Affiliate Sites expand
Hockey Canada logo
Laurence Beaulieu BFL FCOTY

Sharing her passion for hockey

The national winner of the 2022 BFL Female Coach of the Year (Competitive), Laurence Beaulieu is driven by her love of the game as she climbs the coaching ladder

François Lafleur
|
June 22, 2022
Just a few years ago, Laurence Beaulieu would never have seen herself as a full-time hockey coach.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Montreal – playing five years with the Carabins and winning a U SPORTS national title in 2016 – and then a specialized graduate diploma (DESS) in sports management from HEC Montreal, the defenceman joined the Canadiennes de Montréal of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL) in 2017.

She spent only one season with the Canadiennes, calling it a career at the age of 26 to become a coach.

“It was more or less by chance,” says Beaulieu, the national winner of the BFL Female Coach of the Year in the Competitive category. “I started [coaching] when I was 16. From then until my year with the Canadiennes, I was a summer coach at the AAA level. I was a private coach for both boys and girls, but I never really thought about coaching a full season. I was so overwhelmed with what I was doing as an athlete that I never thought there would be a next step.”

Beaulieu, 30, got a full-time job as a player development assistant with Hockey Quebec, but to do so, she had to give up her on-ice career. The benefits, though, were obvious.

“My work at Hockey Quebec gave me the opportunity to learn more about development,” says the Stoneham, Que., native. “Someone from the Richelieu region approached me because he really wanted to manage a team with a woman. I don’t know how he found me or what contact it was, but it was the father of a player I had met, and he said that he really wanted to run the [Cégep André-Laurendeau] team with me. I told him I wanted to be an assistant, but nothing more. Then I found out that I liked it more than I thought I would.”

The following year, Beaulieu became the head coach of the Remparts du Richelieu U18 AAA team in addition to continuing her position as assistant coach with Cégep André-Laurendeau.

“I wasn’t surprised that I liked coaching, but that I liked it so much. [I liked that] you do it all year long, on weekends, in the evenings... I wanted to do it more than two months a year,” she says.

Beaulieu really enjoys teaching the kids. The fact her players have not yet peaked allows her to maximize the role she plays in their development.

“Those players still have fun in everything they do,” she says. “They really appreciate the investment you make and the time you take for them. That’s something I really like about this age group. They are passionate and still have plenty of goals to achieve at the college or national levels. It’s an age group that is full of goals and potential.”

Still, it’s very important to have fun on the ice at that age. While Beaulieu is well aware of this, she also believes that it is possible to have fun and push yourself at the same time.

“I want the girls to like to surpass themselves while knowing that it’s always necessary to have fun," explains Beaulieu, who served as defence coach with the Titans du Cégep Limoilou last season. “It’s possible to have fun while working 100% all the time. If you go out on the ice every day and you love what you do, you will improve. At the end of the year, those girls come to me for more feedback, to watch more videos. It’s a teachable mentality and the girls want to get more. In the end, it works!”

It’s clear the young coach is passionate about her sport, whether she was on the ice or behind the bench.

But nowhere is that passion more evident than when she is able to share it with others.

“I’m very proud when I see a player’s passion grow over the course of the year," Beaulieu says. “She already loved hockey, but she didn’t realize how much she loved it for details that she probably wasn’t aware of at first. As time goes on, as she practices things, she asks for even more feedback and information. I’m very proud of being able to pass it on; it’s my greatest accomplishment even if it’s not really mine. It takes an athlete who is willing to do it to make it there, but it’s something I really enjoy doing.”

After coaching at the college and U18 AAA levels, Beaulieu does not intend to stop there. Even if there is no rush, she is starting to think about the next steps she could take.

“Obviously, I want to get as high as I can, but I think there are steps to take before that,” she says. Right now, I am in Limoilou and I am really proud of what I am doing. Maybe my next step would be to join Team Quebec at the provincial level. That’s the next step I want to take, but I’m not setting any limits. We’ll see where it takes me.”

Jamie Keeley.

A hockey mom, a hockey coach, a hockey leader

Armed with a passion for helping women find confidence behind the bench, Jamie Keeley has created opportunities in her association, in Calgary and across Alberta

Jason La Rose
|
July 05, 2024
The genesis of Jamie Keeley’s minor hockey coaching journey was about as Canadian as it gets – just a parent wanting to enjoy the hockey experience with their child.

“It was seeing my son on the ice and just having that want and desire to be out there with him and experience what he was experiencing, helping him learn,” she says.

That was almost six years ago.

Today, Keeley is the national BFL CANADA Women in Coaching Award recipient in the Community category, and the creator of a thriving coach development program with the Knights Hockey Club in Calgary.

“I think it’s important for women to realize that they have so much to offer and that what they have to offer is recognized and is appreciated,” Keeley says of the BFL CANADA honour. “This award gives that; it brings light to [the fact] that we can do this. We’re here now, and let’s keep blazing trails and breaking ceilings and all of those amazing things.”

A ringette player growing up who dabbled in hockey when the boys’ team in her northern Saskatchewan community needed bodies to fill out the lineup, Keeley had never given much thought to coaching until her son got into the game at the Timbits U7 level in the fall of 2018.

When she wasn’t selected to coach the following season in U9, her attention turned back to her first athletic love and she joined the Bow View Ringette Association, working as an assistant coach and head coach at U10 and U12.

