Hockey Canada Awards

2018 Hockey Canada Award Winners

Outstanding Volunteer Award

The Hockey Canada Outstanding Volunteer Award annually recognizes an outstanding volunteer who has contributed to amateur hockey and Hockey Canada. Volunteer service may include years of participation, administration, contribution, innovation or the advancement of amateur hockey through media coverage. The Outstanding Volunteer Award is presented to an individual who has dedicated himself/herself to the ideals of Hockey Canada, who has worked tirelessly for the improvement of the Association and who has had a notable impact on the game.

Gerry Taylor

It’s hard to know where to start on the subject of Gerry Taylor’s impact on hockey in Newfoundland and Labrador. That’s what happens when one’s involvement in the sport spans more than 65 years. What must be said, though: He’s made the game better for everyone connected to it, and for that, he is a most deserving winner of Hockey Canada’s Outstanding Volunteer Award.

Since lacing up for his high school team in 1952, Gerry’s been a player, coach, clinic conductor, instructor and ice scheduler. He’s been a secretary, manager, team builder, junior council director, technical director and PR director. He’s been a league chairman, league representative, league vice-president, league president and league past-president. He’s been a member of fundraising committees, executive committees and new arena building committees. He’s even been a website designer.

Having been a player himself, Gerry wanted others to enjoy the same opportunity—the opportunity to play, yes, but also the opportunity to learn about life, to learn about others, to learn about yourself.

In many ways, he’s been the unselfish gatekeeper of the game on the Rock. He first volunteered in 1974 as an Atom team coach. Later that year, as an executive member with the Mt. Pearl Minor Hockey Association, he organized teams in three divisions even though there was no rink in town. No problem: He just held early morning practices in St. John’s.

The following year he began the drive to build the town its own rink. Mission accomplished by 1977, Gerry recruited parents to coach teams in five divisions, providing them with practice drills to run with their players. He then worked tirelessly to bring junior hockey to Mt. Pearl, helping to form new leagues when old ones were forced to fold.

That’s just who Gerry is. If time is the most invaluable resource, no one invested more than Gerry. Whether it was holding weekly Squirt skating clinics, as he did in 1977-78; acting as the St. John’s Junior League rep at NAHA meetings, as he did from 1984-89; raising funds for the Mt. Pearl Amateur Hockey Association and the St. John’s Junior Hockey League, as he did from 1989-93 and 1989-94, respectively; serving as a member of the Provincial Jr. Hockey Championship committee, as he was from 2001-03; or performing any of the other dozens of roles he’s held over more than four decades, for Gerry it was about bettering the game for those who participate.

Gordon Juckes Award

In honour of Gordon Juckes, Hockey Canada proudly recognizes this individual for their outstanding contribution to the development of amateur hockey in Canada at the national level. Nominees are from the fields of research, sports medicine, psychology, coaching, officiating, administration or related categories. Gordon Juckes was Hockey Canada’s first full-time executive director. His tenure began in 1960 and concluded in 1977 with his retirement. Shortly thereafter, he was inducted as a Life Member of Hockey Canada and an Honorary Member of the IIHF.

René Parent

The best hockey players tend to hone their skills by participating in multiple sports. One needs look no further than René Parent to come to the conclusion that the same holds true for those who coach and teach the game. He’s given his time to soccer and football in Quebec, but it’s for his more than three decades’ worth of contributions to the development of amateur hockey in Canada that René Parent is this year’s recipient of the Gordon Juckes Award.

René’s love of the game began early as a minor hockey player in Lac-Mégantic. In the 1970s, he played Junior A in Lac-Mégantic, Junior B in Rivière-du-Loup and Senior in Beauce. But as the calendar turned to a new decade, René turned his attention to coaching.

In 1981, he implemented the Méthode d’Apprentissage de Hockey sur Glace (MAHG) Program in Lac-Mégantic, ensuring a long-term development plan for Initiation-age players. Over the next two decades he could be found behind the benches of his hometown coaching at the Novice, Atom, Peewee, Bantam and Midget competitive levels.

Starting in 1982, and continuing for the next 35 years, he served as a course conductor to train coaches in the Initiation Program. All told, he led more than 250 courses across Quebec’s 14 regions. And for more than 25 years, he’s been a member of Hockey Quebec’s Provincial Initiation Committee, serving as chairman for the last 16 of them.

Five times René has been Hockey Quebec’s representative at the Master Course Conductor meetings for Initiation programs. He’s organized Hockey Canada skills camps and facilitated multiple conferences for parents on safe and fun hockey.

