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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

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

15 Albertans Crack the NHL Central Scouting "Players to Watch" List

RED DEER - NHL Central Scouting has released its October "Players to Watch" list, with 15 Albertans making an appearance.

One Albertan skater is listed an "A" prospect; forward Matt Savoie.

Albertan forwards, Josh Davies and Rieger Lorenz and one defenceman, Kent Anderson crack the list in the "B" prospect category, with 11 more listed as "C" prospects.

The "A" rating indicates a first round candidate, a "B" rating indicates a second or third round candidate, and a "C" rating indicates a fourth, fifth, or sixth round candidate.

The full list of Albertans named to the Players to Watch list can be found below:

Name Position Team League
A Prospects
Matt Savoie Forward Winnipeg Ice WHL
B Prospects
Kent Anderson Defence Green Bay Gamblers USHL
Josh Davies Forward Swift Current Broncos WHL
Rieger Lorenz Forward Okotoks Oilers AJHL
C Prospects
Cale Ashcroft Defence Sherwood Park Crusaders AJHL
Keaton Dowhaniuk Defence Prince George Cougars WHL
Jagger Firkus Forward Moose Jaw Warriors WHL
Jordan Gustafson Forward Seattle Thunderbirds WHL
Ben Hemmerling Forward Everett Silvertips WHL
Dylan James Forward Sioux City USHL
Marcus Nguyen Forward Portland Winterhawks WHL
Reid Schaefer Forward Seattle Thunderbirds WHL
Bowden Singleton Forward Okotoks Oilers AJHL
Kai Uchacz Forward Red Deer Rebels WHL
Charlie Wright Defence Saskatoon Blades WHL

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

Hockey Canada Unveils Online 50/50 Draw, Presented by DynaLIFE Medical Labs, for 2021 IIHF Women’s World Championship

CALGARY, Alta. – With five pre-tournament games set to face off today ahead of the 2021 IIHF Women’s World Championship, plans have been unveiled for fans in Alberta and across Canada to be part of the event.

Hockey Canada, in partnership with the Hockey Alberta Foundation, is encouraging fans to win big, give big with the 2021 IIHF Women’s World Championship online 50/50 draw, presented by DynaLIFE Medical Labs, during every Team Canada game day starting August 20 and including the quarterfinals, semifinals and medal-round games. Fans in Alberta can purchase tickets for a 48-hour period starting at 9 a.m. MT the day before a Team Canada game for as low as $5 by visiting On August 20 and 31, tickets can be purchased from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. MT only.

“Following the success of the online 50/50 draw during the IIHF World Junior Championship in December and January, Hockey Canada is once again excited to offer an online 50/50 draw during every Team Canada game day at the 2021 IIHF Women’s World Championship,” said Dean McIntosh, vice-president of events and properties with Hockey Canada. “As fans in Alberta tune in to watch Team Canada compete for a gold medal on home ice, they also have a chance to engage with the tournament and support the Hockey Canada Foundation and Hockey Alberta Foundation. When fans purchase 50/50 tickets, they are helping make hockey more by creating opportunities for girls and women to build more friendships, inspire more diversity and launch their hockey dreams.”

The winners of each 50/50 draw will take home half of the pot, while the other half will remain in the Province of Alberta and will be reinvested into grassroots hockey programs that enable more girls and women to get involved in the sport and help improve their quality of life through hockey.

In addition to the 50/50 draw, Hockey Canada also announced the Team Canada game-worn jersey auction will launch on August 26.

The online jersey auction, which runs from August 26-September 1, is an opportunity for fans across Canada to bid on game-worn jerseys of all 25 Canadian athletes wearing the Maple Leaf the 2021 IIHF Women’s World Championship. All game-worn jerseys can be viewed and bid on at, with proceeds from the auction going to the Hockey Canada Foundation to help grow the game through initiatives like Hockey is Hers, which helps provide more opportunities for girls and women in hockey.

“Young boys and girls across Canada will be inspired by the best players in the world competing for a gold medal in Calgary, and the Hockey Canada Foundation is able to help fuel that inspiration through initiatives like the game-worn jersey auction and Hockey is Hers,” said Donna Iampieri, executive director of the Hockey Canada Foundation. “The auction is not only a great way for fans to own a piece of hockey history and support their favourite National Women’s Team player, but it also helps the Hockey Canada Foundation provide more opportunities for young girls and women to get involved in the game at the grassroots level.”

The 2021 IIHF Women’s World Championship begins August 20 with three games, including Team Canada’s tournament-opener against Finland at 6 p.m. ET/3 p.m. PT. TSN and RDS, the official broadcast partners of Hockey Canada, will have extensive game coverage and analysis throughout the tournament. TSN will broadcast all 31 games from WinSport Arena, as well as three pre-tournament games on August 18, while RDS will broadcast all Team Canada preliminary-round games, two quarterfinals, both semifinals and the bronze and gold medal games.

For more information on Hockey Canada and the 2021 IIHF Women’s World Championship, please visit or follow along through social media on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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.”

Home Ice Feature

Volunteer Spotlight - Lisa Davies & Tom West

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.

Lisa Davies - St. Paul

Hockey Alberta NewsLisa Davies has done it all as a volunteer over the past 22 years.

Whether it’s being a billet mom, volunteering at the Canada Winter Games or at a provincial championship - both around St. Paul and with Hockey Alberta - Lisa is well-known around the community and the region.

At the provincial level with Hockey Alberta, Lisa serves as the Minor Administration committee member for the Northeast Region. In that role, she assists minor hockey associations with registration processes, completes team and player approvals, and player transfers in HCR.

She also has been involved with junior hockey. Previously, she served as president of the St. Paul Canadiens Junior B team for eight seasons, and now she is the vice president in charge of discipline the North Eastern Alberta Junior B Hockey League (NEAJBHL).

Lisa said the sense of community she gains, and shares through volunteering is what keeps her going.

"You get to meet new people, you get to network, and you get to learn new skills," she said. "It makes me happy.”

Although she couldn’t pin down just one, she said her favourite memories come from events like the Canada Winter Games, World Junior A Challenge, and Hockey Alberta Provincial Championships.

“You know they’re all having fun, they’re excited to be there, and they have reached their goal," she said. "So it always fun to see those happy faces.”

Lisa also volunteers outside of hockey, helping out with minor baseball, Skate Alberta and a variety of school programs.

It is the lifelong connection to the players in the game that keeps Lisa involved.

I was a billet mom for five years. They still call me mom, they still call if they need anything,” Lisa said.

Tom West - Grande Prairie

Hockey Alberta NewsA dedicated volunteer, Tom West has served the community of Grande Prairie for more than a decade.

Tom began coaching in Fort St. John in 1999, but, after three years, went on hiatus once he and his wife started a family.

He re-joined the coaching world in 2010 in Grande Prairie at just about every level, and also served as the Manager for the Midget U16 AAA team.

Tom has been on the Board of Directors for Grande Prairie Minor Hockey since 2015, and, on top of his coaching and board positions, Tom also gets some extra ice time in as an official.

He began officiating in 2014, and since then, has worked every level of hockey up to Junior A/B, and Senior in the Grande Prairie area.

Tom said no matter what role he is serving, he makes sure to bring a positive attitude, and dedicate as much of his time and possible to the organization.

"Whether it’s a development team where kids are just learning to skate, or a AA or AAA team that is well on their way, to have the right attitude and kind of re-focus and bring it down to their level whatever age or whatever level that is, and work with them,” he said.

For Tom, volunteering is his favourite way to give back to the community.

"I know a lot of people say that, but for me, I enjoy seeing the operation and opportunity to guide and grow," he said. "Whether it’s someone my own age or in hockey, usually someone younger, watching them grow and develop as a person and a player and expand their knowledge and improve their skill set."

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

Hockey gives back across Alberta

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

CAC United Sport and Cycle U16 AAA

Hockey Alberta News

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

Calgary Northstars

Hockey Alberta News

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

Fort Saskatchewan U13 AA Rangers

Hockey Alberta News

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

Fort Saskatchewan U13 Team 1 Rangers

Hockey Alberta News

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

Fort Saskatchewan U13 Team 3 Rangers

Hockey Alberta News

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

Girls Hockey Calgary

Hockey Alberta News

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

Hanna U9 and U18 Colts

Hockey Alberta News

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

KC Centennials U16 AAA

Hockey Alberta News

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

KC Squires U15 AAA

Hockey Alberta News

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

Lethbridge Val Matteoti Golden Hawks

Hockey Alberta News

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

Lloydminster NAI U11 Tier 1

Hockey Alberta News

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

Lloydminster U13 Blazers City 5

Hockey Alberta News

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

Maple Leaf Athletic Club

Hockey Alberta News

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

Red Deer U11 RCM Transport Renegades

Hockey Alberta News

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

Spruce Grove U7 Flying Unicorns

Hockey Alberta News

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

Home Ice Feature

Moving mountains for Mighty Max

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Home Ice Feature

Lest We Forget

COLD LAKE – At Remembrance Day ceremonies across the country today, Canadians pause to remember those who have served, and continue to serve, our country.

For Captain Daniel Deluce, a pilot in the Royal Canadian Air Force stationed at CFB Cold Lake, Remembrance Day takes on special meaning for himself and his family.

“My grandpa was in the Air Force as well, he was a fighter pilot in World War II,” said Capt. Deluce. “If I can get airborne and go for a flight (on Remembrance Day), I will try to do that. That’s the best way for me to kind of put myself in my grandpa’s shoes.”

In fact, Remembrance Day this year holds special significance for Capt. Deluce because he recently received his grandfather’s service records.

“This year’s pretty cool. I’ve spent the last two years applying to get my grandpa’s records, and they just came in yesterday (November 5), so I got a little piece of history there,” said Capt. Deluce. “And my mom, her uncle was in the Army, and she just sent me a letter he had written to his girlfriend at the time. So, just finding ways to learn a bit more about what people were going through back then, and it is pretty interesting, and something very unique to those time periods.”

In addition to serving as a pilot for approximately 10 years, Capt. Deluce is also a part of the hockey community in Cold Lake, where the sport is a big part of life for not only himself, but for many individuals stationed at the base.

“Flying and playing hockey, it’s the two things I really like to do, so it’s nice to have the opportunity to do both,” Capt. Deluce said. “Normally, we have intramurals on the base, so between the different units, we’ll have hockey teams playing each other. That’s a nice way to just let loose a bit, and de-stress. Our jobs can be a little stressful sometimes.”

For Capt. Deluce, he is actively involved in the sport in several capacities. He plays in the intramural league at the base. He regularly dons the stripes, officiating in the intramural leagues, as well as games in the community. And he coaches – the CFB Cold Lake women’s team that competes at the national championship, and helping out with his daughter’s U7 team in Cold Lake.

“It’s a little difficult sometimes with our jobs, we deploy or we go away quite a bit,” he said. “So, I may not be able to be a full-time coach, but maybe an assistant coach is something I’d like to get involved in.”

For Capt. Deluce, hockey is a great way to get to know people in the community, and to unwind – especially with the stress that comes with flying high-performance airplanes.

“As an Officer, I play with a lot of the mechanics, and different support trades,” he said. “We’ll play against the Fire Hall and others, so you get to know people around the base as well, so it’s a bit of a networking thing. You might walk to your plane, and the person who’s helping you start, it’s like ‘oh, he was your right D the other night’, so it makes the squadron a little more personal.”

With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Capt. Deluce said the squadron won’t necessarily be observing Remembrance Day in its traditional fashion.

“Usually, we’re having some sort of parade, so this year it might be a little different.” He said. “It might be more of the command team in a smaller ceremony laying wreaths.”