“[It was about] learning and gaining the confidence that I needed to step back into hockey and make a difference,” she says of her three years with Bow View.

The word that continually comes up is process – Keeley spent those seasons observing other coaches, ensuring she was surrounded by the right people, building her coaching support system, filling her toolbox and learning how to be a coach in the competitive space.

One of her biggest takeaways? No one does it alone.

“What I believe makes the most successful coach is to surround themselves with people for the skills that they don’t currently have,” Keeley says. “And so for me, I always make sure that I have a very, very rounded team of people that can offset the skills that I don’t have, that I can learn from.”

When the 2022-23 hockey season rolled around, Keeley was ready to get back behind the bench with her son at the U11 level.

But she didn’t come back to hockey empty-handed. In addition to the skills she had learned with Bow View, Keeley came armed with a proposal for a coach development program targeted at women.

“The program was not so much about giving women all the tools they needed to be a coach,” she says. “It starts with having the confidence to put up their hand and say, ‘Yeah, I have something to offer.’ It was really about just helping the ladies to make that decision to put up their hand and to help them have that confidence to step on the ice.

“One of the objectives was to make sure that we had strong female leadership to keep girls in sport, because that’s important. What if we have strong leadership from the same gender on the ice? Would that make a difference? Would girls want to stay [involved in hockey] if they saw strong female coaches on the ice?”

The association was quick to jump at the proposal, and Keeley was off and running.

“Where we started was I held one on-ice session to begin with, and we had 12 ladies that put up their hand and came out,” she says. “And really what it was about more than anything was just to see what this program was all about.

“I had an hour-and-a-half ice time, and I think we spent 20 minutes on the ice. What we spent more time doing was talking about if this was the right fit for them, if they had the confidence to put their skates on and what this was going to look like if they actually got selected to be on the ice with their kid. It was amazing to hear females talk about challenges and obstacles and barriers, and me as a part of launching this program, being able to provide that space to have those open and honest conversations that they wouldn’t have anywhere else.”

What was originally meant to be a local program for women in the Knights program rapidly turned into something much bigger, much to Keeley’s delight.

Next was a training course, with the help of Hockey Alberta – the province’s first women-only Coach 2 clinic.

“At first, I was just opening it to the [local] group that had shown interest. Then we decided to open up to all of Alberta. And so on a very snowy November day, we had 24 females sitting in a room from across Alberta. We did the four-hour classroom, and then the next day we met for another seven [hours].

“That’s where the network started. A lot of us still keep in contact, and we send out emails to each other, and when there is an event happening for all female coaches, we make sure that we share and attend.”

In that first season, nine women were behind the bench with the Knights Hockey Club. During the 2023-24 season, that number grew to 14 – two as head coaches and 12 as assistants.

Keeley hosted a start-of-season meeting in September to teach coaches how to prepare a season plan and build practice plans, and had regular check-ins with every coach involved in the program, working through any challenges they were facing and ensuring they were getting what they needed from the experience.

She also continues to work closely with Hockey Calgary, participating in ongoing opportunities for women in coaching, including on- and off-ice development sessions.

But her No. 1 role is still being a mom, and there are few things that give her more joy than sharing hockey with her son. This season, Keeley led the U13 Tier 4 team.

“I always ask if he wants me to coach,” she says of her son. “And that even existed when I went and coached ringette because, of course, I wasn’t with him. I was always a non-parent coach in ringette, and I would ask him every season, ‘Are you okay if I do this?’

“When I coached the U12 AA team [in the spring of 2022], I was away quite a bit. We were on the ice five times a week. That was the first time he ever said to me, ‘Mom, I miss you. Can you come coach me?’

“We’re just in the midst of filling out our application for this upcoming season, which is his second year of U13. And he said, ‘Mom, are you going to coach again?’ I said, ‘Do you want me to?’ He said, ‘As long as you want to.’ So yes, I’m going to apply to be a coach again.”

That’s a lucky son, and a lucky association that gets to benefit from what Keeley has to offer.

But ask her, and she’ll tell you just the opposite – that she’s the lucky one, benefitting from what the players can offer her.

“I have had some really amazing experiences both on and off the ice, just learning from these players. The amount, if you sit back and you listen, that you can learn is just unbelievable, and they always make you smile.”

View More
Shakita Jensen.

Giving back through coaching

Guided by influential coaches during her playing days, Shakita Jensen knew she wanted to give back to the game she loved by becoming a coach in her hometown

Shannon Coulter
|
July 04, 2024

It was a full circle moment for Shakita Jensen when she stepped on the bench as head coach of Team Northwest Territories at the 2024 Arctic Winter Games.

In 2014, she played in the tournament in Alaska. A decade later, she returned to Alaska to coach.

“I felt a lot of emotions,” says Jensen, the national BFL CANADA Women in Coaching Award winner in the Competitive category.

Jensen, from the Tahltan First Nation, started as an on-ice volunteer with the Yellowknife Minor Hockey Association in 2014. Since then, her passion for giving back has driven her to continue her coaching journey.

“The hockey community has given me so much that I felt an obligation to want to give back to the hockey community in any way I could,” Jensen says. “When I got back from school, I was like, ‘I should probably try coaching, see if I like it.’ And of course I liked it right away.”

In addition to giving back, a few impactful women who coached Jensen growing up opened her eyes to her own potential journey.

