WHL
93 Kyle Masters Defence Red Deer Rebels WHL
105 Owen Pederson Forward Winnipeg Ice WHL
142 Dru Krebs Defence Medicine Hat Tigers WHL
145 Marc Lajoie Defence Tri-City Americans WHL
151 Lucas Ciona Forward Seattle Thunderbirds WHL
190 Zack Stringer Forward Lethbridge Hurricanes WHL
191 Riley Ginnell Forward Brandon Wheat Kings WHL
192 Ryker Evans Defence Regina Pats WHL
208 Noah Serdachny Forward Salmon Arm Silverbacks BCHL
219 Gannon Laroque Defence Victoria Royals WHL
1 Sebastian Cossa Goaltender Edmonton Oil Kings WHL
12 Talyn Boyko Goaltender Tri-City Americans WHL
18 Taylor Gauthier Goaltender Prince George Cougars WHL
28 Gage Alexander Goaltender Winnipeg Ice WHL
32 Ethan Kruger Goaltender Brandon Wheat Kings WHL

Home Ice Feature

George McCorry receives 2021 Hockey Canada Officiating Award

Congratulations to George McCorry on receiving the 2021 Hockey Canada Officiating Award.

Over the last 55 years, McCorry’s name has become synonymous with officiating in Alberta.

Donning the black and white for the first time at 12 years old, McCorry achieved the top level of refereeing certification, Level VI, by the time he was 30. He took on national and international assignments for Hockey Canada, including three national university championship appearances and a role in the 1992 Olympic Winter Games in Albertville, France. Two years later, McCorry refereed 10 games in the NHL.

While the list of on-ice accomplishments is lengthy, his continued work developing officials may be more meaningful to the long-term success of the game. For over 25 years, McCorry has been an instructor for the National Referee Certification Program, and he’s been supervising officials in Alberta for 38 years. He has served as referee-in-chief with Hockey Alberta and as chair of the Hockey Alberta Referees’ Council. Since 1999, McCorry has been the vice-president and supervisor of officials for the Alberta Junior Hockey League.

On and off the ice, McCorry has been keeping the game in check and teaching the next generation of officials how to do the same.

Home Ice Feature

Asian Heritage Month - Kassy Betinol

Kassy Betinol credits her brothers for getting her into the sport that has given her everything.

“My journey with hockey started when I was really young with my two older brothers,” said Betinol. “My brother was a goalie and I really wanted to be a goalie so I went to all of his goalie lessons and would watch all of his practices.”Her favourite memories growing up were the hours spent in the basement with the goalie pads strapped on as her brothers fired shots at her; but Betinol’s dreams of being a goalie were dashed as she became an offensive force on the ice.

Becoming a fixture with Team Alberta, Betinol’s hockey journey took her from her hometown in Okotoks to the Okanagan where she played in the Canadian Sport School Hockey League (CSSHL) throughout her high school, before traveling across the border to University of Minnesota-Duluth to play NCAA Division I hockey.

“Being in the Team Alberta environment, a more organized and professional environment helped me develop,” said Betinol. “Growing up in Okotoks, it’s such a nice size small town and moving out in high school, being away from my parents and having to make decisions on my own made me less homesick when I got to Duluth. Coming to the (United) States has always been my dream. Playing in the NCAA, in front of all these crazy fans, has been unbelievable.”

After a rookie NCAA season cut short due to COVID-19, Betinol earned an invite to Canada’s National Women’s Development Team 2020 Summer Camp. Even though the camp – her first with Hockey Canada – was cancelled due to the pandemic, Betinol spent time on Zoom calls with the top players from across the nation.

“Moving forward, I want to work as hard as I can to get as far as I can within the (Hockey Canada) program,” said Betinol. “I want to have these experiences to use to give back to the game later and guide the younger players. The women’s game is growing and in the right strides.”

Betinol wants to utilize her experiences to give back to the game - including being an Asian-Canadian female hockey player.