For Capt. Deluce, the key on November 11 is honouring not only those individuals who served in World War I or World War, but anyone who has served, and continues to serve our country.

“It doesn’t have to be WWI or WWII. There’s lots of things in between, or people currently serving, as well as any kind of front-line people. Especially this year with the pandemic, some of those people in the hospitals, or the first responders, those are going to be people you keep in mind.”

Home Ice Feature

Photos provided by the Ikebuchi family

Hockey community rallies around Springbank family

In the wake of the sudden and tragic loss of a long time Springbank coach and volunteer, the hockey community is once again proving just how powerful the game can be.

On October 13, Justin Ikebuchi was involved in a fatal car crash. In the days and weeks following, his wife, Jamie, and children Sydney, Raiden, Calder and Devin have seen the entire hockey community rally around them and show their support

“They check in on us, constantly check in on us,” said Jamie. “They’ve supported us with meals, with texts and emails, and small things, like the doorbell will ring and there will be a latte there for me. We’ve had little gifts and quite large gifts given to us. It’s pretty overwhelming overall, but in a good way; all of these gestures of kindness have really helped give us strength as we move through these last few weeks.”

Hockey Alberta NewsCoaching and volunteering was a huge part of Justin’s life. With Raiden (13), Calder (11) and Devin (9) all playing minor hockey, Justin was heavily involved as a coach, and as a member of the the Springbank Minor Hockey Association (SMHA) Board of Directors. He was the SMHA Timbits (U7) Coordinator for five years, and was the VP of Hockey for the last two.

“I know that he gave back because he truly enjoyed his experience as a child growing up getting to play sports, and he wanted to make sure he gave back like people did for him,” Jamie said.

Justin’s influence on the game is unmistakable, as seen by the lasting impression he left as a coach.

“He was definitely known as the coach with the red helmet and the red gloves, and he was the one who told (the players) all of the time to play hard and have fun,” Jamie said. “He wanted them to love the game as much as he loved the game, and he wanted them to not just love the game, but he wanted them to love being part of a team, because he felt like being part of a team and being a good teammate was a life skill.”

“Dad was the best coach,” said Raiden, Justin’s eldest son. “He was always very positive. The game wasn’t always about being the best to him, but working towards being the best. He wanted me to play hockey because I loved it, not because he wanted me to love it. That’s just kind of who he was.”

Raiden’s teammate, Jack McHarg, echoed that sentiment, and said Justin’s number-one goal was to make sure hockey was fun for everyone.

“He always came to practice with a smile,” he said. “With four kids, he always made our practices, he was very committed to the game, and he always made sure, even if we lost a game, he made us hold our heads up high, and he always made us feel good at the end of the day.”

Justin’s impact as a coach reached far beyond just the players, as the coaches he’s shared the ice with over the years speak very fondly of his coaching style and personality.

"Justin was a fantastic coach; he was always there for the boys and always there for the right reasons,” said Jack’s father, David McHarg, Justin’s co-coach and a family friend. “I think just because he loved the game so much, he wanted to add to it. Whether it was at an administration level within the Springbank Minor Hockey Association, or as a coach, or even just as a helper on the ice, a parent in the box, or doing anything, he was always there supporting everyone along the way - parents, players, coaches. It was all for the game.”

Hockey Alberta News

Cory Larson, another of Justin’s co-coaches and a family friend, said Justin’s personality was infectious.

“I felt like he was the guy that was on the ice in practice, wherever he was, the kids sort of gravitated towards him” he said. “If they weren’t in a drill, they’d be over talking to him, and he was that guy that could be that supportive, fun-loving guy that was out there making sure everybody had a good time, all the time.”

Jonathan Black, also a co-coach and family friend, said Justin’s coaching style was a lot more than just drawing up plays on a clipboard.

“What he did better than most people was the relationship piece,” he said. “I would be at a tournament getting medals ready and handing things out, and he’s the guy who’s talking to each individual kid as they’re waiting, where typically coaches might just stand around. He coupled the idea of a real coach trying to improve the kids and teach them how to play a team sport, but also that relationship piece, which was so important with kids understanding and believing what he had to say.”

Brent Merchant, who coached alongside Justin for over six years and also became a family friend, said his commitment as a volunteer was something to behold.

“For most parents, it’s maybe a little intimidating just to jump in with both feet and commit to being a huge volunteer,” he said. “I think for Justin, it just came naturally; he was just was part of that Springbank hockey community from day one. Whether it was in a coaching role, or as part of the board of directors, he just seemed to kind of jump in with both feet, which you can appreciate - that’s not easy to do with the amount of energy and time it takes.”

Nicole Kraljic, the SMHA’s administrator, worked closely with Justin as a volunteer, and said the time and effort he put in to improving the game will have a positive effect on the association for years to come.

“He leaves behind the framework, of which we are working on still to this day at the board level, of our coaches, and doing our coach credentials, and keeping a legacy of information for our coaches and training them, and that’s something that his fingerprints will be all over when we’re done developing it,” she said. “Justin did everything with thought and purpose;. When he finalized a roster, he was always thinking about the player and their potential development, and that was every player.”

While the shockwave of Justin’s sudden passing hit Springbank hard, it was also felt around the entire hockey community. On October 20, in Raiden’s first game back with the NWCAA U15 AA Bronks, he scored a goal. In fitting fashion, it was the team’s eighth goal of the game - which just happens to be Justin’s favourite number.

“A very emotional night obviously for the boys, to have Raiden there and back with the group, and Jamie and her family in the stands,” said David McHarg. “It was emotional just being there, but also just to see him score that eighth goal, and with that being his dad’s favourite number, it was just extra special.”

Hockey Alberta News

While Raiden’s entire team celebrated the emotional moment with him, the members of the CNHA Kings came together with the Bronks at the end of the game and raised their sticks in honour of Justin and his family.

“After we beat them, they still had the respect to do something like that,” Raiden said. “You battle it out on the ice, but after it’s all said and done, you’re all playing for the same reason, because you love what you do, and there’s a lot of respect there.”

In that game, the entire team also sported red tape on their sticks (Justin’s favourite colour), as well as Justin’s initials in red on their helmets - which Raiden said was done by all NWCAA U15 AA teams.

In the days following the game, Raiden’s touching story made its way around social media, and caught the attention of the entire hockey community, including the Calgary Flames. On October 28, two of the Flames - Milan Lucic and captain Mark Giordano - surprised Raiden and his teammates at practice.

Hockey Alberta News“Those guys are his heroes,” Jamie said. “What I thought was pretty awesome was that those men came to talk to my son, and they asked if it was okay if they spoke about their own personal loss, because both of them have lost loved ones tragically. They left their families for the day to come and speak to a boy, and it was a sad situation - it’s hard to talk to people who have lost someone, but they chose to do that.”

“That was very special,” said Raiden. “I was super surprised, I had no idea. I heard a couple of the boys saying that some of the Flames were being interviewed outside, but I didn’t think anything of it. Those guys have been my heroes; I’ve been a fan of Lucic since he won the (Stanley) Cup with Boston.”

Giordano and Lucic both said Raiden’s story hits very close to home for them, so they were more than happy to take the time to show their support. For Giordano, his sister died in a car crash at the age of 14. Lucic experienced the sudden death of his father.

“It’s never something that’s easy to deal with,” said Lucic. “Just to be here to support him is the least that I can do, and we can do as far as the Flames organization, happy to be here supporting him through a time like this.

Jamie added the gesture was especially touching because the impact went beyond the family.

“They got on the ice and practiced with the team. So the whole team got to have that experience, it was pretty awesome for them to have that bonding experience together, so I thought that was pretty great of those gentlemen,” she said.

As for the outpouring of support the Ikebuchi family has received, Giordano said he’s not surprised to see the hockey community come together in the face of tragedy.

“I’ve been playing hockey now for a long, long time, and the support we receive from family, friends, community - it’s second to none,” Giordano said. “When I was a young kid and had some tragedy in my life, one of the biggest things that helped me get through was coming to the rink and being with my buddies and teammates.”

And Jamie knows that hockey will be a key part of the recovery process for her three boys.

For Raiden, hockey has been his passion since he was three, and Jamie was concerned he would have a hard time going to hockey, because his dad was such a big part of the game for him.

Calder is a defenceman, whose love of hockey has developed over time, and it’s important to Jamie that he continues to enjoy the sport.

Hockey Alberta News

“Devin is the happiest little hockey player you have ever seen,” she said. “So, my hope for him, because he said this weekend that hockey is not fun without his dad, that dad is what makes hockey fun, my hope is that he’ll find joy with hockey again.”

And Justin will not be forgotten within the local hockey community, as Springbank has named its yearly volunteer of the year award after him.

“Whether it was community members or friends, the outpouring of commitment from people was unreal. But what impresses me is that commitment that they have today, I think this is going to be for years down the road,” said Brent Merchant.

Jamie said the ongoing support their family has seen from the hockey community goes beyond what words can express.

“It’s very overwhelming, but in a good way. I love my husband, and I love him as a dad, and he touched so many people in our Springbank Minor Hockey community, and they are really helping us get through this very devastating and tragic time,” she said. ”There’s this life question Justin and I have talked about - in life, do you get what you get, or do you get what you give? He would say you get what you give, and I now know that to be true, and you get more.”

Home Ice Feature

Photos courtesy Jake Neighbour’s Instagram page

Jake Neighbours and Ozzy Wiesblatt - A First Round Friendship

For a pair of best friends whose hockey journeys have been nearly identical, it’s only fitting they were both selected just five picks apart at the 2020 NHL Entry Draft in October.

When Jake Neighbours and Ozzy Wiesblatt were drafted 26th overall and 31st overall by the St. Louis Blues and San Jose Sharks, respectively, it was not only a tremendous moment for each athlete, but a chance to celebrate each other’s accomplishments.

The two have been nearly inseparable since first hitting the ice together with the Calgary U18 AAA Buffaloes in 2017, and have been a big part of each other’s hockey experiences. Getting to share in each other’s big moment was a familiar, but welcome feeling.

"To go through all these experiences with your best friend is definitely something you cherish," Neighbours said during a recent interview where he and Wiesblatt joined the Centre Ice Podcast.

Whether it was suiting up together for Team Alberta at the 2017 WHL Cup in Calgary, for Team Canada at the 2019 Hlinka Gretzky Cup, or for Team Red at the 2020 CHL/NHL Top Prospects game, Neighbours and Wiesblatt have spent plenty of time together on hockey’s biggest stages.

But, they’ve also been on opposing sides of centre ice a number of times, including at the 2017 Alberta Cup, the 2018 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, and for the last two seasons in the Western Hockey League, with Neighbours a member of the Edmonton Oil Kings, and Wiesblatt with the Prince Albert Raiders.

Although they both admitted there was a bit of a competition to see who would be selected first, the pair agree that it was just a minor detail.

"I was lucky enough to see Jake get picked ahead of me," Wiesblatt said. "I’m happy for him, and it just about brought a little tear to my eye seeing him get picked, it was a special moment for him and his family. We’re competitive, but also very supportive at the same time."

Neighbours echoed that sentiment, adding that he and his family were almost more excited to hear Wiesblatt’s named called by the San Jose Sharks a few picks later.

"I think both of us were kind of hoping we’d be the one to (be drafted) higher, but we knew going into it that we’d probably be pretty close in terms of numbers and where we were going, so we were happy for each other," Neighbours said. "I remember when I found out Ozzy was going, it was almost a bigger reaction from my family and I than when I went, so we have very supportive families, and obviously going in both directions we’re happy for each other."

Although the two have only been close friends since first playing together for the Calgary Buffaloes as 15 year-olds, they’ve leaned on each other heavily for support, a relationship they both point to as a major key to their success both on and off the ice.

