Somewhere around 180 hockey players and their family and friends had packed themselves around banquet tables in preparation for the Nakusp Minor Hockey Awards Night Tuesday, May 1.
After another table was set up to accommodate all the folks who had showed up, and the long line for free beverages had diminished, Rusty Reimer took up the mic and kicked off the congratulations.
Right off the top, Ryan Struck was awarded Coach of the Year for all of Nakusp Minor Hockey, a well-deserved award. Struck, the only coach without kids enrolled in Minor Hockey, led the Midgets to a banner win and third place in the province for their Tier.
Dugan McInnes was up next as Junior Referee of the Year, and Cam Leitch, not in attendance that night, was awarded Senior Ref.
The Scrimmage League, a new and welcome addition last year, was a great opportunity for kids to get some time learning the basics of hockey before they started on one of the Minor Hockey teams, and six kids who took part received certificates at the awards night.
Both the Junior and Senior Novices were recognized by their coaches and the attendees that night. The two cute bunches were coached by Wayne Abbott this year.
The PeeWee House team, a tight-knit group who achieved high this year, were given their awards by Head Coach Ken Nishida.
“This team had 34 wins, no losses, and one tie for the whole season,” Crystal Volansky told the Arrow Lakes News. “The first game they played was a league game that they tied and then they won every game after that.” The team won the West Kootenay Minor Hockey League Banner at the Playoff here in Nakusp, and then they went on to win tournaments in Nelson, Sicamous and Beaver Valley.
Nishida introduced each of the players with a short, insightful recap which gave each of the players their due. Best All Around Player went to high-scorer Ryan MacDonald and Kobe Nishida took home Most Defensive Player. Brody Herridge, who let very few pucks past him, was Goalie of the Year. Reese McCrory was given Most Sportsmanlike, and Eric Vieira garnered honourable mention, while Raven Atherton and Hailey Herridge were awarded Most Dedicated. Jacob LaPlante, who said he scored 86 goals this season, was named for three separate awards: Most Improved, High Scorer and Playmaker.
The PeeWees had become a real team; all the players cheered on and congratulated each other with high-fives or knuckle punches. Each PeeWee House player also received a mini-banner from Manager Mel Herridge in commemoration of their win.
By the time Bantams Coach Barry Streliev got up to the mic, nearly half the room had emptied out, leaving before all the honourees had had their time on stage.
The Bantams had faced a tough season, with seven players having to travel from Kaslo in order to be part of the team. What it meant was a lot of practising hockey skills rather than building as a team. Best Goalie was awarded to Dugan McInnes, Best All Around went to Ashlee Herridge and David Faucher, while Kira Streliev took the Playmaker award. Austin MacDonald and Jordan Deakoff were both awarded Most Defensive Player, and Hannah Enns was Most Sportsmanlike. Most dedicated went to Cole Bendis and Most Improved to Arturs Vilks.
For the finale, Midget Rep Head Coach and Minor Hockey Coach of the Year Ryan Struck told the room about his experience with the Midgets over the last season. Unfortunately, over half the audience had already left and missed his inspired speech and the Midgets’ moment of glory.
For those of you who missed it, Struck spoke about the dedication of all the players who started dry land training in advance of the season and avidly followed a rigourous schedule of training and practise without complaint.
Not only that, every young man on the team achieved the noteworthy goals that Struck had set out at the beginning of the season, to improve on the ice and to become a better person. Struck saw all the players develop into honourable men that were respectful of others: team mates, other players, teachers, coaches and parents.
“I consider each one a part of my family,” Struck said.
The Midgets, many of whom were dressed in shirt and tie under their team jackets, were like a more grown up version of the PeeWees. They were also very clearly a close team. The Best all Around award was given to Ryan Bateman, and Playmaker of the Year to Kellan Nishida. Levi Cordingley took home Most Defensive Player and Cameron MacPherson was awarded Goalie of the Year. Connor Reimer was named Most Improved, and Damin Devlin, Most Dedicated, while Most Sportsmanlike went to Jake Streliev.
Once their time before the firing line of cameras was up, the Midgets continued to show their quality by helping to clean up the auditorium, working together as a team in our community.