“Having my first female head coach was super cool, and that made me want to get into coaching,” she says. “Growing up, being sometimes the only girl on my hockey teams, not really many women coaching, and then having my first few female coaches thinking, ‘Wow they’re so cool, I want to be like them one day.’”

The position of being a role model and a leader for youth in her community was also a driving factor in wanting to become a coach.

“I’ve had so many influential coaches in my own playing career. [There are] everlasting impacts they can have on their players, not only on the ice, but off the ice as people as well, what you can teach your players as a coach. I felt that I had lots to offer [as a head coach] and I wanted to be there for kids.”

Shakita Jensen coaching Team NWT at a One For All practice.

 Jensen was in the right place at the right time to get her first head coaching position. There was a shortage of coaches in her association, so they asked Jensen—who initially applied to be an on-ice helper—if she wanted to be a head coach.

“It was a lot of quick learning and kind of being thrown into it, but I felt confident in myself the whole time,” the 26-year-old explains. “I just tried to network with past coaches as much as I could to have a successful season, which I think I did.”

Early in her career, Jensen decided to apply to be a part of the 2023 Canada Winter Games coaching staff for Team NWT, but she wasn’t selected. However, one of the coaches recommended she apply for the Aboriginal Apprentice Coach program with the Aboriginal Sports Circle.

“They chose one woman and one man from the territory, and it could be from any sport, so I knew that it was a bit of a long shot, but when I heard I got in for hockey, I was super excited.”

Through the apprenticeship program, Jensen was able to attend last year’s Canada Winter Games on Prince Edward Island and work with Team NWT leading up to the event. Afterwards, she became an assistant coach for Team NWT for the 2023 Arctic Winter Games before being promoted to head coach for the 2024 tournament.

“I think that definitely opened a lot of doors,” she says. “It was cool to see the progression and to allow me to gain all the tools and resources that I needed to prepare my team.”

As head coach of Team NWT, the location of each player’s hometowns can often be difficult to navigate—sometimes resulting in very few full team practices before an event.

“It was definitely a challenge wanting to build your team culture and work on your strategies and trying to prepare for a high-performance, short-term competition when your team is scattered all over the territories, in some places that are fly in/fly out or just a lot of money barriers,” she explains. “I think one thing that was super helpful was our ability to connect online leading up to the Games.”

Another huge opportunity for Jensen’s team this year was February’s One For All event in Yellowknife. With more than 300 participants over four days, the event celebrated women’s and girls’ hockey with Try Hockey events, on-ice skills, coaching clinics and more.

Team Northwest Territories and Team Nunavut gathered to practice and face off in an exhibition game.

“It was an overwhelming successful weekend—players putting on their hockey gear for the first time and then other players who were about to be graduating minor hockey,” says Jensen, who volunteered with the event. “It felt super to contribute to that program, give back and hopefully keep that program on a yearly basis here.”

When Jensen found out she was the BFL CANADA Women in Coaching Award winner for Hockey North in the Competitive category, she was shocked.

“I was so surprised, kind of caught off guard. I felt so much pride and gratitude.”

Jensen was unsure if she would be able to compete with the great provincial and territorial candidates across the country. But when she saw Cassie Campbell-Pascall on a video call congratulating her for winning the national award, she was in disbelief all over again.

“There are really no words,” she says of winning the national award. “There are so many influential coaches who go unrecognized sometimes for all the work they do. [I’m] really feeling proud of myself, but also feeling proud of everyone else across Canada who’s doing so much for the women’s game.”

View More
Kelly Paton with the BFL Canada Women in Coaching logo.

The importance of mentorship

When Kelly Paton began her coaching journey after she hung up her skates, it was her coaching mentors that were key to helping her develop confidence behind the bench

Shannon Coulter
|
July 03, 2024

Even as a player, Kelly Paton had always taken an interest in what happens behind the scenes in hockey. She took opportunities to learn more about the game from her coaching staff, including how staff helped to support student-athletes while she attended the University of New Hampshire.

That, along with her strong hockey IQ, led Paton’s head coach, Brian McCloskey, to give her a piece of advice: “Patty, you’re a coach.”

“He just kept telling me I was a coach,” says Paton, the national BFL CANADA Women in Coaching Award winner in the High Performance category. “Certainly, I was interested; I didn’t have my mind made up. I wanted to find ways to stay connected to the game and at that point, with some limitations of hockey beyond college, that was probably my best pathway for it.”

A Woodstock, Ontario, native who has spent the last six seasons as head coach of the women’s hockey team at Wilfrid Laurier University, Paton grew up in an athletic family. When her older brother started playing hockey, Paton wanted to start playing as well.

“Many days were spent in our cul-de-sac; I got stuck in the goalie position and his friends would shoot many pucks and balls my way,” Paton says. “That’s probably where my interest started.”

Paton initially played boys hockey in her hometown until switching to girls’ hockey with the London Devilettes. After her final year of minor hockey, she spent four years at New Hampshire, serving as captain and finishing as a top-three finalist for the Patty Kazmaier Award as a senior in the 2009-10 season.

“[It] helped shape my confidence in my ability to play the game, but then big picture, how there are ways where I could give back and help the development of others,” Paton says of her time as a Wildcat. “I think that’s where I had some affirmation that my IQ for the game was pretty good and that aligned really well with coaching.”

