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A model of composure

With a calming influence and ability to connect with players, Bob Agnew is a respected hockey ambassador in Morden

Quinton Amundson
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November 01, 2019

Amid the hustle and bustle of organizing community events, Clare Agnew always feels more assured when her younger brother Bob is at her side.

“I always feel comfortable and confident whenever he is in the room,” says Clare, the director of community services in Morden, Man. “He always has my back, and he’s calming and supportive.”

If you take a straw poll of the individuals who know Bob Agnew well – friends, family, players he’s coached and employees – you are bound to hear praise for the 53-year-old's ability of being a calming presence in any situation.

Bob says the trait serves him well in his day job as manager of the Manitoba Public Insurance branch in Winkler – a post he has held for 16 years – and has helped him build rapport with different generations of hockey players.

He believes establishing a person-to-person connection is a substantial component of effective coaching.

“So much of it is being a people person,” says Bob, who started his coaching career with the Peewee team in Morden in 1988.  “Once [the player] trusts you and is comfortable with you, the hockey part of it is so much easier to share and for them to pick up.”

Mark Thiessen, Bob’s friend of 45 years, says players always “migrate towards Bob.”

“He listens to what players say and want to say and gives his advice from that,” says Thiessen, a coaching colleague of Bob’s with the 2009-10 Winkler Flyers and 2013-14 Morden Senior A Redskins. “He is such an easy guy to talk to all the time. Some kids like to be talked to sternly, and he can do that if he has to, but he is more of a listening, calm guy.”

An assistant coach with the Pembina Valley Bantam AAA Hawks this season, Bob has no issue investing time into supporting his players in whatever way they need. Spending time with youth energizes him.

His career highlights are not any particular game or tournament. He is most proud of the relationships he has cultivated.

“I still see kids I coached in minor hockey several years ago, and to have that continued interaction is special.  Some of the kids I coached when I was younger are now coaches, which I think is awesome. It has even gotten to the point that one of the kids I coached with the Peewee team has his son trying out for the team I’m coaching this year.”

Morden, Pembina Valley, Thompson and Winkler are just some of the communities Bob has imprinted during his long hockey career. In addition to serving as a coach, Bob has assisted teams with tryouts, player evaluations and developing practice plans.

He took a classic path into being a hockey lifer: His passion for the game was sparked by playing on outdoor ponds and in the family driveway in his early years. There were quite a few participants available for the family scrimmages – Clare and Bob are the two youngest of six children born to Bill and Barb Agnew.

One of Clare’s fond childhood memories was challenging Bob to a race at an outdoor rink with her skating forwards and him skating backwards – Bob got the better of his big sister that day.

Years after those friendly on-ice battles, Clare and Bob continue to volunteer together. They avidly support the MS Walk in Morden and have worked hockey events such as the 2010 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, 2017 Esso Cup and upcoming 2019 National Women’s Under-18 Championship.

Bob, who also gives his time to supporting female softball, curling and golf events, says volunteering has become instinctual to him.

“I don’t even think you realize you’re doing it – you just do it. If there is an event coming to town, it's a given you’re going to sign up and help. To me, that’s small-town living.”

Thiessen and Clare both are pleased that Bob always steps up to help out as he is a respected ambassador for Morden hockey and the community as a whole.

Host locations selected for 2024 fall events

Ontario to host U17 World Challenge, Atlantic Canada to welcome U18 Women’s National Championship and Para Cup

NR.037.24
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May 28, 2024

CALGARY, Alberta – Hockey Canada has announced the host communities for three of its fall events: the 2024 U17 World Challenge, 2024 U18 Women’s National Championship and 2024 Para Cup.

“These events play a critical role in the development of men’s, women’s and para hockey athletes, coaches, officials and staff, and we are thrilled to be bringing them to communities in Ontario, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island,” said Pat McLaughlin, chief operating officer and executive vice-president of strategy. “They are an excellent opportunity to create lifelong memories and leave a legacy in each community for years to come.”

The 2024 U17 World Challenge will be played Nov. 1-9 in Sarnia, Ontario. It is the seventh time Ontario will play host to the tournament, and the second time in Sarnia, following 2014.

The 2024 U18 Women’s National Championship will run Nov. 3-9 in Quispamsis, New Brunswick, bringing the event – and the future stars of the women’s game – to Atlantic Canada for the first time.

Canada’s National Para Hockey Team, which won a home-ice gold medal at the 2024 World Para Hockey Championship earlier this month, will compete against three countries at the 2024 Para Cup, which will be held Dec. 8-14 in Charlottetown, P.E.I. It is the fifth time the tournament will be held in the Birthplace of Confederation and coincides with the 50th anniversary of ParaSport & Recreation PEI.