“You don’t see a lot of players with Asian backgrounds, so it’s really cool to say that I have that. Being a little bit different means a lot to me,” said Betinol. “I’m in a pretty fortunate spot to say that I haven’t had to face many challenges. Every town that I’ve lived in and every program that I’ve played for have been super welcoming and I can’t see I’ve had any crazy problems with it.”

With two seasons under her belt with Minnesota-Duluth, Betinol is already eyeing professional opportunities for her post-university career. The opportunities hockey has continued to give Betinol are endless and she owes the game, and her brothers, everything.

Home Ice Feature

Asian Heritage Month - Steve Tsujiura

Born to Japanese-Canadian parents who were interned in British Columbia during World War II, Steve Tsujiura grew up skating the streets of Coaldale - literally.

“When I was a kid, the town made an outdoor rink, so I would get home from school put on my skates and skate down the road. We’d play on the rink and then I’d skate back home,” recalled Tsujiura. “My toes would be freezing so my mom would put me on a vent heater and bring me hot chocolate.”

As Tsujiura’s love for the game grew, he travelled to nearby Lethbridge and Taber to play competitive hockey before becoming a fixture with the Western Hockey League’s Medicine Hat Tigers in 1978.

For three consecutive seasons Tsujiura led the Tigers in points, capping his junior career with an impressive 389 points in 243 games. Along the way, he was named WHL Player of the Year (1981), Most Sportsmanlike Player (1980, 1981) and a WHL Second All-Star (1981). And in the 1981 National Hockey league draft, Tsujiura was chosen in the 10th round by the Philadelphia Flyers (205th overall).

Over the next eight seasons, Tsujiura found his stride in the American Hockey League (AHL) where he spent most of his career with the Maine Mariners. While his NHL dream may have dwindled, his hockey journey was far from over.

The Canadian love affair with the game that started with frozen toes and hot chocolate, took Tsujiura overseas where he played in leagues in Italy and Switzerland from 1989-1994.

Then, in preparation for hosting the 1998 Winter Olympic Games, Japan began developing its national hockey program. As part of an effort to ice a competitive team in Nagano, the Japanese Men’s National Team extended invitations to six North Americans, including Tsujiura.

“Marching into the stadium in the opening ceremonies and seeing all the different countries was an experience I won’t forget,” said Tsujiura. “It was a very cool experience. We played in the earlier pool with countries like France, Austria, Kazakhstan and they took the winner of each side to play against Canada, U.S, Czech Republic. That’s how Olympic hockey was set-up then.”

Following the 1998 Olympics, Tsujiura retired from his playing career to step behind the bench as head coach of the Japanese National Team. Having no experience in coaching prior to taking over as bench boss, Tsujiura saw it as an opportunity to stay in the game.

“It was my first foray into coaching, which was interesting. I didn’t get a team for a whole season so I coached different events. I would be in Japan and I was also a second assistant coach for a team in Portland, Maine, which was in the AHL, so I was also home a month,” said Tsujiura. “It was probably harder on my wife, but I was kind of an absentee Dad. I would be home for three weeks, drive the kids around or look after them. I wouldn’t call it the best situation, but it was a unique situation.”

After four years traveling between the Japan and the United States, Tsujiura returned to Maine to settle with his family.

Because of hockey, Tsujiura was able to call the country from which his ancestors had immigrated home for a short while.

“My parents were born in Canada, they were born on the west coast. They were uprooted when the war broke out and got interned in interior B.C., my Mom and Dad really never talked about anything,” recalled Tsujiura. “It’s very sad because it’s a part of our history, that’s just the way it was. But they set up a good life in Alberta.”

With resilient parents, who had everything taken away from them and were forced to start a new, Tsujiura took advantage of opportunities when they presented themselves throughout his hockey career. Never wavering from his Alberta roots, he credits hockey for teaching him some of the most valuable life lessons he has learned.

Home Ice Feature

Asian Heritage Month - Larry Kwong

Larry Kwong’s NHL career lasted all of a New York minute, though that minute changed the game forever.

Born in Vernon, B.C. in 1923, to a Chinese-Canadian mother and a Chinese immigrant father, Kwong was one of 15 children. Kwong’s family owned and operated a grocery store, though as a Chinese-Canadian family, the household faced segregation, including being banned from voting.

