As pointed out last week, hockey continues to be very much in the news long after the playing season has ended. At the professional level, NHL playoffs were followed by the entry draft and award night. Then during this past week we’ve witnessed the annual frenzy as teams attempt to improve themselves by signing players available on the free agent market.
The Vancouver Canucks have been relatively quiet, with most of their talent already committed to long-term contracts. They lost defenceman Christian Ehrhoff to the Islanders, but re-signed Kevin Bieksa and Sami Salo and added winger Marco Sturm.
Long-time Canuck fans were saddened to learn this past week that Barry Wilkins had died at age 64 from lung cancer. Wilkins is in the history books as the first player to score a goal in Canucks history. That was back on Oct. 9, 1970 when the new Vancouver franchise hosted the L.A. Kings to start their inaugural season at the Pacific Coliseum.
In happier news, it was announced that Joe Nieuwendyk, Doug Gilmour, Mark Howe and goalie Ed Belfour will be added to the Hockey Hall of Fame. The induction ceremony will happen next November.
Local hockey players and coaches were honoured at the recent Nanaimo Minor Hockey Association’s annual general meeting. Checking awards from the girls’ division this week, congratulations go to Makayla Paugh for being named the top graduating midget female recreational player. Top graduating bantam female recreational player was Shannon Watson. Sara Spencer was the top graduating peewee female recreational player and Natalie Reynolds the top graduating atom female recreational player. Chosen as Coach of the Year from the NMHA female division was Darron Clark.
A pair of competitive Nanaimo Minor Hockey female teams achieved their goal of qualifying for provincials this past season. One was the Mid Island bantam girls’ squad which went undefeated in capturing the Island title before advancing to the B.C.’s in Kelowna. Bill Hardy was head coach for the team, with assistants Roger Chamberlain, Mike Squire and Doug Seltenrich and team managers Tina McComb and Leslie Murdoch. On the roster were players Dayna Briggs, Marijke Campbell, Madison Chamberlain, Bailey Diehl, Elizabeth Goodman, Cassidy Green, Danielle Hardy, Chelan Hein, Erin Murdoch, Robynn Olson, Kylie Paloposki, Makayla Seltenrich, Tianna Squire, Celine Tardif, April Turnbull, Mariah Westra, Katie Woywitka, Baylee Wright, Paige Chowen and Krystyna Neal.
Also very successful this season was the Ramsay Lampman and Rhodes North Island Extreme midget female team. The Extreme had quite a season, medalling at three tournaments before defeating the South Island Breakers in a two-game sweep in the Island championships. Then it was on to the provincials in Invermere, where the local girls posted a 2-2-1 record to place third overall. Players were Krista Plaunt, Carly Gill, Katrina Hawkins, Kelsey Parker, Ashlyn Mottershead, Chelsea Diehl, Alena Johnson, Samantha Dutcyvich, Tamara Berger, Maddison Krassman, Una Marsh, Danielle Thompson, Briana Forberg, Scotia Bellavance, Paige Metzner, Maggie Paugh and Sadie Horner. Chirstina Sharun was head coach, assisted by Tim Paugh and manager Kim Dutcyvich.
Now, just as NHL teams are putting plans together for next season, so too is Nanaimo Minor Hockey. At the AGM, David Beatty was returned for another term as president. Also elected were treasurer Carla Burgmann, development coordinator Dave Bortolotto and safety and risk coordinator Kent Cookman. Taking on responsibility for the various divisions were Doug Tyce as midget director, Roberta Bortolotto as bantam director and Reagan Robinson as peewee director. Atom director for the year ahead is Janelle Olson, with Lorraine Carlson the novice director and Tim Paugh as director for the female division.
Later this summer, a used equipment sale has been scheduled for Aug. 13, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Equipment to be sold can be dropped off Aug. 12 from 6-9 p.m. at the Centennial Building at Beban Park.
Rep tryouts will be held near the end of August. Goaltenders are invited to try out on Aug. 27-28, then all players and goalies during the week of Aug. 29 to Sept. 1. For more information, call 250-754-5010.
Whatever your sport, a reminder in closing to play your hardest, play fair, and show good sportsmanship.