Fans can sign up now to receive ticket information or become a Hockey Canada Insider and receive advanced access to tickets and other promotions.

“These tournaments are often once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for participants, families and fans,” said Dean McIntosh, vice-president of strategic partnerships and community impact. “I’m confident in the host committees in these three great hockey markets and know we are set up for success with the passionate hockey fans and volunteers in each community.”

In the spring, Canada’s U18 Women’s National Club Championship will be decided at the 2025 Esso Cup, April 20-26 in Lloydminster, Alberta , while the U18 Men’s National Club Championship will be up for grabs April 21-27 at the 2025 TELUS Cup in Chilliwack, B.C.

The host communities for the 2025 Centennial Cup, presented by Tim Hortons, and 2024 Junior A World Challenge will be announced at a later date.

To learn more about Hockey Canada, please visit HockeyCanada.ca , or follow along through social media on Facebook , X and Instagram .

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Ontario Red wins gold at 2023 National Women's U18 Championship

Quebec earns eighth silver medal; B.C. wins bronze on home ice

NR.080.23
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November 12, 2023

DAWSON CREEK, British Columbia – Ontario Red has won its sixth-consecutive gold medal at the National Women’s Under-18 Championship, defeating Quebec 3-2 in overtime at the Ovintiv Events Centre on Saturday night.

Ontario Red has captured gold in 13 of the 14 national championships since the inaugural tournament in 2001, while Quebec earned its eighth silver medal and first since 2016.

Mackenzie Alexander (Toronto, ON/Etobicoke, OWHA U22 Elite) scored the golden goal, knocking in a rebound on an Ontario Red power play just 25 seconds into overtime. The goal left her tied for the tournament lead in goals (five) and points (nine).

After a scoreless first period, Rosalie Tremblay (Sherbrooke, QC/Stanstead College, JWHL) struck first for Quebec 4:01 into the second period. Claire Murdoch (Toronto, ON/Burlington, OWHA U22 Elite) and Alexander scored power-play goals at just over two minutes apart in the third period to give Ontario Red its first lead before Victoria Veilleux (Saint-Georges, QC/Champlain-Lennoxville, RSEQ) tied the game for Quebec with 4:18 left to force overtime.

“I was just lucky enough to be right there to tap it in,” Alexander said of her overtime winner. “We are such a tight-knit group, so to win gold with these girls is such an honour. This is an absolute dream come true.”

Marilou Grenier (Québec, QC/Québec, LHEQ U18) made 43 saves in a terrific performance for the silver medallists, while Hannah Clark (Oshawa, ON/Etobicoke, OWHA U22 Elite) stopped 16 of 18 to record the win for Ontario Red.

“[Heading into overtime] I went in right away and told the girls we are winning this, we have this,” Ontario Red head coach Joe Butkevich said. “[This experience] has been phenomenal, from the host committee to the volunteers. It is a small-town community with a great feel; everyone wanted to put Dawson Creek on the map, and they did that this week.”

British Columbia takes down Alberta to win bronze

Earlier in the day, British Columbia earned its third bronze medal in the last four national championships, downing Alberta 3-1. After Chloe Primerano (North Vancouver, BC/RHA Kelowna, CSSHL) and Hannah Dods (Chilliwack, BC/Fraser Valley, BCEHL) scored for the hosts in the second period, Claire Carruthers (Crossfield, AB/Edmonton, AFHL) pulled Alberta within one on the power play 4:24 into the third. Danica Maynard (Osoyoos, BC/RHA Kelowna, CSSHL) added an insurance marker on the power play in the final five minutes to secure the bronze for B.C. on home ice.

“This has been really fun getting to bond with my new teammates, everyone has been so positive. The little things all added up; we worked together, bonded and came through today,” British Columbia captain Gracie Graham (Kelowna, BC/RHA Kelowna, CSSHL) said. “It was amazing to have all our fans out there watching us, you do not always get that experience. It was a great time.”

It is the fourth bronze medal for B.C. at the national championship and first since 2017.

Following the gold medal game, the tournament awards were announced:

Most valuable player: Sara Manness (La Salle, MB/Burlington, OWHA U22 Elite)
Top forward: Morgan Jackson (Courtenay, BC/Shawnigan Lake, CSSHL)
Top defence: Rosalie Breton (Saint-Bernard, QC/Limoilou, RSEQ)
Top goalie: Hannah Clark
Most sportsmanlike player: Mackenzie Alexander

For more information on Hockey Canada and the 2023 National Women’s Under-18 Championship, please visit HockeyCanada.ca, or follow along through social media on FacebookX and Instagram, and by using #U18Nationals.