All the while, the rink was not his only field of play. The three years he spent coaching a high school soccer team and launching a league in Lac-Mégantic, as well as the 14 years he coached Juvenile and Initiation football, further refined his coaching skills and taught him lessons equally applicable on the ice.

Today, René acts as the Initiation Program supervisor for the Eastern Townships; he also oversees Hockey Quebec’s Initiation Program course conductors.  After nearly 40 years in the game, René continues to eagerly promote the vision and development of hockey in his home province.

Female Breathrough Award

Hockey Canada proudly recognizes an individual for their outstanding leadership and contribution to the advancement of female hockey. Nominees originate from fields of coaching, officiating, research, administration, marketing, promotion or events/special projects.

Barry Wisener

Female hockey in Nova Scotia would look much different today if not for one daughter’s decision and one dad’s determination. It was fall 2006, and young Abby Wisener wanted to play hockey. Her dad, Barry, stepped up to coach her Novice team that first season, recruiting enough girls to play with Abby and instilling in them a love of the game to match his own.

For thinking not only of his own daughter but of everyone’s daughters who dreamed of a game to call their own, Barry Wisener is this year’s winner of the Female Breakthrough Award.

From recruitment to development, promotion to sponsorship, Barry’s fingerprints are stamped over every facet of the female game in Nova Scotia. While his involvement initially followed his daughter’s footsteps in the game, it never dictated the depth of his devotion to ensuring all girls enjoyed the same opportunity to play.

As Abby and her teammates progressed into Peewee, Barry recruited more girls to play with them. Noticing a lack of development at the grassroots level, Barry organized extra skill sessions for the girls. Soon players from other minor hockey associations asked – and were welcomed – in.

In 2011, Barry joined Hockey Nova Scotia’s Female Council in a developmental role that allowed him to provide skill development across the entire province.

He designed and coordinated a program that partnered university female hockey players in the province with grassroots teams. The program connected younger girls with positive role models who showed them what they could aspire to achieve themselves.

Barry also helped implement Hockey Nova Scotia’s Female Festival. The end-of-season event allows more than 400 female players to celebrate the game with development-focused activities.

Barry was instrumental in creating the province’s Bantam female league and, with it, introducing tiered competitive female hockey in Nova Scotia. He then took it upon himself to develop a brochure to promote the female game and the opportunities available in the province. Barry secured sponsorships as well as donations of goods and services, and developed all the content.

Noticing many Midget-aged girls leaving to play elsewhere, Barry created a new brochure to promote the Nova Scotia Female Midget AAA Hockey League and the opportunities it offered. After serving as league president for several seasons, Barry stepped down to take over operations for one of the teams. Barry’s leadership ensured the team wouldn’t fold and its players would continue to have elite-level opportunities.

Officiating Award

Hockey Canada proudly recognizes an individual for their outstanding contribution to officiating and for their notable impact on the game at the member and national levels.

Steven Sleigh

The best officials never get noticed. That’s how they like it – no attention drawn means they had a good game. Ironically, the best officials should always be noticed. The hockey community most definitely sees what Steven Sleigh means to the game. For his fairness and compassion, his leadership and mentorship, and his commitment and dedication to the game, Steven Sleigh is this year’s Officiating Award recipient.

Born in Germany to a military family, at age four Steven moved to Prince Edward Island, where he first stepped on the ice, playing minor hockey for six years. When his family was transferred to Vancouver Island, he resumed playing but picked up a new pastime: time-keeper. At age 13, he began officiating.

In 1976, the Sleighs moved to Ontario, and Steven continued playing and officiating. He stopped playing after the 1976-77 season to focus solely on officiating. Over the next nine years, he worked both junior hockey and college and university games.

Steven then stepped off the ice to turn his attention to the administration and advancement of officiating programs in eastern Ontario. He was the ODHA director of officials for four years, before becoming VP of Rules and Officials in 1995, a position he still holds today. As a Hockey Eastern Ontario board member, he oversees the coordination and development for all minor and junior hockey officials in the branch.

Steven’s deepest pride has always come from seeing others develop and advance in the game. Every season he helps conduct more than 5,000 evaluations through the officials’ mentorship/supervision program. He manages a referees’ school for as many as 150 teenage officials each year; this three-day seminar provides training over and above the mentorship program. And he leads the branch’s Level 4/5 seminars, in which he’s introduced a coaches’ hot stove as a way to establish greater understanding and respect between officials and coaches.

Steven’s influence goes beyond his corner of the country. Recognizing the importance of sharing information and ideas, in 2001 he initiated an exchange program with other branches. The program encourages, promotes and motivates officials not yet at the elite level, and many of its attendees hail it the highlight of their officiating careers.

On the national development side, Steven and his team diligently coordinate Hockey Canada’s officiating programs for more than 1,350 local officials.

