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Nanaimo’s minor hockey players get back to shooting and scoring

Columnist catches up on minor hockey news and notes
Sports columnist congratulates last year’s Nanaimo Minor Hockey Association award winners and looks ahead to the 2022-23 season.


We’re into fall, which among many other things brings with it the start of another hockey season.

In the NHL, perennial questions remain: will the Vancouver Canucks make it into the first round of the playoffs and will the Toronto Maple Leafs ever make it out of the first round?

Locally, there have been some changes. In the VIJHL, the Nanaimo Buccaneers have a new owner in Nicole Brandenburg along with new coach Andy Hellweger. Our Nanaimo Clippers of the BCHL also have a new ownership group led by Brad Kwong and are hoping to build on last year’s success under coach Colin Birkas. And Nanaimo Minor Hockey, which is up and running again, saw Glenn Cook assume the reigns as president at the organization’s annual general meeting last spring.

Joining Cook on the executive are directors Dave Zielinski, Chris Lawson, Siobhan Davie, Paul Manhas, Amanda Rauh, Dan Stav, Tammy Reid, Julien Savard, Janna Gordon, Debbie Harilstad, Cody Gessner, Adam Bowman and Matt Hughes.

Also at the AGM, awards were presented giving recognition to players in the recreational and competitive divisions of the sport, as well as to officials and coaches. My thanks to NMHA office administrator Vicky Long for sending a recap.

Starting with the boy’s recreational division, the Larry McNabb Memorial Trophy for the top U18 player went to Matt Boas. Mark Ratzlaff was recipient of the Jason Gow Memorial Trophy for best U15 player. Named as the top graduating U13 recreational player was Jackson Burns, while Preet Pandher was top graduating U11 player.

From the girls’ recreational divisions, Keira Martin was picked as the top graduating U18 player and Michaela Keeling as top U15 graduating player. Sloan McClinton was named as best graduating U13 player, with the top U11 award going to Carys Robertshaw.

From the competitive division, the Bud Dumont Award as top graduating U18 player went to Blake Nowicki. Kyle Nickel took home the Don Sarkasian Memorial Trophy as top graduating U15 player. The Dick Robinson Memorial Trophy as top graduating U13 player was won by Hudson McArthur, while Ben Broekhuizen received the Eric Kneen Memorial Trophy as top graduating U11 competitive player.

Recognition of Nanaimo minor hockey referees saw Rylan Prescesky named as the most improved official. Nathan Hayes got the nod as rookie official of the year. Sharing the honour of Official of the Year were Carson Prescesky and Matthew Hutchison.

Coaching awards were also presented at the hockey AGM. The Ted Holder Memorial Trophy as most valuable coach in the competitive division went to Mike Kirby. The Frank Crane Memorial Trophy as most valuable coach in the U18 division went to Tony Brunet. Kevin Chase received the President’s Trophy as most valuable coach from the U15 division, while the Civic Arena Trophy for best coach in the U13 division was given to Nicole Sugiyama-Trenholm.

From the U11 division, the Cliff McNabb Memorial Trophy went to coach Kevin Esseltine. Other Coach of the Year honours winners were Michael Olson from the U6/U7 division, James Kay from the U8/U9 division and Tylan Chang of the Female U11 C1 team. Chosen for the Ethan Brown Memorial Trophy as rookie coach of the year was Cole Manns.

Whatever your sport, a reminder in closing to play your hardest, play fair, and show good sportsmanship.