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Jessie Olfert (left) and Jane Kish sit on the bench of Team Alberta's locker room, with team jerseys hanging in the stalls behind them.

Alberta coaches come back to Dawson Creek

Having competed as players at the 2012 National Women’s Under-18 Championship, Jane Kish and Jessie Olfert are returning to Dawson Creek—this time as coaches with Team Alberta

Shannon Coulter
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November 05, 2023

Jessie Olfert and Jane Kish can still remember the roar of the crowd when they stepped on the ice at the Ovintiv Events Centre. Hundreds of students cheering on British Columbia and Saskatchewan as the teams competed at the 2012 National Women’s Under-18 Championship.

“It’s the first time as a player that you’re experiencing a loud barn,” Olfert says. “Dawson Creek definitely showed up to fill the barn and cheer us on, which was pretty amazing.”

Eleven years later, Olfert and Kish are returning to the Peace Region—this time as members of the Alberta coaching staff. Although more than a decade has passed, the memories are still vivid for both ladies.

“I’m from Weyburn, Saskatchewan, originally, and then Dawson Creek had about around the same population,” Kish says. “I remember getting there and I was like, ‘This feels like a nice, close-knit community.’”

The quality of the hockey and the ability to connect with players from other provinces also stand out in their memories.

“It was the fastest hockey that I had played up to that point,” Olfert says. “I remember thinking, ‘This is so much fun. I want to find more ways that I can continue to be involved with this type of high-level game.’”

“The connections that I built and the experience that I had—it was very neat to be a part of,” Kish adds.

Action shots of Jessie Olfert (left) and Jane Kish (right) during the 2012 U18 Nationals

With that passion for high-level intensity hockey ignited in Dawson Creek, both Kish and Olfert pursued playing the game in university. Kish finished her career at the University of Regina as the all-time leader in wins (38) and shutouts (15). Olfert played at the University of Alberta for three years before she hung up her skates.

“I called a past coach of mine, who was a really big mentor in my life, and I asked her, ‘After you leave your sport, what do you do with your life?’ And she said, ‘You simply find another way to get involved in it.’”

For both Kish and Olfert, coaching was an excellent way to stay connected to the game they love in a new capacity. When Olfert made the decision not to play a fourth year with the Pandas, her coach Howie Draper helped her find her first coaching position to get her foot in the door.

After completing a kinesiology and education degree, Kish was thinking about balancing substitute teaching and goalie training after university when she was presented with the perfect job opportunity at the South Alberta Hockey Academy in Medicine Hat.

“It was the best of both worlds,” she says. “It’s allowed me to be an assistant coach and have my goalie stuff, but also doing all the fun teaching stuff in school.”

For Kish and Olfert, becoming a coach has been one of the best things that has helped the transition into life after playing high-level hockey.

“Ending the playing career, sometimes an athlete might get lost a little bit,” Olfert says. “It feels like a part of your life has kind of ended, which it has. So, harnessing all that energy into something else, that can be incredibly rewarding.”

“I love it because I’m learning every day,” Kish adds. “Seeing the sport in this light has been very cool for me because I’m like, ‘Oh my goodness, when I was a player, I didn’t even think about this.’ But now I’m seeing all these different things and it’s a different viewpoint. That has been very exciting for me.”

Jessie Olfert (left) and Jane Kish (right) in their 2012 headshots from the U18 Nationals

Despite competing against each other at U18 Nationals and in U SPORTS, Kish and Olfert didn’t officially meet until both were brought on to Alberta’s coaching staff ahead of the 2023 tournament. With the experience playing in the tournament themselves, it provides a unique perspective for coaching Alberta’s athletes.

“I remember going in there and being very nervous,” Kish says about playing in the tournament. “You want to do exceptionally well because you have all these expectations riding on you.”

“Sometimes I find your athletes forget that you had a childhood, that you grew up as well and you’ve been through some of these things,” Olfert adds. “They can look to you and be like, ‘What do we do here?’ And you actually have an answer because you know where their feet are, you know what’s going through their heads.”

The return to Dawson Creek for Kish and Olfert is full of nostalgia. It’s a familiar city, a familiar rink and a familiar schedule for what is in store for each team during the week. As two of 1,578 girls who have competed in this tournament since 2001, Kish and Olfert hope Team Alberta can embrace this opportunity and be truly present in this moment.

“This tournament is a reminder of what all these girls have gone through to get here. Now, they get to enjoy it and experience it just like Jessie and I did 11 years ago,” Kish says.