"It’s special," said Wiesblatt. "We’ve been through basically everything together with hockey. If it’s Team Alberta events or Team Canada events, we’re going through it together, so it’s definitely made it easier to have someone to talk to and go through it with."

Neighbours said the two maintain a close relationship during the season, but there are times where their competitive nature outweighs their friendship.

"We lean on each other for support, but we are competitors," Neighbours said. "After every game, we’re always texting each other, seeing how each other did. But, I don’t think (Prince Albert) versus Edmonton’s been the friendliest of games over the past couple of years, it’s been two of the top teams in the Eastern Conference going at it, so it’s always a good game with a lot of intensity, and we tend to lean towards our intense and competitive sides more than our friendship during those games."

But, Wiesblatt adds that the competitiveness between the two is a welcome addition, and is a big reason for his success.

"Having a best friend and someone you train with every day that pushes you, I think we can both say we’re very lucky to have that," said Wiesblatt. "It’s been awesome. I haven’t really had a friend that is as competitive as Jake is, and that wants to beat me in every single thing, so it’s fun, and it’s definitely shaped me into the person I am today."

While the two have been through more together in the last few years than many friendships will see in a lifetime, Neighbours looks back fondly on when it all started, and said he can’t wait to see what the future holds.

"We started talking when we were about 13 or 14, I think, and we finally got to meet each other at the Calgary Buffaloes tryouts, and I guess the rest is history. We just kind of hit it off right away, and basically did everything together, and I became this guy’s Uber. Proud to be it though, and I’m looking forward to more Uber rides."

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Photo credit: LA Media

Alberta well-represented in NHL Central Scouting’s Players to Watch list

RED DEER - NHL Central Scouting has released its October ’Players to Watch’ list, with 18 Albertans making an appearance.

Two Albertan skaters are listed as ’A’ prospects; defenceman Corson Ceulemans and forward Dylan Guenther.

Goaltender Sebastian Cossa the lone Albertan in the ’B’ prospect category, with fifteen more listed as ’C’ prospects.

The ‘A’ rating indicates a first round candidate, a ‘B’ rating indicates a second or third round candidate, and a ‘C’ rating indicates a fourth, fifth, or sixth round candidate.

The full list of Albertans named to the Players to Watch list can be found below:

Name Position Team League
A Prospects
Corson Ceulemans Defence Brooks Bandits AJHL
Dylan Guenther Forward Edmonton Oil Kings WHL
B Prospects
Sebastian Cossa Goaltender Edmonton Oil Kings WHL
C Prospects
Talyn Boyko Goaltender Tri-City Americans WHL
Lucas Ciona Forward Seattle Thunderbirds WHL
Colton Dach Forward Saskatoon Blades WHL
Jayden Grubbe Forward Red Deer Rebels WHL
Dru Krebs Defence Medicine Hat Tigers WHL
Marc Lajoie Defence Tri-City Americans WHL
Kyle Masters Defence Red Deer Rebels WHL
Brett Moravec Forward Calgary Canucks AJHL
Ty Mueller Forward Sherwood Park Crusaders AJHL
Zack Ostapchuk Forward Vancouver Giants WHL
Zack Stringer Forward Lethbridge Hurricanes WHL
Scout Truman Forward Des Moines Buccaneers USHL
Sean Tschigerl Forward Calgary Hitmen WHL
Kai Uchacz Forward Seaatle Thunderbirds WHL
Olen Zellweger Defence Everett Silvertips WHL

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Photos: LA Media/WHL

Alberta’s Kaiden Guhle gearing up for 2020 NHL Draft

When NHL Central Scouting released its final rankings in April, 24 Albertans appeared on the list - 20 skaters, and four goaltenders.

Among those is Team Alberta alumnus and Prince Albert Raiders defenceman, Kaiden Guhle, who came in at number eight among North American skaters, and is projected by many to be drafted in the first round.

On the eve of the NHL draft, Guhle said the nerves hadn’t quite kicked in yet.

“I think I’m just a lot more excited, than anything," he said. "Waited a long time for this, got pushed back a bit, and I think I can speak for every kid in saying we’re just happy to finally have it here and to get things started.The nerves are there, but right now I’m not feeling them a whole lot. I bet (Tuesday) when I wake up, getting up early and waiting the whole day for it to happen, I’m sure the nerves will come pretty strong, but right now I think my mom’s a lot more nervous than me."

The 2020 NHL Draft will have a much different look than any other draft. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s draft will be done virtually, much like the 2020 NFL Draft.

Guhle said that although it’s disappointing not to be in Montreal as originally planned, he’s looking forward to sharing the experience at home with family and friends.

"I think in a way, it works out," he said. "I know if I was going to Montreal, you could only bring a handful of family members, you don’t want to pack the whole thing. I’m having 15 people coming to my house (on Tuesday), so I’ll have a lot of people there who have supported me through my whole hockey career."

Guhle adds that the pre-draft process has also been quite different than normal, but it’s still been a memorable experience for him.

"It was a lot of virtual meetings, a lot of Zoom calls," he said. "Obviously, you’d like to meet the teams in person, if we were in Montreal, I’d maybe meet a couple teams right before for one last chat. It’s been a big honour to talk to a lot of those teams, you never know who you’re going to go to, so I want to leave a good impression on all of them and show them my personality and what type of person I am."

The Guhle family is familiar with the NHL Draft process, as Kaiden’s older brother Brendan was drafted 51st overall by the Buffalo Sabres in 2015.

Guhle said the influence of his brother, who now plays for the Anaheim Ducks, has been critical to his growth as a player.

"He’s been massive," he said. "I’d be lying if I said he wasn’t the biggest reason (I started playing), he’s the reason I picked up a hockey stick. Watching him growing up, I’ve always wanted to follow his footsteps in that way. He’s been huge for my hockey career, he’s talked to me a lot about this whole draft process – the ups and the downs, teams maybe getting under your skin to see how you react, just trying to keep me level-headed though the whole thing."

Guhle isn’t the only member of the Prince Albert Raiders hailing from Alberta waiting to hear their name called at the draft, as teammate Ozzy Wiesblatt is also expected to be drafted.

"I’ll definitely text him during the draft," Guhle said. "We’ve definitely talked about it and leaned on each other, we’ve been communicating a lot about this. I think there’s a bit of friendly competition, we’re both pretty competitive guys. We like to go at it at practice, and like to make each other mad – we both compete very hard, we both want to make each other better and that’s the only way you’re going to do it. I’ll definitely shoot him a text and see how he is on draft day, I’m sure he’ll be pretty nervous, just like me, so it’s good to get to go through that with him, and get to go through the whole experience with one of my best buddies."

Although it’s easy for a player to speculate as to which team they could end up on, Guhle said he’s not focused on that, and is going to just sit back and enjoy the ride.

"I’m happy with whatever team picks me, I have no preference to where I go," he said. "I think any team that picks me, I am very lucky to be that pick."

Round one of the 2020 NHL Draft kicks off Tuesday night at 5:00 p.m., with rounds two through seven to be held on Wednesday, starting at 9:30 a.m.

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Photo credit: LA Media

Ten Albertans to attend Canada’s National U17 Development Camp

CALGARY - Ten Albertans are among the 113 players invited to Canada’s National Under-17 Development Camp in July.

Defenceman Keaton Dowhaniuk, along with forwards Nate Danielson, Josh Davies, Jordan Gustafson, Reiger Lorenz, Rylen Roersma, Matthew Savoie, Bowden Singleton, Oasiz Wiesblatt and Koehn Ziemmer will all take part in the virtual camp.

The camp runs July 19-25, with a variety of sessions focusing on player development through online education.

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Seven Albertans invited to Canada’s National Women’s Program Summer Camps

CALGARY - Seven Albertans are among the 109 female athletes invited to the BFL Canada National Women’s Development Team and National Women’s Under-18 team summer camps.

Hockey Canada has announced a pool of 109 of the country’s top young players invited to participate in a pair of virtual camps with Canada’s National Women’s Program.

Goaltender Sophie Lajeunesse (Calgary), blueliner Dayle Ross (Spirit River), and forwards Kyle Perry (Ponoka) and Sarah Wozniewicz (Cochrane) will attend the BFL National Women’s Under-18 Team Summer Camp. Wozniewicz is one of three players who won a silver medal with Team Canada at the 2020 IIHF U18 Women’s Championship.

As for the BFL Canada National Women’s Development Team Summer Camp, defender Stephanie Markowski and forwards Kassy Betinol and Danielle Serdachny are among the 59 players invited.

Former Team Alberta coach Howie Draper (Edmonton) is on staff as Head Coach of the U18 team, while Mel Davidson (Oyen) returns as Head Scout for the program.

As the virtual meetings progress through the summer, the athletes will cover topics that include at-home strength and conditioning plans, mental performance plans and check-ins, nutrition, dry-land skills, skating simulations, team-building activities, short-term international competition preparation and meetings with coaches.

The online sessions will take place up to twice weekly, with critical information being communicated to athletes to allow them to continue to evolve as high-performance athletes in this new environment, and will utilize the strengths and experience of Canada’s National Women’s Program leadership to help connect one-on-one, athlete-to-athlete.

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Photo credit: LA Media

Eight Albertans invited to Canada’s National Junior Team Summer Development Camp

CALGARY - Eight Albertans are among the 41 players invited to Canada’s virtual National Junior Team Sport Chek Summer Development Camp.

Sebastian Cossa (Fort McMurray) and Taylor Gauthier (Calgary) are among the five goaltenders invited to the camp. Defencemen Bowen Byram (Lethbridge/Cranbrook), Kaiden Guhle (Sherwood Park) and Matthew Robertson received invites as well, along with forwards Ridly Greig (Lethbridge), Dylan Holloway (Bragg Creek) and Peyton Krebs (Okotoks).

The virtual summer camp runs July 27-31, where players will participate in a variety of sessions with a focus on player development through online education.

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Kodie Curran (second from left) with father, Jerome (far left), sister Jessica, and brother-in-law Joey. (Photo courtesy of Kodie Curran)

An unrelenting love of the game key in Curran’s journey to the NHL

Although ’follow your dreams’ is a common phrase, few people have taken that advice to heart quite like Kodie Curran.

At age 30, the Calgarian recently signed his first NHL deal with Anaheim Ducks - a two-year, one-way contract, the culmination of years of hard work, perseverance, and a seemingly unmatched love for the game.

After two productive seasons in the Swedish Hockey League, including a league MVP title this past season, the blueliner caught the eye of NHL scouts, and the Ducks announced the signing on June 1.

While Curran’s unorthodox pathway to the NHL isn’t completely unheard of, it’s certainly not the ’cookie cutter’ route that many take to hockey’s highest level.

"I think a lot adversity through my career that I’ve had to battle," said Curran of his journey so far. "Not saying that other guys don’t, but there’s late bloomers, and then there’s really late bloomers, and I was a really late bloomer. I didn’t start playing high-end hockey until maybe I was 20, and then I took a bit of a break, and really got into my element when I was about 25."

Hockey Alberta News
Kodie with his wife, Caitlin, and daughter Remi. (Photo courtesy of Kodie Curran)

Curran was certainly no stranger to adversity in his younger hockey days. After playing Bantam AAA with the Calgary Buffaloes organization, he was passed over in the WHL Bantam draft, and went on to play Midget AA (playing forward at the time), while many of his peers and former teammates were playing Midget AAA, and trending towards Major Junior hockey. Although somewhat disappointed at the time, he says it only helped push him harder.