Order Of Merit (Atlantic)

At the Hockey Canada annual general meeting in 1960, approval was given to the institution of annual “Hockey Canada Meritorious Awards” to honour those individuals who for many years have served amateur hockey faithfully, having participated as players, served as coaches and association members, and made outstanding contributions to Canadian amateur hockey. The first such awards were made in January and May 1962.

Cecil Taylor

Say the name Cecil Taylor within the P.E.I. hockey community, and you’ll hear about an unassuming man who shuns the spotlight. You’ll also hear how that same humble, hardworking hockey lifer helped transform the Junior game on the Island. For his unselfish dedication to developing and growing the game, Cecil Taylor is the recipient of Hockey Canada’s Order of Merit.

Cecil began leaving his mark in the early 1970s. As the general manager of the Colonel Gray Colonels – later the Charlottetown Junior Abbies of the Maritime Junior Hockey League – Cecil led the club to six straight provincial Junior A championships, as well as five Maritime titles.

Cecil then took his experience and turned toward farther-reaching roles. He was the Junior director with the PEI Hockey Association (now Hockey PEI) for seven years, the 1st VP for another two years and, finally, president for four years, his term concluding in 1992.

In 1991, Cecil stepped up to the national level. He was elected Vice-Chairman at large (and a board member) of the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association (now Hockey Canada). For three years, he served as the director for Junior hockey. During that time, he proudly shared in back-to-back gold medals at the World Juniors. He then served two years as the director of minor hockey.

When his term ended in 1996, Cecil returned to where it all began: Junior hockey on the Island. He assumed the role of Vice-President of the Maritime Junior A Hockey League, a positon he continues to hold today. His consistent and steady presence allows others to succeed in their roles and the league to thrive overall. He’s earned the unwavering respect of every owner, governor and team staff member.

For many years, he also handled the league’s disciplinary measures. A challenge role for sure, but one for which Cecil was commended by all teams for his fairness.

Most recently, Cecil brought his vast experience back to the national level as Hockey PEI’s representative on Hockey Canada’s Junior task team.

In 2009, Hockey PEI bestowed him with an Honorary Life Membership.

Simply stated, hockey’s strong position in the province today is due in no small part to Cecil’s dedication and commitment.

Order Of Merit (West)

At the Hockey Canada annual general meeting in 1960, approval was given to the institution of annual “Hockey Canada Meritorious Awards” to honour those individuals who for many years have served amateur hockey faithfully, having participated as players, served as coaches and association members, and made outstanding contributions to Canadian amateur hockey. The first such awards were made in January and May 1962.

Sheldon Kennedy

He’s a Memorial Cup champion and a World Juniors gold medallist. He played eight seasons in the National Hockey League. But it’s off the ice where Sheldon Kennedy – the recipient of Hockey Canada’s Order of Merit – has left his mark, not only within the hockey community but on sporting fields, and in workplaces and classrooms, across the country.

In 2004, Sheldon cofounded the Respect Group, an organization that works to empower people to recognize and prevent abuse, bullying and harassment, both in the arena and in their community. The group’s online certification programs provide participants the tools they need to create safe and fun environments for everyone.

For Sheldon, it’s about ensuring kids have the best experiences they possibly can, and making sure adults have the tools they need to make sure that happens.

The Respect in Sport for Activity Leader/Coach Program trains leaders on how to create safe, healthy and positive environments for children and youth. The program teaches them to recognize, understand and respond to issues of bullying, abuse, harassment and discrimination, and touches on elements related to hazing, duty of care, and concussion and injury management. So far, the program has certified more than 230,000 coaches.

Understanding that a parent’s influence is just as important on a child’s activities, Sheldon and his team developed the Respect in Sport Parent Program. It encourages positive sports behaviours, offers insight into the roles of coaches and officials, and touches on elements such as setting realistic expectations and handling winning and losing. More than 319,000 parents have completed the program.

The Respect Group offers programs for the workplace and the classroom, as well.

Sheldon also continues to be an advocate and inspiration for abuse survivors here at home and around the world. He’s the lead director of the Sheldon Kennedy Advocacy Centre, which has helped more than 14,000 kids over the past six years. He’s encouraged lawmakers and public and private sector partners to work together to influence policy change. His advocacy work has not only influenced changes in Canadian law but his message has also been heard by the U.S. Senate and the International Olympic Committee.

In recent years, Sheldon has been recognized with honorary degrees and doctorates from numerous educational institutions and bestowed with multiple humanitarian awards. In 2015, he was invested as both a Member of the Order of Manitoba and a Member of the Order of Canada.