“Life has changed a lot in the last 11 years, but it’s also been a lot of really good changes and a lot of personal growth,” Olfert says. “This is really cool to have a full circle moment of returning back to Dawson Creek and getting to relive it, but in a very different way.”

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Hockey Canada confirms hosts for seven events

Hockey Canada confirms hosts for seven events

National and international tournaments will be hosted across five provinces in the 2023-24 season

NR.050.23
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July 27, 2023

CALGARY, AB – Hockey Canada has confirmed the dates and host communities for seven events taking place during the 2023-24 season, including the return of the National Women’s Under-18 Championship.

“Today is an exciting day for Hockey Canada as we announce seven events that play a critical role in the development of men’s, women’s and para hockey athletes, coaches and staff,” said Pat McLaughlin, chief operating officer of Hockey Canada. “We hope that hosting these tournaments will help introduce new fans to the game, create lifelong memories for Canadians and have a positive impact in each community long after the medals have been handed out.”

The 2023 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge will be played Nov. 2-11 in Charlottetown and Summerside, PE, marking the first time in the tournament’s 37-year history that it will be hosted in the province.

Featuring some of the best young women’s hockey players in Canada, the 2023 National Women’s Under-18 Championship will run Nov. 5-11 in Dawson Creek, BC, bringing the event back to the Peace Region for the first time since 2012.

Canada’s National Para Hockey Team will compete for gold with three other countries at the 2023 Para Hockey Cup, which will be held Dec. 3-9 in Quispamsis, NB, marking the fourth Hockey Canada event that Quispamsis has hosted.

Top Canadian and international players will be showcased at the 2023 World Junior A Hockey Challenge from Dec. 10-17 in Truro, NS, as the tournament returns to Atlantic Canada for the fourth time and to Truro for the second time.

In the spring, Canada’s Women’s U18 National Club Championship will be decided at the Esso Cup in Vernon, BC from April 21-27, while the Men’s U18 National Club Championship will be played April 22-28 in Membertou, NS.

The best Junior A teams in Canada will take to the ice at the 2024 Centennial Cup in Oakville, ON, with the Oakville Blades hosting the national championship from May 9-19.

“We are thrilled to share the list of communities that will host Hockey Canada events during the 2023-24 season,” said Dean McIntosh, vice-president of strategic partnerships and community impact. “The support we have received from host committees has been outstanding and we are confident that participants, volunteers, partners and fans will have fantastic experiences at each tournament.”

Ticket information for all seven events can be found here. Tournament schedules will be announced at a later date. 

For more information on Hockey Canada, please visit HockeyCanada.ca, or follow along through social media on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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Community comes together for Canadette

When Amy St. John was seriously injured in a tragic accident last December, her hockey family rallied to support her mother and four siblings

Katie Brickman
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May 26, 2022

When tragedy struck one of their own, the hockey community in Brampton came together.

Last December, Amy St. John, a 12-year-old goaltender for the U15 Brampton Canadettes, was seriously injured when she was struck and dragged by a school bus on her way to school.

Paramedics rushed her to Toronto Sick Kids Hospital, but she was transferred to St. Mike’s Hospital due to the extent of her injuries. Amy suffered a crushing injury to the back of her pelvis and significant nerve damage to her left leg, and needed reconstructive surgery.

When Tina Kelloway, vice-president of the Brampton Canadettes Girls Hockey Association (BCGHA), heard about Amy’s accident, she reached out to Amy’s mom, Joelle, right away to see how the association could support the St. John family.

“I was absolutely heartbroken and just thinking about it still makes me want to cry,” Kelloway says. “I’ve known Amy for years as she came up through our house league divisions and hockey was always a joy for her – she adored playing and she always has a smile on her face when she came to the rink.

“I can’t begin to imagine the trauma Amy was going through and what her family had to go through with her. It was such a horrendous event.”

Amy is the youngest of five children. With the accident, Joelle has been unable to work in order to care for her daughter.

With the significant financial strain to the family, as well as the extent of physiotherapy and care that Amy needed right after the accident and into the future, the Canadettes quickly came together to figure out a way to help.

“Another mom and I started the fundraising page, but asked the league to step in to help build awareness,” says Jill Hartling, the Canadettes team manager. “The girls were shocked and devastated for what happened to Amy and the team just wanted to jump on board and help her.”

Over the Christmas period, the team put together a gift basket with beauty products and arts and craft materials for Amy to help life her spirits.

“Amy was home at the time when we dropped that basket off and it was nice to talk with her and see how she was doing,” says Hartling. “The team rallied around the St. John family and they were always thinking of Amy this season.”