During the winter months, in skates a size too big and magazines taped to his shins for pads, Kwong would spend hours on frozen ponds playing shinny with his brothers. In the evenings, they would huddle around the radio listening to Foster Hewitt call the game from Toronto and as many Canadian kids, he dreamed of one day hearing his name. Having never played organized hockey and in the days of the “Original Six,” that dream seemed a world away.

At 16, Kwong joined the Vernon Hydrophones and quickly became an offensive phenom, helping the Hydrophones to a provincial championship in 1941. Though he excelled on the ice, Kwong felt the repercussions of being a Chinese-Canadian in the 40’s, facing discrimination on and off the ice.

But his love for the game kept him pushing boundaries.

“I was afraid to tell my family, because if I did tell them that, the first thing they would say is ‘You’re not going anymore.’ And that means I couldn’t play hockey or sports. I toughed it out, just toughed it out,” Kwong said in a 2013 CBC article.

The success Kwong found with the Hydrophones did not go unnoticed as he earned himself a tryout with the Trail Smoke Eaters, a semi-professional team. Players with the Smoke Eaters received a high-paying job at the local smelter. Being Chinese, Kwong was stripped of the job at the smelter, instead spending his days working as a bellhop at a hotel.

During this time, the impact of World War II was being felt across the world and Kwong moved to Nanaimo to build war materials by day and skate with the Nanaimo Clippers by night, still dreaming of one day playing in the NHL. As the war raged overseas, Kwong set his dreams aside for his country and enlisted in the army.

Kwong’s basic training stationed him in Red Deer, where he played for the army’s Red Deer Wheelers. NHL players returning home to enlist in the military were recruited by rival teams and Kwong soon found himself facing off against men living his dream - and holding his own against them. As his comrades were sent overseas, Kwong was instructed to stay in Red Deer to play hockey to entertain the troops. And this is where he began catching the eye of professional scouts.

After the war, Kwong returned to the Smoke Eaters, where he led the team in scoring and earned another championship. In 1946, the New York Rangers extended a try-out invitation.

Topping out at five feet, six inches, Kwong’s agile speed and smooth stick handling landed him an assignment to the Ranger’s farm team, the New York Rovers. A fan favourite, his nicknames, “King Kwong” and “Chinese Clipper” echoed Madison Square Gardens during Rovers games.

Nearing the end of Kwong’s second season with the Rovers, the New York Rangers were traveling to Montreal with a line-up riddled with injuries when Kwong got the call.

“When I had the chance to become a Ranger I was really excited. I said to myself: That’s what I wanted since I was a young boy. I wanted to play in the NHL,” Kwong said in an article in the New York Times.

On March 13, 1948, Kwong dressed in his first NHL game. On that night, he became the first player of Asian heritage and the first person of colour to play in the NHL. He found a spot on the bench and that’s where he stayed until he got the nod late in the third period.

Kwong did not score, he did not get an assist, he did not get a penalty, nor did he let Montreal score. He played his first and last shift in the NHL. Kwong’s NHL career was over in a New York minute. But he opened the gate for many to follow.

Over the next five years, Kwong played in the minors, demonstrating blistering speed and unmatched goal scoring abilities. He then moved overseas to play in British and Swiss leagues before transitioning to coaching.

Despite many efforts to derail his hockey career, Kwong accomplished his goal of playing in the NHL and is an honoured member in the Alberta Hockey Hall of Fame (2016 Founder’s Award Recipient) and B.C. Hockey Hall of Fame (2013) as a pioneer of the game.

Kwong returned to Calgary where he opened a grocery store and was active in his community. He lost both of his legs due to poor circulation, yet his resilient spirit carried him to the gym into his 90’s.

Kwong passed away in 2018 at the age of 94.

Home Ice Feature

Breakfast with Beckett: The life of a U11 Goalie

STRATHCONA – As a goaltender, actor, and radio host, Beckett William is a young man of many talents.

Life as a 10-year-old goaltender can be busy navigating through school, hockey practices, and spending time with friends. For one hockey player in Strathcona, he has found the time to add in so much more.