"In Midget AA, you’re thinking ’why am I not on the AAA team, why am I not on the AAA team? Now what happens? Now I’m not going to get drafted," Curran said. "There’s so much doubt in your mind when you play in Midget AA at such a young age, but I think now kids are starting to be molded a little bit earlier to deal with that, which I think is great. I think it’s important just to remember that where ever you’re playing, you’re not the player you’re going to be in the future, down the road, so just really enjoy it, and that’s what I tried to do."

After graduating from minor hockey, Curran enjoyed a successful career in the Alberta Junior Hockey League with the Calgary Canucks and Spruce Grove Saints, winning an AJHL title with the latter in 2010. Following his junior career, Curran played five seasons for the University of Calgary Dinos, helping the team to the National Championship in 2001, and earning West First All-Star Team honours in 2014 and 2015.

Hockey Alberta NewsWhile the end of a post-secondary career could mark the last stop in a hockey player’s journey, Curran decided he wasn’t ready to give up on his dream. He signed a deal with the American Hockey League’s Hartford Wolf Pack, the New York Rangers’ top affiliate, and split time between the Wolf Pack and the Greenville Swamp Rabbits of the East Coast Hockey League. After making the difficult decision to play pro hockey in Europe, far away from his family and friends, he played in Denmark and Norway in 2016-17 and 2017-18, respectively, before landing with Rögle BK of the Swedish Hockey League.

Curran credits the overwhelming support from his family and friends as a key contributing factor to his success in Europe.

"My family has meant everything to me," he said. "When I think about this moment, and sharing it with them, words aren’t enough to explain what they mean to me. To be that far away from home over in Europe, and to constantly be on FaceTime or getting texts from your family saying ’you’re doing the right thing’, they really solidified for me that I was in the right place in my life, and what I was doing was right."

Curran certainly made the most of his time in Europe, especially his two seasons in Sweden. This past season, he put up staggering numbers for a defenceman (12 goals and 37 points in 48 games), finishing second in the league in scoring, earning the title of league MVP. Curran was the first foreign-born player to be named the SHL’s MVP since current Calgary Flame Derek Ryan, who took a similar path to the NHL, making his league debut at 29 years old.

"Last year was an amazing season," Curran said. "I ended up getting onto a team with young guys, great players, and we got hot, and it was an amazing year, one I’ll never forget."

Despite nothing ever coming easy for him, Curran says his love of the game always got him through, and kept him looking towards the future.

"As you go through your career, everyone puts a label on the teams that you should be playing for, and the things that you should be doing, and where you should be at a certain age. I think a lot of kids, and parents especially, get caught up in that, and can put a lot of pressure on their kids. I didn’t have any pressure from my parents, they really just wanted me to love the game of hockey, and I did that. And I think that’s what got me through those tough times, was just my passion for the game. I didn’t do anything that the hockey world says we ’should do’, and here I am. So I think there are other ways to do it, and I hope this shows that there are other ways to get to your dreams."

Although his hockey career has recently taken him all over the world, Curran says his time playing grassroots hockey in Alberta were vital to his development and success.

"I think what’s so great about (grassroots hockey in Alberta), is the development, and all the branch-offs that you can go into to play to have success. I always remember my roots and where I came from, I think Hockey Alberta’s done a great job in developing young kids and making sure there’s enough areas for all types of skills to play."

While he could have walked away from the game with his head held high at any point in his career, and a number of impressive accomplishments under his belt, Curran never gave up on his dream, and hopes his story can help inspire young athletes to chase theirs, and never let anyone, or anything, stop them.

"I didn’t make a single (division) one team, I think ever, I didn’t make AAA, and I was at a crossroads of whether to play forward or defence at 17 years old," he said. "For me, I always just tried to really fall in love with the game of hockey. If you don’t love it, and it’s not for you, then that’s great. But I know there’s a ton of kids out there that love the game of hockey, so let that be your inspiration, and let that be something that pushes you through these tough times, is that you love the game for its purity."

While the work isn’t quite done for Curran, as the task of earning an NHL roster spot with the Ducks still lies ahead, he says he’s looking forward to the challenge, and in the meantime, will enjoy some much-deserved rest and down time with his family.

(Third photo of Kodie with sister Jessica (left) and mom Deborah (right), courtesy of Kodie Curran)

Home Ice Feature

Stories from the Rink: Alix/Clive Minor Hockey Association highlights star volunteer

ALIX, AB - As parents arrive at the rink on frigid Saturday mornings throughout the winter, they joke to themselves about seeing Tyler Copland’s truck parked in "his spot", as he is always the first to arrive before a game. Whether it’s as a board member, coach, friend, mentor, parent, or sponsor, Tyler wears many hats in the town of Alix.

Since his boys began playing hockey with the Alix and Clive combined association, Tyler has been involved as a volunteer on different levels. He invests a great deal of time and energy into helping mentor the kids during every practice and game. When one game ends, he is typically gearing up to head to another arena to support his other son’s teams.

"Tyler has only missed a handful of practices and games over the years. His commitment is impressive, as is the message he has for the kids: just keep showing up, regardless of what struggle might be in front of you, just keep showing up," said Lori Gibson, who shared the story with Hockey Alberta. "He doesn’t tell the kids what dedication is, he lives it every day."

Tyler’s positive attitude is infectious throughout the teams he coaches. He is always quick to flash a smile and joke around with the kids, and holds nothing back when it comes to helping the players achieve their goals. Always keeping things light and fun, he loves nothing more than celebrating an accomplishment for anyone on his team whether it’s a goal, assist, win, or just a great shift.

As the first guy to the rink to open the rooms and set out the pucks, a supporter of the concessions and 50/50 draws, and yearly corporate sponsor, Tyler values the deep roots he has created in his community, and they would like to thank him for everything he has done.

If you have a great story or volunteer that you would like Hockey Alberta to highlight, please send the information to [email protected].

Home Ice Feature

2019 Alberta Cup Rewind: Championship Final - Alberta Black vs Alberta Red

RED DEER - Hockey Alberta takes a look back on the 2019 Alberta Cup, with a feature game each day from Thursday to Sunday.

Friday’s feature Alberta Cup Rewind game goes back to the B Final on Sunday, April 28, as Alberta Yellow went head-to-head with Alberta Green:

Championship Final

Alberta Red 3 - Alberta Black 1

Players of the Game: Alberta Red: #31 Ian Mills | Alberta Black: #2 Carson Brisson

Boxscore > | AB Cup Results > | AB Cup Stats >

Interview: Zach Hodder of the WHL

Home Ice Feature

2019 Alberta Cup Rewind: B Final - Alberta Yellow vs Alberta Green

RED DEER - Hockey Alberta takes a look back on the 2019 Alberta Cup, with a feature game each day from Thursday to Sunday.

Friday’s feature Alberta Cup Rewind game goes back to the B Final on Sunday, April 28, as Alberta Yellow went head-to-head with Alberta Green:

B Final

Alberta Green 10 - Alberta Yellow 2

Players of the Game: Alberta Green: #18 Bowden Singleton | Alberta Yellow: #20 Matt Savoie

Boxscore > | AB Cup Results > | AB Cup Stats >

Interview: Hockey Alberta Officials Development Coordinator Colin Watt

Home Ice Feature

2019 Alberta Cup Rewind: Game 7 - Alberta Yellow vs Alberta Blue

RED DEER - Hockey Alberta takes a look back on the 2019 Alberta Cup, with a feature game each day from Thursday to Sunday.

Friday’s feature Alberta Cup Rewind game goes back to Friday, April 26 with the Game 7 matchup between Alberta Yellow and Alberta Blue:

Game #7

Alberta Yellow 6 - Alberta Blue 4

Players of the Game: Alberta Yellow: #18 Billal Noori | Alberta Blue: #14 Ty Hurley

Boxscore > | AB Cup Results > | AB Cup Stats >

Interview: Hockey Alberta CEO Rob Litwinski

Home Ice Feature

2019 Alberta Cup Rewind: Game 4 - Alberta Black vs Alberta Grey

RED DEER - Hockey Alberta takes a look back on the 2019 Alberta Cup, with a feature game each day from Thursday to Sunday.

Thursday’s feature Alberta Cup Rewind game goes back to Thursday, April 25 with the Game 4 battle between Alberta Grey and Alberta Black:

Game #4

Alberta Black 4 - Alberta Grey 2

Players of the Game: Alberta Black: #16 Reid MacKay | Alberta Grey: #20 Koehn Ziemmer

Boxscore > | AB Cup Results > | AB Cup Stats >

Interview: Team Alberta Trainer Mentor Dave Campbell

Home Ice Feature

Photo credit: LA Media

Nine Albertans earn WHL Eastern and Western Conference honours

RED DEER/CALGARY - Alberta is once again very well-represented as the Western Hockey League (WHL) rolled out its 2019-20 Eastern and Western Conference award winners and All-Star teams.

Three WHL conference awards went to players hailing from Alberta:

Riley Fiddler-Schultz (Fort Saskatchewan), Calgary Hitmen - Eastern Conference Humanitarian of the Year
Dylan Guenther
(Edmonton), Edmonton Oil Kings - Eastern Conference Rookie of the Year
Ty Smith
(Lloydminster), Spokane Chiefs - Western Conference Top Defenceman

Riley Fiddler-Schultz is up for the Doug Wickenheiser Memorial Trophy against Western Conference winner Jake Gricius of the Portland Winterhawks. The winner will be announced Tuesday, May 12.

Dylan Guenther and Western Conference Rookie of the Year Logan Stankoven of the Kamloops Blazers go head-to-head for the Jim Piggot Memorial Trophy, which will be announced Friday, May 15.

Ty Smith goes up against Eastern Conference Top Defenceman Calen Addison of the Lethbridge Hurricanes for the Bill Hunter Memorial Trophy. The winner will be announced Tuesday, May 19.

The Lethbridge Hurricanes are up for the WHL’s Business Award, earning Eastern Conference honours, against the Western Conference Business of the Year in the Seattle Thunderbirds. The winner will be announced Wednesday, May 6.

Smith was also among the seven Albertans named to the WHL’s First and Second All-Star teams:

Eastern Conference First All-Star Team:
Forward - James Hamblin (Edmonton), Medicine Hat Tigers

Eastern Conference Second All-Star Team:
Defenceman - Matthew Robertson (Sherwod Park), Edmonton Oil Kings
Forward - Peyton Krebs (Okotoks), Winnipeg ICE

Western Conference First All-Star Team:
Defenceman - Ty Smith (Lloydminster), Spokane Chiefs

Western Conference Second All-Star Team:
Defenceman - Bowen Byram (Lethbridge/Cranbrook), Vancouver Giants
Forward - Zane Franklin (Marwayne), Kamloops Blazers
Forward - Bryce Kindopp (Lloydminster), Everett Silvertips

Home Ice Feature

Volunteer Spotlight - Tosha Sim & Pete and Crystal Swales

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.

Tosha Sim

Hockey Alberta Ice Times NewsletterTosha is the trainer for the Red Deer Junior B Vipers, a position she’s held since 2016, having previously been the volunteer coordinator for the team. She has been a volunteer coach for the Red Deer City Soccer Association since she was 16 years old.

"I volunteer because so many people have volunteered for me," said Tosha. "Growing up playing competitive soccer and being actively involved in my school community has taught me the importance of giving time to people and causes."

Tosha’s most memorable moments are the pair of Heritage Junior Hockey League North Division and League titles the Vipers brought home in the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons.

"It was an amazing opportunity to be part of the team and watch them work their way to the top," she said. "Also, I volunteer with my husband (Brady Sim). He has been with the team for 7-8 years. He does the play-by-play and announcing. It is really special to volunteer together, he is a superstar."

Tosha is currently an Elementary Education student, going in to her fourth year through the University of Alberta and Red Deer College.