Order Of Merit (Central)

At the Hockey Canada annual general meeting in 1960, approval was given to the institution of annual “Hockey Canada Meritorious Awards” to honour those individuals who for many years have served amateur hockey faithfully, having participated as players, served as coaches and association members, and made outstanding contributions to Canadian amateur hockey. The first such awards were made in January and May 1962.

Michael Flaherty

Coaches are leaders, teachers, motivators, communicators. They have the respect, trust and admiration of their sports’ community. They have the ability to bring out the best in others and make them believe in themselves. After nearly 40 years in the game, it’s safe to say Michael Flaherty is an authority on coaching. For helping redefine what it means to be a coach, Michael Flaherty is the deserving winner of this year’s Order of Merit.

Michael began his coaching career in 1969, and for the next 26 years, he volunteered his time behind the bench, earning the respect of players, parents, coaches, officials, administrators and his fellow volunteers throughout the province of Quebec.

But Michael wanted to give more. He’s been a member of the Provincial Coaching Committee since 1986, and sat on the National Coaching Committee from 1996 until 2001. His commitment to every part of the game – not just skills, but fair play and a safe, welcoming environment for all – is reflected by his ongoing involvement on numerous committees and leadership in overseeing various courses.

Since 1980, he’s been a coaching course conductor for Hockey Quebec. Since 1997, he’s been a group leader for advanced clinics in the province. Since 2001, he’s been a harassment and abuse course conductor. And since 2002, he’s been a member of the Regional Disciplinary Committee.

At the local level, he served as both vice-president and president for the West-Island zone between 1980 and 1992; he did double duty during those dozen years, holding head coaching positions in Dorval and Pointe-Claire.

But Michael’s love of the game runs far deeper and wider than local boundaries. As a course conductor at the regional level, he trained more than 3,000 coaches in the Lac St-Louis region. He also practiced what he was teaching: He served as a head coach in the region during that same 15-year period.

Over those years, Michael also served as a tournament supervisor in the Lac-St. Louis region, helped organize two provincial championships and gave his time to be a Hockey Canada course conductor.

The respect Michael commands at the local and regional levels extends all the way up to the national and international levels. Michael has been entrusted to serve as team leader on multiple occasions for the National Junior Team, the National Women’s Team and the National Women’s Development Team.

Hal Lewis Award

In honour of Hal Lewis, Hockey Canada proudly recognizes the staff person who best exemplifies the commitment to the values and objectives of Hockey Canada, exhibits pride and respect for the organization and its participants and demonstrates team spirit both in the office and in one’s life.

Jennifer Robins

Lead, develop and promote positive hockey experiences. The Hockey Canada mission is a simple one, but it takes tremendous effort from people behind the scenes to turn words into reality.

Jennifer Robins is one of those people, and that is exactly why she is being recognized tonight as the 2018 recipient of the Hal Lewis Award.

As leader of the Community and Brand department, Jennifer is tasked with telling the stories of the game from every corner of the country, showing the impact hockey has on the lives of everyday Canadians. It is her passion for those stories, and those people, that helps the department thrive.

But Jennifer’s value is about so much more than just one program.

In more than 15 years of service to Hockey Canada, she has seen it and done it all, from helping Canada’s National Women’s Team win gold at the 2006 Olympics, to working at the Esso Cup or with the development staff on a mid-week video shoot.

She has become an invaluable resource on everything from sourcing photos to brainstorming innovative content ideas, all while balancing multiple projects and working with virtually every department in the organization.

Her skill set and experience allow her to be as comfortable working on a Hockey Canada Ambassador story as with a National Junior Team player feature or a development piece, and her attention to detail ensures every video meets a high standard of production.

It is Jenn’s passion for Hockey Canada and her commitment to always finding the best solution to whatever situation presents itself that likely contributed to her peers selecting her for this award.

It’s not just her work, though, that has endeared Jennifer to her coworkers. Her infectious personality, ever-present smile and sense of humour have made her a beloved member of the staff.

And then there’s her family – husband Ryan, daughter Hannah and son Zack. Hockey Canada plays a big role at home; with Ryan – himself a Hal Lewis winner – frequently on the road in his role with the World Juniors, Jennifer ably holds down the fort, and is never shy to share the accomplishments of her children.

For her passion, for her dedication and for her contributions to Hockey Canada both big and small, we are proud to call Jennifer a colleague and a friend, and proud to celebrate this accomplishment with her.

Liz MacKinnon Award

The Liz MacKinnon Award annually recognizes the contribution of a companion during the Spring Congress who personifies the character spirit of Liz: her love of life, her love of family and her love of the people involved in hockey. Her legacy remains with Hockey Canada.

Terry Menard

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