Kelly Paton coaches the Laurier women's team during a break in play.

After completing her undergraduate degree, Paton wasn’t sure how she wanted to incorporate coaching into her life, whether as a volunteer or as a career. But after finishing a graduate degree at Mercyhurst University and then living on Vancouver Island for a while, she decided to return home to Southwestern Ontario and get back involved with the game she loved.

She reconnected with her minor hockey roots by taking on a coaching role with the Devilettes’ junior program. There, Paton credits Dwayne Blais for being one of her mentors as she began her coaching journey.

“I was the head coach, but he certainly was the one I leaned on the most with being mentored and learning how to manage conflict, how to manage expectation, but more importantly just building practice plans that supported development.”

After reconnecting with one of her junior coaches, Paton was presented with an opportunity to join Western University as an assistant coach.

“I walked into a space where [the Mustangs] were coming off a national championship, which came with a lot of expectations,” Paton says. “I was happy we were still able to carry out some of that momentum and be a top performer in the OUA.”

Paton served as an assistant coach for two years before being promoted to head coach at Western. Ahead of the 2018-19 season, she made the move to Laurier.

“We’re coming off a great season this past year and our leadership group has done an excellent job of really stepping into a space where they’re allowing me to coach, which is awesome,” she says. “We’re certainly a team that carries high expectations, knowing that we still have responsibility to carry the legacy of Laurier hockey. […] The goal is to keep moving forward. I certainly think we’re in the right pathway to do that, and a lot of that is a testament to the players that we have in our program now.”

Kelly Paton looks on from the bench.

Reflecting on her time coaching in U SPORTS, one of the bigger transitions for Paton was navigating how to match her communication to each individual player on her team.

“In the university sector, it can get really challenging to satisfy 25 athletes with all different learning styles and still walk away and feel like we got through what we needed to get through today,” she explains. “Now with experience, I’ve learned that’s part of the process. But when I was younger, that day-to-day management of seeing where everybody’s at—generally the only way to figure that out is to ask, and that’s where the communication piece is.”

Building relationships has been key to Paton’s coaching journey, and she is grateful to have found a support system in her corner as she continues to develop as a coach.

“It’s been a pretty critical piece to finding confidence in myself,” Paton says of her mentors. “There’s been a couple that have been instrumental with shaping my coaching style, my communication style, my knowledge of the game. Dwayne was a big piece of that, Rachel Flanagan, and even my college coach, Brian. I still speak with him [14 years after graduating].”

For those looking to begin their coaching journeys or advance their coaching career into the high-performance area, Paton’s advice would be to stay honest and accountable.

“When mistakes happen, don’t shy away from taking ownership of that. If there are areas that are challenging or you need advice on, that’s where that mentorship really comes in handy; having somebody that’s a neutral soundboard that’s going to help you make decisions without carried bias or carried experiences.

“I’m really grateful that I’ve had those opportunities to have good people around me and have the confidence that went up when mistakes are made, and that helps trickle into the player group as well.”

View More

SportsPay becomes Preferred Payment Partner of Hockey Canada

National partnership effective immediately

NR.035.24
|
May 22, 2024

CALGARY, Alberta – Hockey Canada has announced SportsPay as its Preferred Payment Partner, through a national partnership which is effective immediately.

A leading payment provider for amateur sports organizations in Canada, SportsPay is proudly Canadian and has been a long-time supporter of amateur hockey in Canada.

Through its partnership with Hockey Canada, SportsPay will support the processing of online transactions, including through the Hockey Canada Registry.

“SportsPay prides itself on providing user-friendly experiences to Canadian sport organizations, and we are excited to officially welcome them as Hockey Canada’s Preferred Payment Partner to deliver those experiences to local hockey associations across the country,” said Dean McIntosh, Hockey Canada’s senior vice-president of revenue, fan experience and community impact. “The Hockey Canada Registry is used to process hundreds of thousands of registrations each season, and through our partnership with SportsPay, we’re pleased that the platform will continue to meet the needs of our participants and associations.”

"I am very excited to enhance our 20-year relationship with Hockey Canada and to support minor hockey across Canada," said Will Gravlev, president of POSconnect Inc. and creator of SportsPay. "Everyone at SportsPay is continuously committed to providing simple and effective payments for amateur sports and keeping leagues focused on what matters."

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

View More
Kaylee Grant instructs a group of young girls on the ice at the One For All event in Yellowknife.

Making an impact in the North

A game-changer in women’s hockey, Kaylee Grant tirelessly gives her time across the territories, volunteering to ensure opportunities exist for women and girls

Katie Brickman
|
April 14, 2024

The first thing Kaylee Grant did when she moved to Yellowknife was find a hockey team.

The operating engineer took a one-year term to gain experience in her industry. Twelve years later, she’s still in the Northwest Territories and hockey has been a reason why she calls it home.

“You gravitate to what you know, and I knew sports,” Grant says. “When you join a sport, you instantly have 17 friends and a group where you feel accepted through a common goal and interest. When I moved to the North, I didn’t know how else to meet friends, so I went to the rink right away.”

Grant grew up around the rink in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. The community was also a hockey hotbed, supporting its Junior A, Junior B and university teams. Being around that passion and community made hockey an important part of her life.