It all started when Beckett was three years old and learned to skate thanks to the influence of his grandfather. As soon as he was able, Beckett began playing organized hockey with the Strathcona Warriors Minor Hockey Association. When he got to his second year of U9, the team was giving all the players a chance to try playing goalie, and it didn’t take long for Beckett to fall in love with the position.

“I wanted to (play hockey) because my Grandpa was a hockey player, and I wanted to skate like him, so I started skating and we got me a stick and I just started playing hockey,” said Beckett. “I get to meet great people and friends on the team, and it’s fun getting pucks in my chest.”

What may be more impressive is how Beckett has filled his time away from the rink.

He auditioned for a role in an upcoming movie called Connecting Flights. Beckett landed the role due to his ability to do a British accent on top of using his regular voice. The movie began filming in March 2020 but was then postponed to July due to COVID-19 restrictions in Alberta. Once completed, the film was released in early 2021. Beckett attributes his years of playing hockey as something that helped with his teamwork during the film making process.

“I’ve seen myself on a screen before, but not in a movie – and I was just like this is really cool, I want to keep doing this,” said Beckett.

In February, Beckett was asked if he would like to expand his talents and begin hosting his own radio show on Sound Sugar Radio where he could discuss his three favourite things: film making, acting, and hockey.

It was shortly after that when Breakfast with Beckett was born. Since his first episode, Beckett has featured such guests as Andrew Ference, Tim Hunter, and Gene Principe. His favourite part about hosting a radio show is getting to know different kinds of people and hearing their experiences.

“I was on an interview on my Grandpa’s show (Bill & Paul Face the Music), and we went off air and he just asked me if I wanted to do my own radio show, and I was like definitely, then two weeks later we did the first episode,” said Beckett.

There has been a lot of excitement packed into Beckett’s first decade, but he says he hopes to continue with acting, radio hosting, and hockey for the foreseeable future.

Ideally, he will one day star in a big feature film such as Batman or Spiderman, or even take a role as the goalie in the Mighty Ducks series. Even if he becomes a movie star one day, Beckett says he will always make time to play hockey.

Home Ice Feature

Volunteer Spotlight - Karyn Fanstone & Tony Jacbosen

RED DEER - To celebrate National Volunteer Week, Hockey Alberta is shining the spotlight on a handful of volunteers who make a huge impact on the sport in Alberta.

More volunteer profiles can be found on Hockey Alberta’s Volunteer Appreciation page.

Karyn Fanstone - Brooks

Hockey Alberta NewsAlthough hockey is already a full-time job for Karyn Fanstone, she still takes the time to give back to the game any chance she can get.

Since moving to Alberta from Manitoba in 2015, Karyn has been heavily involved in hockey in the province as both an Athletic Therapist and Equipment Manager. She is currently the Athletic Therapist for the Brooks Bandits of the Alberta Junior Hockey League, a position she’s held since 2017, and previously worked for the Drayton Valley Thunder and the Bonnyville Pontiacs.

Karyn has also been an avid volunteer with Hockey Alberta since 2015, having been a part of the Team Alberta program in just about every capacity. She’s served as an Athletic Therapist at all three Team Alberta events: the Alberta Cup, Alberta Challenge, and Prospects Cup, as well as with Team Alberta U16 Male on numerous occasions. Her work with the U16 program includes back-to-back WHL Cup Championships in 2015 and 2016, and a bronze medal the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer.

She has also volunteered at the Team Alberta U18 Female Summer Camp, leaving serving as Athletic Therapist for a competition on the female side as the only checkmark missing from Karyn’s Team Alberta bucket list.

“I thought it would be a good opportunity to kind of get my name out with hockey (in Alberta),” she said. “Ever since my first camp, my hockey family has grown exponentially, and getting to work with kids, and be a part of their process as they develop and accomplish their goals, as cheesy as it sounds, it’s an indescribable feeling.”

Karyn said even though her initial reason for volunteering was to network and get a feel for the game in Alberta, it’s become so much more than that for her.