The league previously held a fundraiser in 2018 for another player who needed help after an accident and used that experience to build awareness for Amy and her family. Every spring, the BCGHA holds its annual Easter Tournament, which is one of the largest girls’ hockey tournaments in the world. This year, it included 380 teams.

Through that tournament, the Canadettes held a silent auction with various pieces of sports memorabilia, and shared Amy’s story to create awareness for donations.

“The majority of teams that participated in the tournament provided a donation or silent auction bids,” says Kelloway. “The vast support we and Amy received from the community was nice to see. We raised a lot of money for Amy’s recovery through the silent auction and donations.”

Donations came in from players, teams and anonymous donors across the Greater Toronto Area. Throughout the past few months, the league and the family has felt the power of the hockey community.

“This has shown just how amazing the hockey world is. The hockey community is incredible … how everyone comes together to rally to help others,” Kelloway says. “It is overwhelming how generous teams, players and families have been. You can see through the donations how supportive and encouraging everyone has been towards someone they may have never interacted with before. The generosity everyone has shown is incredible. After the last couple of years with the pandemic, this story shows the positive and caring side of community and that’s refreshing.”

While Amy has shown strength and determination in her recovery, her prognosis is still unknown. Kelloway and the BCGHA are hoping the funds raised will help the family in any way they need it.

In a written statement, Joelle shared how much everything has meant to her and the family: “As a mother going through one the hardest times, I am overwhelmed by the love and support of the Canadettes and how without hesitation, they rallied around my kids and I. When you have a child recovering from this type of accident, everything changes, and your child’s recovery must take priority. I am overwhelmed with gratitude.”

The fundraiser for Amy St. John is still ongoing and will remain open to donations.

Do you have an idea for a Community story? Let’s hear it!

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2022 host communities announced

Hockey Canada announces hosts for six events

Six tournaments will be hosted across six provinces between November 2022 and May 2023

NR.021.22
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May 11, 2022

CALGARY, Alta. – Hockey Canada has announced the dates and host communities for six events taking place during the 2022-23 season, including the return of the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, Canadian Tire Para Hockey Cup and World Junior A Challenge for the first time since 2019.

The communities of Langley and Delta, B.C., will host the 2022 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge from Nov. 5-12, bringing some of the top young players in the world to Metro Vancouver.

The 2022 Canadian Tire Para Hockey Cup will run from Nov. 27-Dec. 3 in Bridgewater, N.S., marking the first time that the event has been held in the Maritimes since 2016.

A showcase of Canadian and international Junior A talent, the 2022 World Junior A Challenge will take place in Cornwall, Ont., from Dec. 11-18.

Two of Hockey Canada’s national championships will return to their typical April schedule in 2023, with the puck dropping at the Esso Cup in Prince Albert, Sask., on April 23 and the TELUS Cup beginning April 24 in Saint-Hyacinthe, Que.

The Centennial Cup, presented by Tim Hortons, will be hosted in Portage la Prairie, Man., in May 2023, bringing Canada’s National Junior A Championship to Manitoba for a fourth time.

“We are excited to announce the host communities for six events taking place in 2022-23, and we cannot wait to bring some of the top hockey events in the world to fans across Canada,” said Dean McIntosh, vice-president of events and properties for Hockey Canada. “Hosting events of this magnitude would not be possible without our incredible local partners, and we are very grateful for their support as we count down to puck drop.”

Tickets are available now for the 2022 World Junior A Challenge in Cornwall, Ont., at HockeyCanada.ca/Tickets, while on-sale dates for the remaining events will be announced at a later date.

For more information on Hockey Canada, please visit HockeyCanada.ca, become a Hockey Canada Insider, or follow along on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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Helping in a time of need

When a historic weather event caused devastating flooding and landslides in British Columbia, the hockey community came together to help affected residents and teams

Shannon Coulter
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January 17, 2022

The hockey community is unlike any other. In times of need, hockey families across the country have proved time and time again that they are ready and willing to help their communities.

When record-breaking rainfall hit southwestern British Columbia in November, several local hockey associations came together to support communities that were impacted by devastating flooding and landslides. Here are a few ways these associations and teams worked to help.

Summerland Minor Hockey Association

The Princeton Posse may be a long-time rival of the Summerland Jets, but that rivalry was set aside to put community first after the destructive flooding. When Summerland’s U9 team hosted the Posse, players, parents and staff organized a food drive to send some essential items back with the Posse’s families. Along with the food drive, the team made goody bags for each Princeton player that included packs of Pokemon and hockey cards.