“Playing hockey is what we did,” Grant says. “The community rallied behind our teams and the rinks were full, the atmosphere was great, and hockey was so prominent.”

She played minor hockey in Nova Scotia before moving to Newfoundland and Labrador to play at Memorial University. At 23 years old, she made the move to Yellowknife and knew she would find her community inside a rink.

“I find that the easiest thing to do when you come to a new place to meet people is through sport,” she says. “With joining a hockey team, I was already creating a group of people that were like-minded in interests and similar age. Plus, there are so many opportunities in the North to grow as coaches, players and mentors that have been so helpful.”

Grant’s love for the game wasn’t just as a player—she expanded her knowledge by getting into coaching while in Nova Scotia. She started as an off-ice coordinator with the Antigonish Bulldogs women’s under-18 team.

Kaylee Grant smiles as she skates with a young player on the ice.

She did her Coach Development 1 training before getting her High Performance 1 training and evaluation certification. She continued to pursue additional coaching certification and training over the years to educate herself and give back to her community.

“I think seeing the female game continuously grow and develop that keeps me interested,” Grant says. “I love to see the progress in my players. I love seeing these players grow and adapt as individuals. Seeing them get involved in coaching is the coolest part.”

Her coaching philosophy is to develop a player’s passion for the game, be a role model and create an environment that is positive for women and girls.

Coaching and mentoring young girls are important to Grant, and she saw that path was through high-level opportunities, particularly by becoming a facilitator to drive more players into the coaching route. She has been working with Hockey North and the Hockey Canada Women Master Coach Developer program, which is focused on removing barriers to coaching education for women.

“Kaylee has volunteered at pretty much every level and she’s getting more involved with training coaches and being a clinician, which is an amazing progression for her,” says Kyle Kugler, executive director of Hockey North and a close friend of Grant. “She’s a great ambassador for hockey by giving back to other coaches through her experiences and helping with their development.”

Through being a volunteer coach, Grant has been able to experience some highlights with her teams, including as head coach for the Arctic Winter Games and Canada Winter Games, and as an assistant coach for Team North at the National Aboriginal Hockey Championship.

“Hockey North has given me so many opportunities and having that support has impacted me as a coach,” Grant says. “I enjoyed every year with those territorial teams and those experiences are a very big reason why I stay here – the coaching opportunities and knowing that we continually have room to grow.”

Another event that Grant was a key volunteer for was the inaugural One For All festival held in Yellowknife in February. It was a four-day event for women and girls from across the N.W.T. and Nunavut that included goaltending clinics, on-ice scrimmages and other off-ice experiences. The event was launched in partnership with Hockey Canada and Hockey North to celebrate the sport and grow grassroots hockey in the North.

“Kaylee is one of our co-leads in the North, and when we set out to deliver this programming in Yellowknife, it was a no-brainer that she would be involved. And typical Kaylee, she just runs with a task and completely owns it,” says Katie Greenway, manager of women’s and girls’ hockey with Hockey Canada. “To have champions like Kaylee that dedicate themselves to their community and sport is so important.”

Giving back through coaching is just what Grant does—it’s like a hobby for her and she does it for others and to see more women in the sport, not for what it could bring to her.

“I’ve known Kaylee for a few years now and she has so much on her plate, but she never says no,” Greenway says. “She doesn’t do it for the accolades, but out of the goodness of her heart with a smile on her face. She’s fantastic and is really impacting everyone that she comes across.”

Grant’s impact on hockey in the North has been felt by many of the girls she has coached, mentored and played with over the past 12 years, but it’s the bigger picture that is most important to her.

“I’m not going to say that myself, individually, has drastically impacted female hockey in the North. I think I am a very small portion of what’s been going on in the North in the last 10 years,” Grant says. “I would like to think that I have helped develop more female coaches and I’ve been a good role model. I think if I have impacted hockey in the North, its pushing players to want to coach a little bit, but it’s a collective—everyone has left their mark on the female game.”

For Kugler, as the lone administrator for Hockey North, having volunteers like Kaylee is so critical to the work and development of hockey players.

“I think volunteers are essential for the delivery of anything in small communities in the North,” he says. “[Kaylee] takes on more than we even realize. Coaches have a huge influence on teams and athletes and she’s a positive role model and advocate for female hockey. She’s selfless with her time and she’s just an awesome person.”

Interested in becoming a coach? Visit HockeyCanada.ca/Coaching, or contact your local hockey association or Hockey Canada Member for more information.

View More

Hockey Canada welcomes William Huff Advertising as National Marketing Partner

Partnership expands William Huff's affiliation with prominent Canadian sports brands

NR.073.23
|
October 26, 2023

CALGARY, AB – Hockey Canada has announced that William Huff Advertising Ltd. has become its newest National Marketing Partner through an agreement that is effective immediately. One of Canada’s leading producers in signage, William Huff’s portfolio of clients includes the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers, among other notable sports and events properties.

“William Huff has been producing top quality signage for local and national sports organizations throughout our 75 years in business,” said Bruce Simpson, owner of William Huff Advertising Ltd. “It was a natural fit for us to partner with Hockey Canada and we are very proud to support the organization’s grassroots, men’s, women’s and para hockey programs. Hockey is such an important part of Canada’s identity and we hope our partnership will help athletes become the best they can be.

“Our commitment to professional and amateur sports is something we are very proud of, and as a partner with several sports and community organizations, we are pleased to add Hockey Canada to that list. Go Canada Go."