Pete & Crystal Swales

Hockey Alberta Ice Times NewsletterPete and Crystal Swales are both longtime volunteers in Central Alberta, and currently volunteer with the Red Deer Senior AA Rustlers. Pete has been the team’s trainer since its inception a little over two years ago, with Crystal helping out in various roles during games and practices.

Both Pete and Crystal volunteer together in many roles outside of sport as well, including (what was then known as) the Suicide Prevention Line when they met 35 years ago.

As a registered RMT since 1995, Pete has worked with athletes in various roles, and began volunteering as a team trainer 15 years ago, spending five years with the Midget AAA team in Red Deer, before moving on to more volunteer roles outside of hockey, before returning to hockey in 2018 with the Senior Rustlers. In his sixth year with the Natural Health Practitioners of Canada, Pete is President of the Board of Directors.

"I was once asked why I volunteer... the simple answer is free pizza on the bus after a long trip to somewhere rural Alberta," said Pete. "The real reason is so much deeper, a sense of community and supporting others. At this point though, Crystal and I know now that if we need help or support the team is here for us. How do you put a price on that? Both my beautiful bride and I been so fortunate to have volunteered or served with so many groups and organizations, being asked to list them brings back many memories."

One of Pete’s favourite memories goes back to when he was first asked to join the Bantam AAA team for Westerns in B.C.

"It was a hectic week, neck injuries to band-aids on sore toes. What I didn’t realize then is for the most part the players of those days are part of our lives today," he said. "When Mikayla, our eldest granddaughter came to her first game, she leaned over the bench only to say ’oh Grandpa, those boys smell!’.

Outside of hockey, Crystal has volunteered with RCMP Victim Services, Suicide Prevent Crisis Line, helping organize Red Deer Firefighters retirement parties, and most recently was the Chairperson of the Central Albert Quilt Guild’s Quilt Show.

"I volunteer to give back and I feel that is so important," said Crystal. "Volunteers are the backbone of so many communities and organizations, which is very rewarding"

Crystal’s favourite moments came from volunteering with Red Deer’s Midget AAA team, travelling to Kenora in 2004 to the Telus Cup and bringing home bronze, and then again when Red Deer hosted in 2007 and won sivler.

Pete is the owner of a theraputic clinic in Red Deer, which is currently closed for safety reasons during the COVID-19 pandemic.

After a 30-year career as an emergency 9-1-1 dispatcher with Red Deer Emergency Services, Crystal retired and now is a part of the front-line staff at the Red Deer Hospital, and as an essential employee continues to work and serve her community.

Home Ice Feature

Volunteer Spotlight - Tom Chapman & Darren Smith

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 Chapman

Hockey Alberta Ice Times NewsletterTom has been coaching hockey in Lethbridge for eight years, at every level from Peewee AA to Midget AAA. He also currently is the Lethbridge Hurricane’s assistant video coach.

"I volunteer because of my love for the game of hockey. Ever since I was a small boy hockey has been my world, it’s taught me so many life lessons and helped create lifelong friendships, and I can’t imagine my life with hockey," said Tom. "Teammates have become family the bond created between us is something that can’t be explained. I volunteer to help young players and their families fall in love with the game like I have. It’s truly amazing what the game of hockey can do for you, seeing young players fall in love with the game is priceless and why I will continue to volunteer for the rest of my life!"

Tom said his most memorable moment as an volunteer came back in the 2018-2019 season while coaching Midget AAA in Lethbridge.

"Our team attended the prestigious Macs Midget AAA tournament and earned our way to the finals, we were the first team from Lethbridge to make the finals in over 25 years," he said. "This is something myself, the rest of our staff and most importantly the players and their families will never forget."

Tom farms alongside his father in Lomond, and continues to work during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Darren Smith

Hockey Alberta Ice Times NewsletterDarren is a long-time hockey coach in Edmonton, and also coaches lacrosse and baseball. He’s also volunteered as an assistant coach in lacrosse, and as an player evaluator during hockey evaluations.

In addition to coaching, as a police dog handler with the Edmonton Police Service Canine Unit, Darren says he valued attending schools and community centers with his police dog to interact with elementary and junior high aged students, answering questions and discussing life choices.

As a police officer and the parent of a young athlete, I recognize the impact that sport and the coaching staff can have on the development of the individual as an athlete and who the individual develops into away from the game," said Darren. "As a member of the community developing individual values, personal life skills, and team life skills, the friendships developed through sport as an athlete, coach, or parent. I love the excitement of sports."

Darren says he’s been very fortunate as a coach to witness the excitement of the players as they celebrate winning a tournament championship, a city championship or Edmonton Minor Hockey Week.

"As a coach, my most memorable moments occur when I see players in the community whom I have coached in the past, and they stop to talk and tell me how they are doing, how their sports are going, how their schooling is going, or they invite me to watch them play," he said.

As a police officer, Darren is an essential worker, and continues to serve the city of Edmonton during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Home Ice Feature

Volunteer Spotlight - Kevin Kuryluk & Janet Fairless

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.

Kevin Kuryluk

Hockey Alberta Ice Times NewsletterKevin has held numerous volunteer positions in the Grande Prairie area, including coaching minor hockey and minor baseball, and has been a minor hockey board member since 2016.

Kevin also volunteers with Hockey Alberta in several capacities, including facilitating coach clinics, on-ice instruction at development camps, and volunteer coaching.

"I feel like if I can help a young athlete grow as a person and become more confident, I can help them accomplish more," said Kevin. "If that’s carried forward with them for their entire life, it will create opportunities for others. I also think back to my youth and how many great people influenced my life through their volunteer work, and I believe we build stronger communities through sport and teamwork and I enjoy watching the players I coach grow and develop. There’s no downside to volunteering."

Kevin notes his recent experience as being part of the Team Alberta North Male coaching staff for the 2020 Arctic Winter Games as one of his most memorable moments.

"Even though the games were cancelled, just being part of the process starting in August with applying for the job through to our training weekend with the players from both the male and female teams it was a fantastic experience," he said. "Another highlight for me has been working all of the Hockey Alberta PEP camps and being with the Hockey Alberta PEP program from the beginning."

Kevin operates a grain farm and is considered an essential worker, so he continues to work through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Janet Fairless

Hockey Alberta Ice Times NewsletterJanet is a long-time volunteer with Hockey Alberta as the Zone 1 Minor Administration Coordinator and Minor Administration Chair. Her long list of volunteer roles in hockey also includes coaching female hockey with the Grimshaw Minor Hockey Assoications, numerous team manager positions, registrar for Grimshaw MHA, and the manager and registrar for the Grimshaw Huskies Senior Men’s team. She also has been a member of the Arctic Winter Games Mission Staff since 2012.

Outside of hockey, Janet holds several other volunteer roles with Ducks Unlimited, the Grimshaw Community Services Board, and has volunteered for both the Alberta Summer and Alberta Winter Games.

"(I volunteer) for the joy it gives to the athletes, that’s the main reason," said Janet. "But also, these things need to be done so activities and organizations can run... someone has to do it. People ask me why I do it, what am I getting out of it. If you are doing it for the purpose of getting something out of it, then I don’t feel that you are there for the right reasons. My answer always is satisfaction from helping others, and the relationships. I have met so many great people and made so many wonderful friends through my volunteering."

Janet said her favourite moments always come from seeing the look of accomplishment on athlete’s faces when they win a banner or medal.

"One that really stands out was giving the Most Sportmanlike banner to the Indis Atom Hockey team last year at Provincials in Peace River," she said. "That was a very happy group of young players. You would think they had won the Stanley Cup and in my eyes they did. I almost cried presenting it to them, they were a great group, right from the bench staff, players to the fans."

Home Ice Feature

Volunteer Spotlight - Lesley Burton & Kayne Warwick

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.

Lesley Burton

Hockey Alberta Ice Times NewsletterLesley holds a number of volunteer roles within her Southern Alberta community, most notably as a founding director of the University of Lethbridge Women’s Hockey Alumni Foundation.

She also is the manager of the Tilley Curling Club, President of the Tilley Hockey Academy, and a board member and coach for hockey and power skating. She also recently was a key volunteer for Hockey Alberta’s Female Hockey Day in Lethbridge.

"Growing up, I watched my parents help run our community and I was always very proud of what they did for all of us," said Lesley. "It takes a lot of work sometimes, but the friends you develop and the experiences you take away are what life is all about... ’leave it better than you found it’ is the way I look at it. Being a role model is very important to me as well, helping an athlete achieve their goals is so incredibly rewarding."

Lesley notes her time as a coach has been very memorable, as well as her position with the Tilley Curling Club, which is very near and dear to her family.

Kayne Warwick

Hockey Alberta Ice Times NewsletterKayne currently sits on the Sylvan Lake Minor Hockey Association Board of Directors as the Initiation Director, where he started the Learn To Play and Junior Coach programs.

In addition to coaching within SLMHA, Kayne represents the association within the West Country league, and has also coached baseball, lacrosse, and volleyball.

"(I volunteer) for the kids and the game. Whatever small part I can play to ensure that the kids have a safe, fun and a positive experience playing and learning the game I love," said Kayne. "My most memorable moments have come from seeing the kids within the new programs attain that sense of achievement of trying something new and realizing its okay to fall, and there’s nothing that a little determination and work can’t overcome."

Home Ice Feature

Volunteer Spotlight - Julie Feragen & Scott Henderson

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.

Julie Feragen

Hockey Alberta Ice Times NewsletterJulie is currently Hockey Alberta’s Minor Female Chair, a position she’s held for four years, and is the Senior Midget Governor for NAI. She’s previously held the position of Vice President and President of the Ponoka Minor Hockey Association, and the Governor for the North Central.

"(Volunteering) brings much appreciation from many, people make a point of telling you that it’s worth it," said Julie. "I find that it’s a great way to meet new people and show that you appreciate others at the same time. Great networking!"

Julie says her most memorable moments are being a part of the Hockey Alberta Provincial Championships every year, and being there to see the excitement of the teams who make it to gold medal games.

Being in the agriculture industry, Julie is an essential employee and continues to work and serve her clients during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Scott Henderson

Hockey Alberta Ice Times NewsletterScott has given his time to the sport for 12 years as a coach, board member and director with Hockey Calgary, as well as the First Shift Program and the Calgary Flames Learn to Play Program.

"I’ve had all four of my children play hockey, and it gave so much to our family that I really like to give back," said Scott. "The satisfaction of seeing children progress from just starting on ice to skating and developing a love for the game is why I volunteer."

Scott currently works in the construction industry, and continues to work through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Home Ice Feature

Volunteer Spotlight - Bernie Vanderham & Keith Hurd

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.

Bernie Vanderham

Hockey Alberta Ice Times NewsletterBernie Vanderham is a volunteer coach with the Innisfail Timbit Eaglet program for four year-olds, a position he’s held for 14 years. Bernie has had the opportunity to coach the program alongside his son Logan, who was just 15 years old when he began coaching.

In addition to his role with the Eaglet program, Bernie also volunteered in various roles throughout his son’s time playing minor hockey, both as a coach and as a manager, earning him numerous awards and recognition, including a Citizen of the Year award from the Town of Innisfail, and a Governor’s Award.

Bernie is also a long-time volunteer at the Innisfail Ski Hill, performing maintenance and inspections when needed.

"My favorite moments are when the young 4 year old players finally get motion forward with their stride, the look on their faces is amazing, once they figure skating out, it’s really cool," said Bernie. "With the ski hill, it’s the same thing , the smile on their faces after a day of skiing."

As a Corrections Officer, Bernie is an essential employee, and continues to work and serve his community during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Keith Hurd

Hockey Alberta Ice Times NewsletterKeith Hurd has been an active volunteer since 2007, including over 10 years with the Team Alberta program as a Director of Operations at the Alberta Cup, and Camp Coordinator at the Team Alberta U16 Summer Development Camp.