Greater Vernon Minor Hockey Association

After hosting the Merritt Centennials, the Vernon Junior Vipers’ U11 Development C team invited its opponents for a pizza dinner in a dressing room. Players from the Vipers helped to set up the dressing room before the game, hoping the small gesture would make the Centennials feel supported by other communities in B.C.

There was another act of kindness by the association when the Abbotsford Hawks, who were supposed to travel to Vernon for a tournament, had to cancel their travel plans due to the flooding. According to the GVMHA’s Facebook page, participants and spectators at the tournament worked together to raise $1,000 for the Hawks ahead of the holiday season.

Penticton Vees — British Columbia Hockey League

Following a weekend win in Trail, B.C., the BCHL’s Victoria Grizzlies travelled to Penticton for what was originally planned to be an overnight stay. However, with the historic storm, the team was stuck and unable to travel home.

With the unexpected extended stay, the Penticton Vees stepped up and gave the Grizzlies a dressing room and ice to practice on while they were in town.

"When the puck drops, we want to beat the other team, but we're partners and we wanted to make sure we made their stay as comfortable as possible," Vees president, head coach and general manager Fred Harbinson told CTV News.

Squamish Minor Hockey Association

After the Squamish Eagles U13 A2 team had a game against Chilliwack cancelled due to the storm, the players decided to run a food drive instead. The team gathered outside a local grocery store to encourage shoppers to help fill a hockey net with food to support the Fraser Valley flood victims.

With support from the Cloverdale Community Kitchen for distribution, the Eagles raised $530 and gathered several boxes of food for those affected in Chilliwack.

Mission Minor Hockey Association

When the Mission Stars heard about the historic flooding, the association organized a “Fill the Trailer“ event. From non-perishable food items to things like blankets, winter jackets, socks and toiletries, the Stars ran the event for four hours at a community centre all to give back to communities affected by the storms.

Ridge Meadows Minor Hockey Association

The Ridge Meadows Minor Hockey U18 C1 team was preparing for a hockey tournament in Abbotsford when the flooding occurred. When the team saw the devastating impact in Abbotsford, it decided to donate $300 to the Abbotsford Disaster Relief Fund to support Abbotsford hockey families and others affected by the flooding.

Cloverdale Minor Hockey Association

The Cloverdale Minor Hockey Association had previously planned a 50/50 draw for its U21 team in December. After the destructive storms in November, the association also wanted to use its fundraiser to support the flood relief efforts. Cloverdale announced that 25 per cent of the proceeds from its 50/50 draw would support victims of the flooding.

North Delta Minor Hockey Association

The North Delta Minor Hockey Association decided to organize an association-wide bottle drive to support the residents of Merritt, B.C., who were evacuated due to flooding. The idea was created and spearheaded by Tam Manery, who was inspired to run the drive when her son’s tournament in Merritt was cancelled.

Although the weather could have been better during the bottle drive, parents and players helped with picking up and sorting bottles. The association says there was a steady stream of bottles and generous cash donations, which will all go towards a great cause.

Thank you to these hockey teams, and to everyone who stepped up to help their surrounding communities in a time of need. Your positive impacts in your communities have inspired us all to make a difference.

Do you have an idea for a Community story? Let’s hear it!

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Rallying in lavender

With sticks wrapped in lavender tape, players from Hockey Regina are leading the charge to raise money for the Canadian Cancer Society through Hockey Fights Cancer

Shannon Coulter
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November 19, 2021

Certain colours can hold special meanings and unite communities. For example, when Canadians think of red, we think about the pride of representing the Maple Leaf.

In Regina, Sask., the colour lavender is the talk of the town. That’s because Hockey Regina is running its Lavender Days campaign in association with the Canadian Cancer Society.

“Cancer touches so many, and it’s important to me to have the players remember that there’s bigger stuff than them,” says Joanne Eberle, the media and events manager with Hockey Regina. “The kids really take ownership of it.”

Now in its third year, about 170 teams in Regina participate in the fundraising drive to support Hockey Fights Cancer through November and December. Lavender tape is put on sticks, decals are placed on helmets and the two AAA teams in town wear lavender jerseys that are later auctioned off for the campaign. From Timbits U7 to U18, the players on each team decide how they want to raise money and give back to their community.

“They were pieing their coach, they were doing candy guess jars, they were doing all kinds of stuff,” Eberle says. “We have some teams that will shovel snow, they’ll donate their allowance, or they’ll do a read-a-thon or a walk-a-thon or exercise in some way. We really left it open to all the teams.”

Eight-year-old Aliya Hartney had her own creative idea to help raise money for Lavender Days.

“I did a video and I talked about cancer and why we help people because you want to help people to not lose their loved ones from cancer,” she says.