As part of the partnership, William Huff will produce signage for national and international events hosted by Hockey Canada. William Huff will also be recognized in-venue, including throughout the upcoming fall event schedule.

“Hockey Canada is thrilled to welcome William Huff as a National Marketing Partner,” said Dean McIntosh, vice-president of strategic partnerships and community impact for Hockey Canada. “Throughout our time working together, which includes the 2022 and 2023 IIHF World Junior Championships, we have continued to expand our partnership, and formalizing it today to officially welcome William Huff as an official partner of Hockey Canada is an exciting step for both organizations.”

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

View More

From stage lights to hockey heights

After transitioning from improv acting to coaching high-level hockey, Whitney Juszkiewicz continues to flourish behind the bench

Nicholas Pescod
|
September 24, 2023

Before the gold medal, the accolades and the countless hours behind the bench coaching high-level hockey, Whitney Juszkiewicz was an improv actor in Vancouver.

“I was on stage every Sunday throwing on an attitude, throwing on an accent, throwing on a persona and going for it,” recalls Juszkiewicz.

Born in Alberta, Juszkiewicz grew up in Edmonton and was deeply involved in hockey, attending St. Francis Xavier High Performance Hockey Academy before enrolling at the University of Saskatchewan, where she studied liberal arts and was a member of the Huskies hockey team. She then studied live performance at Red Deer Polytechnic before embarking on a career in live performance.

“I spent almost eight years in the film, television and theatre industry and I did a lot of stuff in Red Deer,” Juszkiewicz says. “My friends and I then started a theatre company (BullSkit) that specialized in improv and sketch comedy like Saturday Night Live or Second City.”

By 2012, Juszkiewicz was living in Vancouver, running her theatre company, performing improv and providing hockey lessons to kids. It was after one of those lessons that a parent asked if she had ever considered coaching hockey. After thinking it over, Juszkiewicz decided to go for it and soon found herself behind the bench of a Vancouver-area U11 boys’ team.

“I must have done a pretty good job because in my first year I won rookie coach of the year,” she says.

A little more than a decade later, Juszkiewicz is now a respected high-performance hockey coach, having been behind the bench of numerous high-level boys’ and girls’ teams throughout Greater Vancouver, and the owner of Fire and Ice Hockey Development. She has held also held various coaching-related positions with BC Hockey, briefly served as the executive director of the Langley Minor Hockey Association, became a certified Hockey Canada Skills Coach and worked as a female coach mentor with the NHL Coaches’ Association during that time.

“I put the coaching hat on and I haven’t looked back,” says Juszkiewicz, who is also a coach in the B.C. provincial program, an associate coach with a U18 Prep team at the Delta Hockey Academy and head coach of a female U15 AAA team in the Pacific Coast Amateur Hockey Association.

In February, as an assistant coach, Juszkiewicz helped Team BC win its first-ever gold medal in women’s hockey at the 2023 Canada Winter Games.

“It was a privilege to work with those young women, some of whom went on to win gold at the women’s under-18 world championship,” she says. “It was just an unbelievable experience and it will definitely be one of my all-time favourite memories as a coach.”

alt text here

Same skills, different role

Although Juszkiewicz is no longer performing improv on weekends, she has found that many of the skills she developed as an actor have transferred over into the coaching world.

“[Coaching] hockey is reading the room and understanding that this may not be the right time to really drill in the negatives and that everyone needs a little bit of a bump, they need value,” she says.

In the acting world, Juszkiewicz says, a strong emphasis is placed on organization, understanding objectives and having everyone buy into their roles to ensure everything is successful, just like it is in hockey.

“You have the best shows when everybody understands the objective and I find the coaching world is very much like that,” says Juszkiewicz, who continues to dabble in acting, having appeared as an extra in Mighty Ducks: Game Changers. “Everyone's got a job, everyone's got a special talent that they're bringing; there is a reason why they're there and if we can just dig into those specialties and create a nice, inclusive, safe environment, we're going to have a great time.”

alt text here

Learning and growing

Over the last four years, Juszkiewicz has been participating in Hockey Canada's Women Master Coach Developer (WMCD) program, an elite initiative that is providing 38 high-performance women’s hockey coaches with the skills they need to deliver clinics and train future facilitators and evaluators as part of an effort to increase the number of women-led coaching programs nationwide.

“It's been able to give me that extra credibility, that extra training and that extra guidance that I find I am now using with all coaches that either I work with or work for me,” Juszkiewicz says about the program, which she is set to complete later this year. “It’s been a wonderful opportunity to understand how to work with people how to train them, how are you going to create a learning environment as opposed to more of a lecture and just listen to what I have to say environment.”

WMCD participants are nominated by Hockey Canada Members and must have completed several certification and training courses to even be considered. One of the biggest benefits of being in WMCD has been connecting with 37 other highly talented women, says Juszkiewicz.

“I am one of the only women in my province in the program. If I didn't have the ability to connect with other girls in other provinces, I would feel pretty lonely and like I was on my own little island. So, I think the best part is that you are getting some of the top minds across the country in terms of female leadership and female hockey getting together and that is very empowering,” she explains. “It's extremely empowering to know that you're not by yourself.”