Keith has also served as a Team Manager for four different teams: Calgary Royals Minor Midget AAA (2007-2009), Calgary Royals Bantam AAA (2009-2014), Okotoks Bantam AAA (2014-2017) and Okotoks Midget AAA (2017-2018).

"I love being part of a team and helping to provide lifelong memories for young hockey players," said Keith. "I was on a plane in London Ontario, a couple years ago, on the way to Toronto, when a young man, who was boarding, looked at me and said ’are you Keith?’. It was Devan Reed, who was then attending Western University and had played in the Alberta Cup for Team Calgary North several years earlier... it truly is a lifelong connection."

Keith notes winning the AMBHL Championship and a silver medal in the Western Canadian Bantam Championship with the Okotoks Bantam AAA team, as well as winning the Alberta Cup with Team South in 2017 as two of his most memorable experiences as a volunteer.

Home Ice Feature

Photo credit: LA Media

Twenty-four Albertans listed in NHL Central Scouting’s Final Rankings

RED DEER - NHL Central Scouting has released its final rankings for the 2020 NHL draft, with 24 Albertans on the list.

Six Albertans landed in the top 30 of the North American Skater rankings: Jake Sanderson (4), Kaiden Guhle (8), Dylan Holloway (12), Ridly Greig (14), Ozzy Wiesblatt (19) and Jake Neighbours (26).

Garin Bjorklund (5), Taylor Gauthier (19), Blake Lyda (26) and Brayden Peters (30) are listed among the top North American goaltenders.

The full list of Albertans appearing in the NHL Central Scouting final rankings can be found below:

Midterm Rank Player Position Last Amateur Club League
4 Jake Sanderson Defence USA U-18 NTDP
8 Kaiden Guhle Defence Prince Albert WHL
12 Dylan Holloway Forward Wisconsin Big 10
14 Ridly Greig Forward Brandon WHL
19 Ozzy Wiesblatt Forward Prince Albert WHL
26 Jake Neighbours Forward Edmonton WHL
50 Carter Savoie Forward Sherwood Park AJHL
57 Michael Benning Defence Sherwood Park AJHL
65 Connor McClennon Forward Winnipeg WHL
75 Ronan Seeley Defence Everett WHL
77 Ethan Edwards Defence Spruce Grove AJHL
103 Owen Pederson Forward Winnipeg WHL
130 Luke Prokop Defence Calgary WHL
139 Benjamin Zloty Defence Winnipeg WHL
145 Alex Young Forward Canmore AJHL
151 Rhett Rhinehart Defence Saskatoon WHL
166 Tyrel Bauer Defence Seattle WHL
178 Ryker Evans Defence Regina WHL
201 Noah Boyko Forward Lethbridge WHL
208 Kyle Crnkovic Forward Saskatoon WHL
5 Garin Bjorklund Goaltender Medicine Hat WHL
19 Taylor Gauthier Goaltender Prince George WHL
26 Blake Lyda Goaltender Seattle WHL
30 Brayden Peters Goaltender Calgary WHL

Home Ice Feature stories will focus on interesting stories about the individuals and groups who make a difference within the hockey community in Alberta. If you have a suggestion for a Home Ice Feature story, email [email protected].

Home Ice Feature

Airdrie ’Kindness Ninjas’ visit the Alberta Winter Games

AIRDRIE - The Zone 5 Male hockey team learned a valuable off-ice lesson during the 2020 Alberta Winter Games, after a visit from the Kindness Ninjas Sunday afternoon.

The ’Kindness Ninjas’ are Kindergarten students at Windsong Heights Elementary School in Airdrie, part of a program to help teach the impact of kindness in the classroom, school, community and beyond.

The Ninjas stopped by the Ron Ebbesen Arena after Zone 5’s final round-robin game, as part of an initiative put forth by the team’s Director of Operations, Kim Buchan.

Hockey Alberta Ice Times Newsletter

The parents of the Zone 5 players presented the Kindness Ninjas with blankets to donate to the homeless, as part of their "Blankets of Hope" initiative.

According to Buchan, the parents were challenged to perform a good deed as a group, following a good deeds challenge put out to the team in December.

Hockey Alberta Ice Times Newsletter

She said she got the idea to work with the Kindness Ninjas after seeing a news story involving former Calgary Flame Lanny McDonald.

"One of our discussions with the boys was that it all starts with being a good person, and it starts with character," said Buchan. "It shows them that even the little things can mean a lot."

Buchan said she was put into contact with the two Kindergarten teachers involved with the Kindness Ninjas, and arranged for the students to come to the arena on Sunday.

Hockey Alberta Ice Times Newsletter

"Sport is such an important part of childhood, I feel," said Allie Apels, Kindergarten teacher at Windsong Heights. "I think it’s great to see that you can be on a team, and you can work together to spread kindness and have common values beyond the rink."

Home Ice Feature stories will focus on interesting stories about the individuals and groups who make a difference within the hockey community in Alberta. If you have a suggestion for a Home Ice Feature story, email [email protected].

Home Ice Feature

Vote for the Crowfoot Coyotes Peewee AA in the Chevrolet Good Deeds Cup!

Congratulations to Hockey Calgary’s Crowfoot Coyotes, who are one of the regional finalists selected by Chevrolet in the Good Deeds Cup!

Now, it’s up to YouTube viewers across Alberta to help the Coyotes reach the final three and have a chance at $100,000 for their designated charity - Team Naomi Get Well Now.

The team will be donating the prize money they receive to the charity that supports pediatric cancer research, and they are hoping they can build on their donation by getting voted into the top three.

"Team Naomi Get Well Now is special to us because one of our team members has a relative who is currently suffering from pediatric cancer." Said head coach Mike LaPlante, "The goal was to help our community, and making it this far in the Chevrolet Good Deeds Cup already makes us feel like winners."

From now until February 9, all 10 semi-finalist videos are available for viewing at Chevrolet Canada’s YouTube channel at The three teams that receive the most views will each be eligible to win a Finalist Prize, which includes $5,000 to the team’s designated charity.

The three finalist entries then will be reviewed by a judging panel from Chevrolet and Hockey Canada, with a Good Deeds Cup champion selected and announced on February 17. The Good Deeds Cup champion receives a $100,000 cheque for its designated charity, along with prizes for individual team members.

216 entries were received from Peewee teams across the country for the Good Deeds Cup.

Home Ice Feature

Photo credit: LA Media

Twenty-two Albertans listed in NHL Central Scouting’s Midterm Rankings

RED DEER - NHL Central Scouting has released its midterm rankings for the 2020 NHL draft, with 22 Albertans on the list.

Six Albertans landed in the top 30 of the North American Skater rankings: Kaiden Guhle, Dylan Holloway, Jake Sanderson, Ozzy Wiesblatt, Ridly Greig and Jake Neighbours.

Garin Bjorklund, Jack McNaughton, Blake Lyda and Taylor Gautier are listed among the top North American goaltenders.

The full list of Albertans appearing in the NHL Central Scouting midterm rankings can be found below:

Midterm Rank Player Position Last Amateur Club League
7 Kaiden Guhle Defence Prince Albert WHL
10 Dylan Holloway Forward Wisconsin Big 10
11 Jake Sanderson Defence USA U-18 NTDP
14 Ozzy Wiesblatt Forward Prince Albert WHL
25 Ridly Greig Forward Brandon WHL
30 Jake Neighbours Forward Edmonton WHL
43 Connor McClennon Forward Winnipeg WHL
52 Carter Savoie Forward Sherwood Park AJHL
60 Michael Benning Defence Sherwood Park AJHL
73 Ronan Seeley Defence Everett WHL
85 Ethan Edwards Defence Spruce Grove AJHL
86 Luke Prokop Defence Calgary WHL
111 Rhett Rhinehart Defence Saskatoon WHL
121 Owen Pederson Forward Winnipeg WHL
168 Tyrel Bauer Defence Seattle WHL
177 Ryker Evans Defence Regina WHL
180 Noah Boyko Forward Lethbridge WHL
194 Carter Souch Forward Edmonton WHL
10 Garin Bjorklund Goaltender Medicine Hat WHL
14 Jack McNaughton Goaltender Calgary WHL
23 Blake Lyda Goaltender Seattle WHL
27 Taylor Gauthier Goaltender Prince George WHL

Home Ice Feature stories will focus on interesting stories about the individuals and groups who make a difference within the hockey community in Alberta. If you have a suggestion for a Home Ice Feature story, email [email protected].

Home Ice Feature

Highlight Reel: 2019

With 2019 now in the rear-view mirror, Hockey Alberta looks back on the year that was with some of our favourite moments from the past year (in no particular order).

Canada Games Gold, Bronze for Team Alberta U18 Female and U16 Male

Hockey Alberta Ice Times Newsletter
Photo credit: Kurtis Fischer

Team Alberta U18 female defied the odds in March, taking down an undefeated Quebec team 2-1 to capture gold on home ice at the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer.

The gold medal was Alberta’s 100th medal of the 2019 Canada Winter Games, and second in hockey, with the Men’s team winning bronze in week one.

Full Story >

Hockey Alberta Ice Times Newsletter
Photo credit: Peter Fuzzery

After an 8-4 loss in the semi-finals at the 2019 Canada Winter Games, Team Alberta U16 Male rebounded with a 12-0 win over Saskatchewan to claim the bronze medal.

Full Story >


Hockey Alberta Ice Times Newsletter
Photo credit: LA Media

After giving up the first goal of the game, Team Alberta Red scored three unanswered goals to defeat Alberta Black 3-1, capturing the 2019 Alberta Cup title in Red Deer.

Full Story >

Hockey Alberta Ice Times Newsletter
Photo credit: LA Media

North Yellow claimed the 2019 Alberta Challenge title in Leduc, defeating North Blue 5-2.

Full Story >

Hockey Alberta Ice Times Newsletter
Photo credit: LA Media

The Peewee Prospects Cup had a long trip home from Lethbridge in 2019, with North Grey skating to a 6-2 win over North Blue in the championship final.

Full Story >

March to a Title

Hockey Alberta Ice Times Newsletter

The 2019 Hockey Alberta Provincial Championships, presented by ATB Financial, had a little different look than previous years in the Peewee Division. Hockey Alberta undertook a trial that saw the Peewee A-D championships transition to Peewee Tiers 1-4 based on the new standardized tiering model implemented for the 2018-19 season. There were 40 provincial champs crowned, ranging from Atom to Senior AAA, with events hosted at locations ranging from Grande Prairie to Fort Macleod to Cold Lake.

2019 Parade of Champions >

Esso Cup Three-Peat

Hockey Alberta Ice Times Newsletter

After making history as the first team to repeat as Esso Cup champions in 2018, the St. Albert Slash of the Alberta Female Hockey League re-wrote history again in 2019, defeating the host Sudbury Lady Wolves to capture a third straight national title.

Full Story >

Alberta players, officials take the next step

Hockey Alberta Ice Times Newsletter
Photo credit: Chicago Blackhawks

Alberta saw a number of its players and officials earn accolades and recognition in 2019:

  • For the fifth straight year, an Albertan was the top selection at the Western Hockey League Bantam draft, as the Winnipeg Ice took Matthew Savoie with the first overall pick. Full Story >
  • A total of 12 Albertans were selected at the 2019 NHL Draft in Vancouver, including Kirby Dach, who went third overall to the Chicago Blackhawks, making him the highest-drafted Albertan since Jay Bouwmeester went third overall to the Florida Panthers in 2002. Full Story >
  • A number of on-ice officials achieved opportunities at high-profile national and international events. More Stories >

Albertans Get The Call To The Hall

Hockey Alberta Ice Times Newsletter
Photo credit: Andy Devlin/Oilers Entertainment Group

Five outstanding individuals and back-to-back Memorial Cup champions were enshrined as the 2019 Induction Class for the Alberta Hockey Hall of Fame (AHHF): Theoren Fleury, Kevin Lowe, Shirley Cameron, Bob Ridley, Duncan MacDougall, and the 1986-87 and 1987-88 Medicine Hat Tigers.