That sentiment hits close to home for Hartney as her grandmother died from brain cancer when her mother was only four years old. Her video helped to raise $1,505 for Lavender Days.

“I like helping people,” she says. “The more money we raise, the closer we can get to find a cure for cancer.”

The campaign takes on a deeper meaning when people in the hockey community have personal connections to cancer. Following the conclusion of a previous Lavender Days campaign, a player received a cancer diagnosis. Their team responded by bringing back lavender tape for their sticks to show support.

“It’s something that doesn’t just stick with them for the two months that we do it,” Eberle says. “It’s something that they carry through the whole season.”

For the special AAA Lavender Games, each home team chose someone associated with the team that had a cancer story for a ceremonial puck drop. The Regina Pat Canadians chose a 12-year-old hockey player who was battling cancer. The Regina Rebels chose their trainer’s two-year-old nephew, who was also fighting cancer.

“If there was a dry eye in that house, I’d be surprised,” Eberle says. “It was such a big impact, having this little guy come out there and drop the puck and knowing why he was there.”

Daren Haygarth has been a hockey coach for close to 20 years. The support for Lavender Days in his community has had a profound effect on him based on his family’s connection to cancer.

“My sister-in-law has gone through nine surgeries related to a breast cancer diagnosis and gone through chemo,” he says. “When my son tapes up his sticks and writes her name on them, all of those things tug at my heartstrings a lot.”

Last May, Haygarth began his own personal cancer journey. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer and underwent successful surgery in July 2020. Haygarth initially kept his diagnosis private, but over time he began to tell his friends in the hockey community.

“Of course, my family was super supportive, but you start to realize how supportive the hockey world is,” he says. “The support was just overwhelming.”

Haygarth is now cancer free, but the support he received from his community after his experience reinforced how many positives come from a fundraising campaign like Lavender Days.

“There’s no such thing as a tough time where other people won’t be there to help you through it. I think that’s what I’ve really come to appreciate about Lavender Days and the fundraising efforts that go with it. It’s just raising that kind of awareness that things are bigger than ourselves.”

His U13 AA team, the Regina Royals, is running 50/50 draws this month to support Lavender Days.

“I wasn’t surprised [when] one of our parents won the 50/50 and they just donated it all back,” he says. “Our goal is to raise over $1,000 this month, and we’re way beyond probably going to meet that goal.”

Although Hockey Regina couldn’t do as much fundraising last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it has managed to raise over $26,000 in the past two years. Earlier this month, Hockey Regina’s youth players were the recipients of a philanthropic award for Outstanding Youth Philanthropist for their efforts with Lavender Days.

“That’s really exciting for them,” Eberle says. “It’s a youth award, so it doesn’t have anything to do with the adults… it’s about the players and what they’ve done as a whole.

“This is a great way to show kids that your little efforts can turn into something big.”

The goal this year is to raise over $20,000 for Hockey Fights Cancer. Haygarth credits Eberle for leading the creation of positive social interaction between teams while raising money for a good cause.

“It takes somebody within the organization to spearhead these things and create that culture shift,” he says. “I think Joanne’s been a big catalyst here in Regina towards thinking a little differently about hockey and what being a hockey player means.”

For Eberle, the fact the entire community is rallying around a unified cause while decked out in lavender warms her heart.

“Being able to do this as a minor hockey association as a whole is really exciting,” she says. “It unites everybody. Hockey is competitive, but they [put] that aside and turn into one big team. I absolutely love that.”

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Blair Olsen and Haley Patyna holding an AED

Coming together to save a life

Three Calgary Buffalo Hockey Association trainers were in the right place at the right time, and their quick-thinking – and a powerful community response – saved a player’s life

Shannon Coulter
|
October 28, 2021

Sometimes, decisions are made in life that are meant to be. Just like how the little voice in trainer Haley Patyna’s head told her not to forget her medical bag as she went to Cardel Rec South in Calgary on Oct. 7.

Or how trainers Shyin Dixon and Blair Olsen weren’t originally supposed to be at the rink that night, but they joined Patyna to assist her U21 team with baseline concussion testing.

“Looking back, it was kind of wild because it was supposed to be just me,” says Patyna, 24. “But luckily, it was all three of us.”

Ultimately those two decisions are a part of the reason why a life was saved that evening.

As the clock ticked past 10 p.m., only Patyna’s U21 team and a 55-plus recreational league remained at the rink. With their testing complete, the Calgary Buffalo Hockey Association trainers were socializing and catching up in the hallway.