Juszkiewicz’s hard work and continuous dedication to her craft over the years has paid dividends. In 2021, she was named BFL Female Coach of the Year for British Columbia in the Community category, and in 2022 she was awarded the BC Hockey Development Award for coaching. She says her drive for continuous learning and growth is fueled by her desire to continue coaching in the game she loves.

“If you don't continue pushing yourself to learn and develop, you get stagnant and ultimately you get left behind.”

View More
Creating Coaches program 2023

Eight student-athletes to participate in Creating Coaches program

Creating Coaches’ third cohort runs until end of 2024-25 season

NR.061.23
|
September 21, 2023

CALGARY, AB – Hockey Canada and U SPORTS have announced the eight student-athletes who have been selected to join Creating Coaches, a program designed to increase the number of women coaching hockey in Canada, as part of its third cohort which will run during the 2023-24 and 2024-25 seasons.

Launched in 2021 through a partnership between Hockey Canada, U SPORTS and the Hockey Canada Foundation, Creating Coaches provides training and mentorship to current U SPORTS student-athletes who are concurrently looking to begin their coaching careers. Participants in the program serve as an assistant coach with a U13, U15 or U18 girls’ hockey team for the duration of the two seasons and receive coach education, professional development opportunities and an honorarium.  

This year’s cohort includes student-athletes from eight U SPORTS women’s hockey programs across three of its conferences:

• Alexis Anonech (York University, OUA)

• Emmy Fecteau (Concordia University, RSEQ)

• Lyndsey Janes (Mount Royal University, CW)

• Madison Laberge (Nipissing University, OUA)

• Isabelle Lajoie (University of Alberta, CW)

• Sophie Lalor (University of Saskatchewan, CW)

• Sarah-Maude Lavoie (McGill University, RSEQ)

• Chihiro Suzuki (Guelph University, OUA)

“We are thrilled to welcome these eight accomplished student-athletes to Creating Coaches and look forward to working with them during the next two seasons,” said Marin Hickox, Hockey Canada’s vice-president of women and girls’ hockey. “Creating Coaches is an important program to support and develop hockey’s next generation of leaders and we are grateful to the U SPORTS coaches who nominated this talented group.

“Girls who have been coached by a woman are more likely to transition into a coaching role at the end of their playing careers, and it is our intention that this program will positively influence the recruitment and retention of girls and women in leadership roles in the sport.”

Since its inception, Creating Coaches has included student-athletes from 16 U SPORTS women’s hockey programs and all four of its conferences.

“The eight student-athletes selected to join Creating Coaches are tremendous ambassadors for hockey and university sport in Canada,” said Lisette Johnson-Stapley, chief sport officer at U SPORTS. “We have already seen the positive impact that this program has had inspiring young girls in communities across the country and we are excited for Alexis, Chihiro, Emmy, Isabelle, Lyndsey, Madison, Sarah-Maude and Sophie to begin their coaching careers while continuing to represent their universities with pride as student-athletes.”

The Creating Coaches selection committee includes representation from Hockey Canada, U SPORTS, Hockey Canada’s Members and the Hockey Canada Foundation Board of Directors.

During National Coaches Week, Hockey Canada is celebrating the positive impact that coaches have on athletes in communities from coast to coast to coast, with #ThanksCoach resources and features shared here.

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

View More
A coaching whiteboard rests on top of the boards.

Resources for Canadian coaches

From upcoming training opportunities to ideas for skills and drills, Hockey Canada has a variety of resources available for coaches of all levels across the country

Shannon Coulter
|
September 17, 2023

Coaches are the backbone of the hockey community. Whether you are a regular behind the bench or it’s your first season as a coach, Hockey Canada has a variety of resources available to help you succeed on your coaching journey.

How do I start my coaching journey?

If you want to get started coaching, make Hockey Canada’s National Coach Certification Program (NCCP) your first stop. This program enables coaches to build their coaching tools and knowledge of the game to work effectively with their players. Hockey Canada offers six coaching clinics and five instructional stream areas of focus.

Those looking to be trained to coach in the Community Sport stream can participate in Coach 1 — Intro to Coach or Coach 2 — Coach Level. NCCP certification is not required at either of these levels; a coach will remain trained indefinitely after completing these streams. Register for a coaching clinic or visit your Member website for more information.

Respect in Sport

The Respect in Sport Activity Leader/Coach program is an engaging and easy-to-use online training course that helps hockey coaches and youth leaders recognize, understand and respond to issues of bullying, abuse, harassment and discrimination. The course also aims to build a holistic culture of respect within the sports community and provide fundamental training tools to enable all coaches to become even better role models for the young athletes in their care.

In Canadian hockey, more than 230,000 coaches are certified by the Respect Group Inc.

Skills and drills

The Hockey Canada Network gives coaches and players the tools to succeed with drills, skills, videos, practice plans and articles on their tablet or phone. There are over 1,500 drills and more than 100 lesson plans available on the app, with more added throughout the season.

Looking for more drill inspiration? Hockey Canada will frequently post skill videos on its social channels that can be incorporated into practice plans. Search the hashtag #HCSkillsCoach and #HCGoalieCoach on X (formerly known as Twitter), Facebook and Instagram to find more drill videos to utilize on the ice.



Drill Hub is another resource available to find skills and drills for players. It is a free resource for coaches to access hundreds of drills and videos. There are also pre-made practice plans available to download, along with templates for game rosters, player stats, scouting reports and more.