Full Story >

Leading Change

Hockey Alberta Ice Times Newsletter

Leading Change was the central theme of Hockey Alberta’s 2019 Hockey Conference and Annual General Meeting in Red Deer in November, highlighted by keynote speaker Matt Symes.

Full Story >

Hockey Alberta Ice Times Newsletter

Hockey Alberta has a new Chair and Vice Chair at the helm of its Board of Directors after the organization’s 112th Annual General Meeting in Red Deer. Len Samletzki was acclaimed as the new Chair, taking over from Terry Engen. Allan Mowbray was acclaimed as the Vice Chair, taking over from Fran Zinger.

Full Story >

Hockey Alberta Ice Times Newsletter

The Hockey Alberta Foundation also saw a new Chair and Vice Chair of its Board of Directors in 2019. Dennis Zukiwsky (Red Deer) was acclaimed as the new Chair, taking over from John Windwick. Jeff Robson (Calgary) was acclaimed as the Vice Chair, taking over from Dennis Zukiwsky. Zukiwsky previously served as the Board’s Vice Chair, while Robson was previously a Director on the Board.

Full Story >

Hockey Alberta Awards

Hockey Alberta Ice Times Newsletter

Hockey Alberta presented their annual Hockey Alberta Awards in conjunction with the Alberta Cup in April, recognizing outstanding individuals and teams for their hard work and accomplishments in making a positive difference for our participants in the game of hockey during the 2018-19 season.

Full Story >

Every Kid Every Community - The Gateway to Hockey Opportunities Around the Province

Hockey Alberta Ice Times Newsletter

The Hockey Alberta Foundation’s Every Kid Every Community program, aimed at giving all kids across Alberta the chance to play hockey, saw no shortage of support in 2019.

To kick off the year, the Piper Creek Optimist Club of Red Deer’s annual Battle of Alberta fundraiser brought in nearly $15,000 for EKEC in January. The Foundation’s annual Golf and Gala events saw another $129,000 come in for the program in July, and the annual Glencross Invitational Charity Roughstock Event raised $170,000 for EKEC, as well as Ronald McDonald House Central Alberta.

More than $45,000 was dispersed to organizations across the province, through Player Assistance Grants or Program Grants. Funding was provided directly by the Hockey Alberta Foundation to several charitable groups, including: Sport Central, Comrie’s Sports Bank, KidSport, HEROS Hockey and the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame and Museum.

National, International Championship Tournaments in Brooks and Medicine Hat

Hockey Alberta Ice Times Newsletter

Alberta saw a pair of high-profile events in 2019, with the National Junior A Championship taking place in Brooks in May, and the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in Medicine Hat in November (split with Swift Current).

The host Brooks Bandits took home the 2019 National Junior A Championship title.

National Junior A Championship > | World Under-17 Challenge >

Leading Our Leaders

Hockey Alberta Ice Times Newsletter

Hockey Alberta strives to ensure every coach in the province has the opportunity to receive all the proper information and training needed to provide our players with the highest level of coaching at all levels. In 2019 alone, more than 4,600 hockey coaches in Alberta attended National Coach Certification Program (NCCP) and other professional coach development clinics offered this season through Hockey Alberta.

Full Story >

Kicking Off the Sledge Season

Alberta’s Sledge Hockey season started out with a bang in Red Deer in September, with a two-day Sledge Hockey Player Development Camp for players of all ages and skill levels, led by Canada’s Women’s National Para-Ice Hockey team Head Coach, Tara Chisholm. A Sledge Hockey Coach 2 - Coach Level clinic ran in conjunction with the camp, emphasizing basic skills and the importance of having players develop confidence, self-esteem, and a love for the game.

Home Ice Feature

Prairie Thunder Midgets hosted their 2nd annual Prairie Thunder Alumni game held on December 22

Hockey gives back across Alberta

Alberta’s hockey community is always at its best during the holiday season, and we’ve asked Minor Hockey Associations and teams from across Alberta to share their stories of giving back to the community with us. If you would like to share your team’s story of giving back during the holidays, please email [email protected] with details and photos.

Airdrie Atom 1

Hockey Alberta Ice Times Newsletter

The Airdrie Atom 1 team purchased $780 worth of groceries for the Davis ‘Fill the truck’ event, where all donations were provided to the Airdrie Food Bank.

Airdrie Atom 2 Red

Hockey Alberta Ice Times Newsletter

Airdrie’s Atom Tier 2 Red went shopping for pillows to donate to the Airdrie Lioness Club.

Airdrie Atom and Midget Female

Hockey Alberta Ice Times Newsletter

The Airdrie Female Atom and Midget girls teams were able to raise funds to purchase 808 turkeys to donate to the Airdrie Food Bank this holiday season.

Airdrie Peewee Female B

Hockey Alberta Ice Times Newsletter

Airdrie’s Female Pee Wee B donated their time assisting to fill backpacks for the Stephen’s Backpacks Society for Children In Need.

Airdrie Peewee 4

Hockey Alberta Ice Times Newsletter

Airdrie’s Pee Wee Tier 4 purchased goods and made up Care Packages for the less fortunate in their community this holiday season.

Beaverlodge Midget Female and Male


On December 22, the Beaverlodge Minor Hockey Midget Male and Midget Female teams hosted a fun game against each other, including a game with our youngest Initiation players during the intermission. The Midget teams chose to donate the proceeds from the 50/50 during this game to the local food bank in Beaverlodge, with $492.50 donated. The community came together to support our two teams playing against each other.

Bow Valley Peewee AA Timberwolves

Hockey Alberta Ice Times Newsletter

The Bow Valley Timberwolves Peewee AA team hosted a ’Battle of the Badges’ game between local firefighters/EMS and police, raising funds for ’Project All In’, which supports first responders’ mental health and well-being. More Photos >

Calgary Fire Red Bantam Elite

Hockey Alberta Ice Times Newsletter

The Calgary Fire Red Bantam Elite team have spread holiday cheer by bringing gifts to the Calgary Women’s Shelter and sang carols to the residents at Brentwood Care Facility.

Calgary Midget AAA North Stars

Hockey Alberta Ice Times Newsletter

The Calgary Midget AAA Northstars have been busy giving back to the community this holiday season. The team, coaches, and parents participated in Canadian Blood Service’s #HockeyGivesBlood campaign, with seven 17 year-olds giving blood for the first time. The team also spent time shoveling sidewalks, ran a toy and coat drive to contribute to Project Warmth, and held a special mother’s game day for the leading ladies in their lives.

Hockey Alberta Ice Times Newsletter

Calgary North Stars Minor Midget AAA Blazers

Hockey Alberta Ice Times Newsletter

The CNHA MM AAA Blazers spent an evening packing backpacks at Stephen’s Backpacks for some of Calgary’s less fortunate children.

Edmonton Girls Hockey 603 and 605

Hockey Alberta Ice Times Newsletter

The EG603 and EG605 teams faced off earlier this month, and challenged each other to bring food bank donations to the game.

Edmonton Girls Hockey Peewee 505 and 506

Hockey Alberta Ice Times Newsletter

EG506 went head to head with EG505 for a league game on December 14, so they decided to add in a donation challenge. Both teams chose Boyle Street as our recipients of donations for their Donations In Kind program. They were able to fill a truck with topper to the brim, including the back seat, with all of the donations.

Fort McMurray Bouchier Peewee AA


The Fort McMurray Bouchier Peewee AA Junior Oil Barons supported the Centre of Hope this Holiday season. They served homemade chilli and soup to the patrons, and presented them with a cheque for $3,060 from fundraising efforts.

Fort Saskatchewan Midget AA Rangers

Hockey Alberta Ice Times Newsletter

The Fort Saskatchewan Midget AA Rangers were busy helping the Fort Saskatchewan Food Bank on December 21st. The team packed nearly 200 hampers including everything needed for a Christmas meal and toys for the little ones into volunteers’ vehicles for delivery.

Glenlake Hawks Atom 1 Green

Hockey Alberta Ice Times Newsletter

The Glenlake Hawks Atom 1 Green team came together to adopt a family through the Northeast Calgary Adopt-A-Family Society, providing a family of seven necessity items to ensure they will be warm this holiday season, and beyond. From shopping to wrapping to delivery the Hawks were motivated to make this Christmas a little brighter for this family.

Grande Prairie Peewee A2 Arctic Crane Knights

Hockey Alberta News

Every second Sunday, the Pee Wee A2 Arctic Crane Knights get together and cook, bake and prep food for the Sunrise House in Grande Prairie. The Sunrise House is our local youth shelter that provides a home for homeless youth between the ages of 12-17. The players are required to do the shopping and all the work required in order to provide a nice meal for the youth at the Shelter.

Grande Prairie Atom 1 Knights

Hockey Alberta Ice Times Newsletter

On November 16, the Grande Prairie Atom A Knights went out into the community to ring the Kettle Bells for the Salvation Army. Groups of players spread out through various lcoations in the city ringing the bells, accepting donations, and handing out candy canes.

Grande Prairie Bantam AA Higson Dental Group Storm

The Grande Prairie Bantam AA Higson Dental Group Storm have been spending the whole first half of the season giving back to the community. They have donated over $500 to Kev’s Kids, donated pet food and supplies to Bandaged Paws, picked up litter in the community, donated to the GP Hospital Foundation, donated food and clothing to the homeless, helped with the Festival of Trees set-up, accepted donations for the Salvation Army, volunteered with Big Brothers Big Sisters, and are supporting a teammate whose Father is battling cancer.

Lacoka Bantam Female

Hockey Alberta Ice Times Newsletter

The Lacoka Bantam females hosted a tournament last weekend and accepted donations for the local food back. All teams involved were very supportive - Leduc, Red Deer, Lloydminster, Stettler, and West Central.

Lethbridge Timbit Pirates

Hockey Alberta Ice Times Newsletter

The Lethbridge Timbit Pirates have joined the Lethbridge Foodbank’s "Snowball Effect" Food drive for the holiday season. The team had heard about the food drive and decided that it would be a perfect way to give back to the community. All players were asked to donate some non-perishables and bring them to weekly Saturday practice. The team was very happy to learn that they would be helping out less fortunate families have meals during the Christmas season.

Medicine Hat Atom Black Hounds

Hockey Alberta Ice Times Newsletter

The Medicine Hat Atom CAHL Black Hounds made a difference in the life of a local family this Christmas. In the 2nd annual "Giving Christmas Away" theme, the team adopted a family, raising close to $1400 that allowed them to make a deserving family’s Christmas dreams come true. They shopped together, wrapped together, and have learned a valuable lesson of giving back to the community through a sport that has taught them what it means to "be a good person".

Medicine Hat Peewee A Female Wildcats

Hockey Alberta Ice Times Newsletter

The Medicine Hat Peewee A Wildcats gave back to their community by ringing kettle bells for The Salvation Army on December 19.

Medicine Hat Peewee B Female Wildcats

Hockey Alberta Ice Times Newsletter

The Medicine Hat Peewee B Wildcats have been busy with their Kindness Campaign this season, beginning with sharing homemade cookies at the Irvine rink on Random Act of Kindness Day. They have also rang kettle bells and raised money for the Salvation Army, decorating the Masterpiece Southland Meadows retirement home for Christmas, shovelled neighbours walkways, and sent out a Christmas card to every Meals on Wheels recipient.

