Our love for hockey lies in the hearts of volunteers from coast to coast to coast, looking to share their passion with all Canadians.
Thank you to the hundreds of thousands who give their time to our game, and congratulations to those recognized as national award winners this year.
After immigrating to Canada from Pescosolido, Italy, in 1956, Sam Ciccolini set about carving out a life in his new country for his growing family. And when it came to being part of the fabric of his adopted homeland, what was more Canadian than hockey?
Over the last 50 years, Sam has become a pillar of his community. He has volunteered his time with more than 40 different groups, with a special interest on the ice. Starting with his involvement with the Woodbridge Minor Hockey Association, he helped build the Vaughan Kings AAA Hockey Association in the early 1990s, was involved in the creation of the Minor Hockey Alliance of Ontario in 1992 and earned a seat on the board of directors with the Ontario Hockey Association and Ontario Hockey Federation (receiving a life membership from the OHF in 2007). Sam has also been heavily involved with Hockey Canada; he has been involved with the insurance and risk management committees for close to 30 years, was part of the Olympic hockey delegation in 2006 and 2014 and chaired the volunteer committee for the 2015 and 2017 World Juniors.
That covers just a fraction of Sam’s volunteer exploits, so it is no surprise he has been provincially and nationally recognized many times over. He received the Order of Ontario in 1999, and was invested as a Member of the Order of Canada in 2006 and as a Commander of the Order of the Star of Solidarity by the Government of Italy in 2008, just to name a notable few. From humble beginnings in Pescosolido to the highest levels of Canada’s game, Sam embodies what hard work and selfless contributions to one’s community can achieve.
From High Level in the north to Lethbridge in the south, Lloydminster in the east and Grande Prairie in the west – and so many points in between – there probably aren’t many arenas across the province of Alberta that Barry Medori hasn’t stepped foot in.
A coach whose résumé includes stints in the Alberta Junior Hockey League, Alberta College Athletics Conference and Western Women’s Hockey League, at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge and with Canada’s National Women’s Team, Barry has helped shape the hockey journey for countless players since 1999. For the last 12 years he has turned his attention towards coach mentorship, working both provincially with Hockey Alberta’s high-performance program (men’s U15/U16, women’s U18) and nationally with Hockey Canada’s Program of Excellence (U17).
An educator by trade, Barry has a knack for connecting with coaches of any age and experience level. He is a constant fixture at Team Alberta and Team Canada camps and events throughout the season, working with coaches to ensure they are getting the best out of their players while instilling core values that provide benefits at the rink and in life.
During the 2018-19 season, there were 6,874 girls registered to play hockey in Quebec. And it is very unlikely there is anyone in the province who is more passionate about their development – and about the women’s game in general – than Pascal Dufresne.
The head coach of the women’s hockey team at Cégep Limoilou for the last 17 seasons, Pascal has led the Titans to four consecutive Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ) collegiate championships (and seven in the last eight years), earned a gold medal as head coach of Team Quebec at the 2015 Canada Winter Games and won bronze as bench boss at the 2019 National Women’s Under-18 Championship. He also played a behind-the-scenes role at the 2017 U18 nationals, welcoming the country’s top young players to Quebec City as part of the host committee.
But his impact on the game goes far beyond the Titans and provincial high-performance program. Pascal also serves as the director of development with the As de Québec, working with the U13, U15 and U18 AAA teams, and is heavily involved in camps for players from U7 to U15, always ensuring the future of the game in Quebec is secure, and players are getting the most from their hockey experience.
From her earliest days of minor hockey, Ève Gascon has always had an eye on pushing boundaries and breaking down barriers. For the 17-year-old goaltender, simply stopping pucks has never been good enough. She wants to make history.
Ève burst onto the national scene in 2018 when she made the Phénix du Collège Esther-Blondin, becoming the first woman to play in the Ligue de hockey midget AAA du Québec, arguably the best U18 league in the country. After helping Quebec to silver at the 2019 Canada Winter Games and bronze at the 2019 National Women’s Under-18 Championship, and backstopping Canada’s National Women’s Under-18 Team to silver at the 2020 IIHF U18 Women’s World Championship, Ève broke another gender barrier by debuting with the Collège Français de Longueuil as the first woman to play in the Ligue de hockey junior AAA du Québec.
A leader on and off the ice, Ève has never hesitated to give back to the game, working with young girls across Quebec and going above and beyond to promote the women’s game. And when COVID-19 brought an early end to the 2019-20 season, she found a way to support her community, volunteering at a seniors’ home in L’Assomption, Que.
Where do you even begin to describe the impact Rick Morphew has had on the officiating community? As an on-ice official, instructor, supervisor, master course conductor and contributor to the Hockey Canada Officiating Program (HCOP), Rick is in a class all his own.
From the first time he picked up a whistle in his hometown of Sarnia, Ont., in the early 1960s, Rick has seemingly lived his life in black and white. He progressed through the HCOP to become a certified Level VI official in 1980, working games – including a number of international assignments – until 2009 as one of the country’s most respected referees. He has spent the last 24 years as the referee-in-chief for the Ontario Hockey Federation (OHF), helping guide the careers of thousands of young officials, and his knowledge and expertise has helped shape officiating curriculum for every level of the HCOP.
A recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal in 2002 for outstanding community service, Rick has proudly gone from one end of the country to the other as a national supervisor since 1990, representing Hockey Canada and the OHF at countless national and international events, and proving time and time again why his is one of the most influential officiating voices in the game.
From the rinks of East Hants, N.S., to the boardrooms of Hockey Canada, hockey has shaped Garth Isenor, and Garth Isenor has shaped hockey. As a player, coach and administrator, he has had a front row seat to watch hockey grow in Nova Scotia, and today’s game has his fingerprints all over it.
A goaltender during his playing days, Garth made the move the behind the bench in his early 20s, guiding a generation of players through the East Hants Minor Hockey Association (EHMHA), including a provincial Peewee AAA title-winning team in 2000 as an assistant. He took over as EHMHA president in 1991 and began to work his way up the Hockey Nova Scotia ladder, eventually serving as chair of Minor Council from 2008-11, vice-president of operations from 2011-15 and finally president of the Member from 2015-19, working closely with the Hockey Canada Board of Directors.
Under his leadership, Hockey Nova Scotia admitted the first female hockey association, and started or enhanced programs for new Canadians, para hockey, special-needs hockey and blind hockey. Garth’s goal, as it always has been, was to welcome as many players to the game as possible. Respectful, considerate and insightful, Garth has long been a champion of the game, and of those who play it.
He played the game growing up in Toronto and proudly coached his sons through their minor hockey journey with the Humber Valley Sharks, but it is in the boardroom where Michael Penman has made his most significant impact on Canada’s game.
A skilled lawyer with Blaney McMurtry, Michael first got involved as counsel with the Greater Toronto Hockey League (GTHL) in 1979, beginning a relationship that would last 36 years. He joined the GTHL Executive Committee in 1996, the same year he chaired the GTHL Constitution Committee, and rose to join the Ontario Hockey Federation (OHF) Board of Directors in 2000. Upon his appointment as chair of the OHF Constitution Committee in 2002, Michael led the process to consolidate the regulations of the OHF into one clear and concise document.
His ability to see the practical but achievable approach in the game led Michael to be a leader with the OHF, and in 2015 he took on the position of first vice-president. That ended his full-time affiliation with the GTHL, and he was made an Honorary Life Member. In his final years of service, Michael led a major governance change, spearheading the move to an independent OHF Board of Directors before his retirement in 2018.
If you have ever been involved in hockey in Salmon Arm, B.C. – player, coach, official, fan – then the name Roy Sakaki holds plenty of meaning. Over the last 50 years, Roy has become the heart of the game in the city, earning the moniker Mr. Hockey among locals.
A graduate of the University of British Columbia and a talented player in his own right, Roy arrived in the Shuswap in the early 1970s and got involved right away behind the bench with the Salmon Arm Minor Hockey Association. Over the next two decades he coached up and down the association, guiding his own kids and thousands of others through the game. He traded his clipboard for a whistle in the early 1990s and started officiating, and 30 years later he continues to mentor young officials to strive for excellence and not just collect a paycheque.
In 2005, after volunteer stints as coach coordinator and referee-in-chief, Roy took over as administrator for the SAMHA. He is the glue that keeps everything running smoothly, a voice of reason on committees and has a natural ability to diffuse conflict with great perspective and a big smile. His love for the game and gentle spirit shines through in ways only people in his community can fully understand.
He may have departed Hockey Manitoba in August 2019 to take a position as west regional director with Hockey Canada, but Scott Furman left his fingerprints all over the provincial Member during a 17-year run with the organization.
With a commitment to finance, minor hockey and program operations, Scott played an instrumental role in establishing a number of projects, including a seamless launch and delivery of the half-ice program for U9 hockey that was in place years before it was nationally mandated by Hockey Canada. He also led a number of major projects surrounding the 100th anniversary of the Member in 2015, and his focus on strengthening the Hockey Manitoba brand led to the recruitment, acquisition and activation of a variety of long-term partners that helped triple the total sponsorship revenue over his tenure.
A minor hockey coach for his sons Andrew and Patrick, Scott provided essential leadership up and down the game and earned the respect of peers, colleagues and volunteers with his confidence, belief and commitment to make hockey better for Manitobans.
As the first full-time general counsel for Hockey Canada, Sean Kelly is a busy man. And while his contributions to the organization might not register with the average fan, his work ethic, determination and pursuit of excellence have helped shape the direction of the game.
Years of legal experience allows Sean to provide support on executing contracts that benefit Hockey Canada, from high performance to partnerships, events and third-party vendor agreements. He has been a leader through significant changes to the Hockey Canada Board of Directors, including the latest move to a more diverse group, he oversees more than 300 appeals every season, and he played a key role in providing legal interpretations when the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the 2019-20 season and forced the cancellation of a number of events, most notably the 2020 IIHF Women’s World Championship.
Sean leads by example, not by the volume of his voice. His calm demeanour is perfectly suited to his hectic role, and his fact-based approach keeps the organization on a steady path and helps foster strong relationships with host committees, partners, athletes and vendors.