Women in coaching

We Are Coaches

As a free, women-only coach program, We Are Coaches was designed to increase the number of trained women coaches in Canada in order to provide mentors and role models for young participants. The program aims to build infrastructure to support and sustain the participation of girls and women in hockey in Canada, develop women role models and leaders within the hockey community and remove barriers to coaching education for women.

Women Master Coach Developer

Launched in 2019, the Women Master Coach Developer (WMCD) program introduces more hockey coaching programs led by women. The program has equipped 38 coach leaders to not only deliver coach clinics, but also train future facilitators and evaluators in each Member.

To participate in the program, delegates can be nominated by their Member each season. Delegates are required to complete multiple trainings and certifications in the program, and upon successful completion, they will take a leadership role to optimize the delivery of the We Are Coaches program and support women coaches within their communities.

Creating Coaches

In 2021, the Hockey Canada Foundation partnered with U SPORTS to launch Creating Coaches, a program designed to increase the number of women in coaching positions in Canada. This two-year mentorship program places a focus on training, mentoring and empowering women behind the bench.

Candidates for the program are nominated by their U SPORTS coaches to participate in Creating Coaches.

How do I get further coaching support?

Are you looking for more support? Do you have a question about coaching in your community? Hockey Canada and its Members have coaching resources and helpful staff available to help you on your coaching journey.

Click here to find the coaching contact information for your Member.

Do you have more questions about coaching? Visit these Frequently Asked Questions pages to learn more about the following topics:

View More

Building a community around hockey

BFL Female Coach of the Year Julie Venselaar is growing hockey in Powell River, B.C., by creating opportunity for girls and women to share the ice together

Jonathan Yue
|
June 08, 2023

Hockey has always been a source of community for Julie Venselaar.

Playing in women’s drop-in sessions in the coastal city of Powell River, B.C., the women in the session felt there needed to be more options for girls and women to play hockey together. With no organized leagues, it was a gap that needed to be filled.

When they approached Venselaar asking if she wanted to be involved, it was a no-brainer.

“I truly believe that it is so important for girls to have an activity or sport as they head into their adolescence years,” Venselaar says. “The group created a time for these girls to come out and to be coached by women, have fun and have some girl time, and when my daughter was old enough, they asked if I wanted to join and help out, [and] I said yes.”

With girls playing integrated hockey in boys’ leagues, the sessions evolved from being just additional skates to becoming a full girls’ team, and it strengthened the game in Powell River. After eight years of coaching, Venselaar has continued to be involved in organizing and volunteering her time in on-ice activities, fostering a space for girls to play hockey together. Almost a decade later, she still feels fortunate to be able to be a part of the growth of hockey.

A full-time teacher, Venselaar is passionate about children growing up in a positive environment. That commitment to creating a community through hockey has earned Venselaar the BFL Female Coach of the Year award in the Community category.

“There’s nothing better we can give our girls and our daughters than that sense of having something to anchor them through those tricky times in life,” she says. “Part of why I do what I do is to build that community, to build that safe space around them and to surround them with good role models who are there to love and support them. Hockey is something that I know is a medium for me to do that and it’s great because it allows these amazing girls to learn skills from being a part of a team.”

But the most special part for Venselaar has been sharing her coaching journey with her daughter. As part of her prize for earning the BFL honour, Venselaar attended the gold medal game at the 2023 IIHF Women’s World Championship in Brampton, Ont., with her daughter by her side

“It was so awesome to be able to share that with my daughter,” Venselaar says. “It was so inspiring to be there, and to see it live, with the extremely talented athletes, it was amazing. The best part is that they’re amazing people, too. The players were waving to the crowd and my daughter loved it.

“We made a sign for Micah Zandee-Hart because she was the only player from B.C., and Micah came over, smiled at us before tossing my daughter a puck and it really made her day.”

At the end of the day, Venselaar wants to make sure that it isn’t just her efforts growing the game. She’s very proud of what her community has been able to do together and hopes it continues to expand.

“Our hockey community of parents, coaches, players, and more, they’re bringing it all together and supporting our girls and creating something that’s for them,” Venselaar concludes. “I am here to guide things along, but I’m just part of an amazing team that brings the community together.”

View More

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]

Videos
Photos
play_logo
BFL: Celebrating the best behind the bench
play_logo
HCF: Assist Fund in Action – Simon
play_logo
HCF: Dreams Come True in Membertou
play_logo
MWC: Highlights – SWE 4, CAN 2 (Bronze Medal)
play_logo
MWC: Highlights – SUI 3, CAN 2 SO (Semifinal)
play_logo
MWC: Highlights – CAN 6, SVK 3 (Quarterfinal)
play_logo
MWC: Highlights – CAN 4, CZE 3 OT (Preliminary)
play_logo
MWC: Remembering the wild ride in Riga
play_logo
Centennial: Highlights – Collingwood 1, Melfort 0 (Championship)
play_logo
MWC: Highlights – CAN 3, SUI 2 (Preliminary)
play_logo
MWC: Highlights – CAN 5, FIN 3 (Preliminary)
play_logo
NMT: Evason brings passion and pride to Prague
Schedule
HC Logo
Oakville, Ontario, Canada
Date: Jul 19 to 23
HC Logo
Edmonton, Alta., Canada
Date: Aug 3 to 10