“These two guys came out of the rink where [the recreational league was playing], and they said that they needed an AED [automated external defibrillator],” says Olsen, 23. “They said they had a guy on the ice that was having a heart attack.”

The three trainers sprung into action. Olsen went to grab the AED located at the arena while Patyna grabbed her medical bag. Patyna and Dixon were first on the ice to assist the player.

“He was very obviously in medical distress, really struggling to breathe,” says Dixon, 24.

With the AED in hand, Olsen joined her fellow trainers on the ice, and they began to set up the defibrillator on the player. Dixon began CPR when they noticed the man had stopped breathing and they couldn’t find a pulse.

The trainers’ interventions with the AED worked, and within a few minutes the man was fully conscious and speaking again.

“It wasn’t long at all, granted when we were out there it felt like eternity,” Patyna says. “It was maybe five minutes before he was fully aware, he knew where he was and he knew what had happened.”

As a part of their preparedness for every game, trainers have an action plan to assign who will do what role in an emergency. But the three trainers were not the only ones who played a key role in this situation. The recreational league team on the ice was actively helping in any way it could, from taking off the player’s equipment, calling 911 and providing towels and blankets.

“Even before the paramedics showed up, the team was donating all of their jerseys to help keep him warm on the ice,” Dixon says. “The team was a fantastic help during that, they were there for anything that we needed.”

“I hope those guys give themselves credit for it, too,” Olsen says. “They were quick to give us credit for it, but their effort was just as important.”

As the paramedics arrived and loaded the player onto the stretcher, he was chatting and joking with his teammates.

“It was definitely a relief to see him going off to the hospital in high spirits and in a good mood,” Patyna says.

Since the night of the emergency, the community reaction Dixon, Patyna and Olsen have experienced for saving a man’s life has been surreal.

“I did not expect it to blow up as much as it did,” Olsen says. “When we left the rink, we just were happy that it had a happy outcome.”

“To all of us, we just did what we were trained to do,” Patyna adds. “We don’t do it to expect a reward out of it. We do it because we love it.”

The incident has also re-confirmed the importance of having AEDs located in public areas.

“They’re very straightforward to use. They come with very detailed instructions,” Dixon says. “Even if it saves one life, it’s 100 per cent worth it every single time.”

“My dad was talking about getting one installed in their office after the whole situation,” Olsen adds.

This past weekend, the player returned to the rink to look for the trainers who saved his life. Olsen and Patyna were there, and they got to speak with him and his family in person to see how he was doing since the emergency.

“That was really nice,” Olsen says. “It was good to see him in as good of a condition as he’s in now.”

Looking back, two things stand out to the trainers: how important it is to always be prepared and how powerful a community response can be in emergencies.

“That was really a team effort that night from everyone,” Olsen says. “If I were to ever go through this again, I would just remember that the people around me are my team, use them.”

“I was amazed at the sense of community that night,” Dixon adds. “It’s insane how people just come together to help one person.”

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Hockey Canada statement announcing fall event cancellations

NR.044.21
|
September 27, 2021

CALGARY, Alta. – Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the difficult decision has been made to cancel the 2021 National Women’s Under-18 Championship, 2021 Canadian Tire Para Hockey Cup and 2021 World Junior A Challenge. The following is a statement on behalf of Hockey Canada from Tom Renney, chief executive officer, and Scott Smith, president and chief operating officer:

“Despite a strong desire to work with three great communities to host the top players at various levels across the country this season, the health and safety of all participants and the communities at large continues to be of the utmost importance to Hockey Canada. The ongoing pandemic, in addition to the vaccination status of some international teams, has left us with no other option. We believe the decision to cancel these fall events is the safest decision given the ongoing uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic at a local level, as well as the uncertainty around countries and regions being able to safely compete.

Hockey Canada is grateful for the continued support of local host committees and event partners, including B.C. Hockey, Hockey Eastern Ontario, Hockey Nova Scotia and the Canadian Junior Hockey League, as well as the communities of Bridgewater, N.S., Cornwall, Ont., and Dawson Creek, B.C., and all local and provincial funding partners. Our organization is appreciative of the commitment and support of all stakeholders to host these events and we look forward to showcasing our national events and all participants to fans next year.”

Hockey Canada will continue to work with event stakeholders to host the spring 2022 national championships and to continue to investigate opportunities to prepare Canadian athletes to represent Canada at the Olympic Winter Games, Paralympic Winter Games, IIHF world championships and other international events.

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For more information:

Esther Madziya
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 284-6484 

[email protected] 

Spencer Sharkey
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 777-4567

[email protected]

Jeremy Knight
Manager, Corporate Communications
Hockey Canada

(647) 251-9738

[email protected]

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