Olds Bantam AA Grizzlys

Hockey Alberta Ice Times Newsletter

The Olds Bantam AA Grizzlys players donated $465 to the Olds and District Christmas Angels. They collected this money by having dressing room/team standards, and if a player falters on these, they need to donate. Many of the players families added to the total once the players decided to donate the funds instead of having a team Christmas party. The team also headed to the Mountain View Seniors Lodge to fill over 90 stockings for the residents.

Onoway Bantam

Hockey Alberta Ice Times Newsletter

Over the holiday season, the Onoway Bantam team decided to help the neighbouring community by building 100 food hampers for those in need. This is sponsored by the Alberta Beach lions club. The players helped unload the trailers full of food, sort accordingly, and help fill up the hampers.

Peace Country Storm and Red Deer Sutter Fund Chiefs Midget Elite

Hockey Alberta Ice Times Newsletter

The Peace Country Storm and the Red Deer Sutter Fund Chiefs gave back to a family who needed some help during the holidays. Both teams donated food, water, blankets and $525.00 in gift cards. The Sutter Fund Chiefs also prepared and served a meal to approximately 150 people at Potters Hands in downtown Red Deer.

Prairie Thunder Midgets


Prairie Thunder Midgets hosted their second annual Prairie Thunder Alumni game on December 22. The local charity this year was the Brooks Elks Canada annual toy drive, which raised over $300 in cash and donations of unwrapped toys. We like to thank everybody for coming out.

Red Deer Atom A Cambridge Chiefs and Minor Midget AAA North Star Chiefs

Hockey Alberta Ice Times Newsletter

On December 9, 2019, the Red Deer Cambridge Atom A and North Star Chiefs MM AAA spent the evening getting to know each other and the residents at Extendicare Michener Hill. The older players had the opportunity to be mentors to the young Atom players while playing games with the senior citizen residents. On December 14th, the Atoms had a follow up event where they went to cheer on their Minor Midget AAA buddies during their home game. The Atom players created personalized signs and shared snacks and smiles that led to a fun night for everyone involved.

Red Deer Atom B RCM Transport Chiefs

Hockey Alberta Ice Times Newsletter

On Dec. 11, the Red Deer Atom B RCM Transport Chiefs met at Extendicare Michener Hill in Red Deer to help bring all the residents to the common area, where a live band performed. They then played some pool noodle hockey with one hockey loving resident. After the band performed, the team ushered all of the residents back to their rooms, and helped the band carry out their equipment, put away all the chairs, and tidy up.

Red Deer Bantam Elite and Novice Chiefs

Hockey Alberta Ice Times Newsletter

The Red Deer Bantam Elite Sutter Fund and Novice Chiefs partnership program saw the two female teams get together and create care packages for families and their children staying at Ronald McDonald House. These care packages will be placed in the “Magic Room” where they are available to families staying at the House to provide a small sense of comfort. Afterwards the volunteers of Ronald McDonald House took time to educate the girls on their program & share stories of families that have been helped.

Rocky Mountain House Renegades

Hockey Alberta Ice Times Newsletter

During their home game on December 20, the Rocky Renegades held an event called Renegades Help Fight the Cold Weather! The team collected warm fuzzy toques, mittens, and socks for people in need. They donated 55 warm items to our local Mountain Rose Women’s Shelter on January 2. The Renegades are hoping that their efforts can help keep several families a little bit warmer this winter.

Rocky Mountain House Royals

Hockey Alberta Ice Times Newsletter

The Rocky Mountain House Royals (from left to right) #7 Assistant Captain Colton Bradshaw, #19 Captain Colin Muyres, #16 Assistant Captain Jason Roberts and #4 forward Hunter Girard dropped off 126lbs of food at the Lords Food Bank after their game on December 15th vs. Kneehill.

Rocky Mountain Raiders Midget AAA Female

Hockey Alberta Ice Times Newsletter

For the second year in a row, the Rocky Mountain Raiders Midget AAA Female hockey team partnered up with a local Supportive Living Seniors Care Home in Okotoks, Tudor Manor. The group spent the day interacting and spending time with the residents while making gingerbread houses.

SE439 Millwood Bruins

Hockey Alberta Ice Times Newsletter

The SE439 Millwoods Bruins ran a bottle drive, using the funds raised to purchase gifts for seniors who may not have anyone to give them a gift on Christmas.

SEAC Minor Midget AAA Tigers

Hockey Alberta Ice Times Newsletter

On December 20, the SEAC Minor Midget AAA Tigers went to Chinook Village in Medicine Hat to deliver wrapped gifts to seniors in assisted living. The team collected gifts for seniors in need at a home game in Medicine Hat on November 16 at the Hockey Hounds Arena, and then worked with the Santa for Seniors organization to deliver these gifts to seniors in our community of Medicine Hat. The team delivered gifts, sang a few songs, and visited with some of the seniors. The team also volunteered at the Salvation Army Soup Kitchen, serving a hot meal to around 100 people. They helped with serving a meal and coffee, visiting with people as well as doing dishes and clean up of the centre after the meal.

Sexsmith Atom 1 Vipers

Hockey Alberta Ice Times Newsletter

The Sexsmith Atom A Vipers helped out in the Town of Sexsmith’s Reverse Santa Parade on December 7th. Residents of the town put out bags of non-perishable food and toys on their front steps for donation to the community Christmas hampers. The Vipers walked through the town collecting the donated items and loaded them onto the horse drawn wagons. The Christmas hampers are given to families in Sexsmith and the surrounding area that need a little extra help during the Christmas season.

Sherwood Park Atom 2 Havoc

Hockey Alberta Ice Times Newsletter

The Sherwood Park Atom 2 Havoc helped spread some holiday cheer by visiting a couple of local Seniors Centers. The team enjoyed sharing some cookies and holiday treats with the residents and spent some time talking and visiting with the seniors in the afternoon.

Sherwood Park Peewee 1 Aces

Hockey Alberta Ice Times Newsletter

The Sherwood Park Peewee Aces have been busy giving back this season! On October 5, they spent the day collecting used sports equipment around Sherwood Park and area as part of SportsCentral’s Dave’s Drive, in honor of Dave Semenko. Following that, on November 13th and November 28th they participated in Strathcona County’s Snow Busters program where they spent the evenings shovelling driveways for those in need. Lastly, the Aces dedicated a few hours to helping our local sports store - Sin Bin Sports - move to their brand new location! The boys hauled and organized all the hockey sticks for Mike (the owner) to show their support for Sin Bin Sports and all they do for our hockey community.

Sherwood Park Peewee Assassins

Hockey Alberta Ice Times Newsletter

The Sherwood Park Peewee Assassins went door to door and collected food items for the Stratchona Food Bank. Their efforts brought in almost 740lbs of food and just over $100 in donations.

Sherwood Park Bantam 2 Royals

Hockey Alberta Ice Times Newsletter

The Sherwood Park Royals bantam team spread some holiday cheer by helping out at their local food bank. They were helping to unload food donations from the local “Stuff A Bus” food drive.

Simons Valley Midget 2 Storm

Hockey Alberta Ice Times Newsletter

The Simons Valley Midget 2 Storm and their families organized a bottle drive which raised $1,020. They used the money raised to purchase gifts for the Toys for Angels campaign.

St. Albert Raiders AA Bears


The St. Albert Raiders AA Bears hosted a food bank drive and game against the AA Blues Sunday evening where a total of 1932 lbs if food were collected for the St. Albert food bank. Along with a cash donation of $330.

St. Paul Bantam 1 Canadiens

Hockey Alberta Ice Times Newsletter

Hockey Alberta Ice Times NewsletterHockey Alberta Ice Times NewsletterEvery year, a bantam or midget team from St. Paul Minor Hockey helps out with the local Christmas hamper drive. This year, the Bantam 1 Canadiens team delivered hampers out to the local people in need around the area.

Tofield Titans Peewee 2

Hockey Alberta Ice Times Newsletter

On December 20, the Tofield Titans Peewee 2 team led a fundraiser at their local Midget game against Whitecourt. The fundraiser was for Elaiza Belda, a grade 6 student at Tofield School (where many of the players attend) who is battling Stage 4 bone cancer. The Peewee 2 team collected donations throughout the Midget game and the weekend before at their home tournament, raising over $2,000 for the family to help off- set the cost of spending many hours at the Stollery Hospital in Edmonton, AB. They hope that this helps the Belda family and allows them to concentrate on Elaiza’s health and wellness.

Trails West Bantam 5 Wolves

Hockey Alberta Ice Times Newsletter

The Trails West Bantam 5 Wolves hosted The Season of Giving Invitational on December 9-12, where they would battle with Crowfoot, Bow River, and The Knights in the spirit of play and friendly competition. In lieu of medals, the teams were awarded a cash donation, which would be made to a charity of each team’s choice. Trails West played for Kids Cancer Care, Crowfoot for the Ronald McDonald House, and Bow River and The Knights for the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation. In addition, all teams came together to donate filled backpacks for The Mustard Seed.

Trails West Novice 1 Red

Hockey Alberta Ice Times Newsletter

The Trails West 1 Novice 1 Red players decided that rather than having a gift exchange amongst themselves this year, they wanted to select gifts to donate to other less fortunate children, so the team donated their gifts to the Salvation Army’s Toy Angels program.

Trails West Peewee 2 Red

Hockey Alberta Ice Times Newsletter

The Trails West PW Red 2 team spent a winter evening at a Silvera senior’s centre playing games and entertaining the residents. The players enjoyed interacting with the seniors and trying the Silvera Olympic games. Some amazing stories were shared and the players took away valuable life lessons. The seniors encouraged them to keep up with their sports and always work hard. It was a wonderful night for both residents and players.

Home Ice Feature

Photo credit: LA Media

Twenty Albertans land on updated ’Players to Watch’ list

RED DEER - NHL Central Scouting has updated its ’Players to Watch’ list, with 20 Albertans making an appearance.

All eighteen players listed in October are named once again, with two new Albertans, Kyle Crnkovic and Owen Pederson, making the list as well.

Three Albertan skaters are listed as ’A’ prospects: defencemen Kaiden Guhle and Jake Sanderson, and forward Dylan Holloway.

Seven Albertans are in the ’B’ prospect category, with ten more listed as ’C’ prospects.

The ‘A’ rating indicates a first round candidate, a ‘B’ rating indicates a second or third round candidate, and a ‘C’ rating indicates a fourth, fifth, or sixth round candidate.

The full list of Albertans named to the Players to Watch list can be found below:

Name Position Team League
A Prospects
Kaiden Guhle Defence Prince Albert WHL
Dylan Holloway Forward Wisconsin Big Ten
Jake Sanderson Defence USA U-18 NTDP
B Prospects
Ridly Greig Forward Brandon WHL
Connor McClennon Forward Winnipeg WHL
Jack McNaughton Goaltender Calgary WHL
Jake Neighbours Forward Edmonton WHL
Luke Prokop Defence Calgary WHL
Carter Savoie Forward Sherwood Park AJHL
Ozzy Wiesblatt Forward Prince Albert WHL
C Prospects
Tyrel Bauer Defence Seattle WHL
Michael Benning Defence Sherwood Park AJHL
Garin Bjorklund Goaltender Medicine Hat WHL
Noah Boyko Forward Lethbridge WHL
Kyle Crnkovic Forward Saskatoon WHL
Ethan Edwards Defence Spruce Grove AJHL
Owen Pederson Forward Winnipeg WHL
Rhett Rhinehart Defence Prince George WHL
Ronan Seeley Defence Everett WHL
Carter Souch Forward Edmonton WHL