“Volunteering is the opportunity to do what I absolutely love, and use that to help others reach their goals,” said Karyn. “I had lots people when I was up-and-coming and still in school who took that extra time to mentor me to make sure I felt comfortable with what I was doing and learning, and to be able to be that person for other people is my goal.”

Tony Jacobsen - Grande Prairie

Hockey Alberta NewsAnthony (Tony) Jacobsen has been a committed volunteer in Grande Prairie since 2011.

Tony has coached all levels of minor hockey over the last 10 years, from U7 to U15. The relationships and connections that Tony has built are what he enjoys most about coaching.

“It’s a pretty cool learning experience overall,” said Tony. “There are a lot of people that you’re dealing with like parents, other teams, coaches, and dealing with a lot of kids. I would say volunteering is a great learning experience for anybody.”

The Jacobsens are a big hockey family with three kids playing with Grande Prairie Minor Hockey and Deunne, Tony’s wife, coaching on the female side. During his time coaching, Tony is proud to have been able to see his players grow and develop.

“You know what’s really rewarding? Recently I was on the ice with the U15 group. These are kids that are my kid’s age and I coached them back in novice, and when I watch them skate around, all of them can skate better than I can and all of them are playing heads up high-level hockey. That’s really cool when you had a little tiny hand in that,” said Tony.

Tony won the Grande Prairie Minor Hockey Association (GPMHA) Recreation Coach of the Year in 2016 and continues to serve the community as a coach in Grande Prairie.

Home Ice Feature

Volunteer Spotlight - Tom O’Toole & Chris Williams

RED DEER - To celebrate National Volunteer Week, Hockey Alberta is shining the spotlight on a handful of volunteers who make a huge impact on the sport in Alberta.

More volunteer profiles can be found on Hockey Alberta’s Volunteer Appreciation page.

Tom O’Toole - Okotoks

Hockey Alberta NewsAs a former professional hockey player, Tom O’Toole knows the importance of giving back to the game, and has been doing just that for over 40 years.

Once his pro career ended, Tom wanted to stay connected to the game, and to give back and share his knowledge about the game.

“One of the (reasons) was to help kids understand the game,” he said. “And to me, it wasn’t about the game in itself, I just wanted to share some of my ideas, and I had a lot of people help me along the way so I figured I owed that to the kids to teach (them).”

Tom’s coaching career began by running goalie clinics in Okotoks on a volunteer basis. He also has served as an Assistant Coach at the Midget AA and AAA, and Bantam AA and AAA levels throughout Southern Alberta, along with Peewee and Bantam teams on the female side. He currently serves as the goalie coach for the U16 AAA team in Okotoks.

The passion for volunteering throughout the hockey community is common in the O’Toole family; two of Tom’s daughters have a key roles in Minor Hockey in Alberta, one is a coach and the other is a physical trainer.

“If anyone is looking to do it, any aspiration; if you want to coach try to coach, it’s really rewarding,” Tom said.

Chris Williams - Okotoks

Volunteer Appreciation - Chris WilliamsChris Williams has volunteered with Okotoks Minor Hockey Association as a coach for nearly a decade.

His coaching career began in 2004 as an assistant coach with the Timbits program. Chris then took a 10-year hiatus to establish his career and family, but his passion for the game brought him back to coaching in 2014.

Chris believes in giving back to the community.

“I’m a huge believer that young kids need guidance, not just from parents or teachers, but they need it from coaches and other mentors,” he said. “It’s kind of an honour to be one of those people who get to jump in.”

Between 2014 and 2018, Chris served as the Head Coach of the Midget AA team in Okotoks, as an assistant coach for the Midget AAA team in 2019, and currently serves as the Head Coach of the U16 AAA team.

Chris is also a high school teacher in Okotoks, and said while there are many similarities between coaching and teaching, they are definitely not the same.

“There’s Coach Chris at the rink and there is Mr. Williams at school. I have to act professionally in both settings but there’s a difference,” he said. “You’re a bit looser at the rink, you can be a bit more buddy-buddy, but while you’re at school, you’re a professional. It’s what you do, but it really helps you see the different sides of the kids.”