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Alberni Valley Minor Hockey Association announces year-end awards via video

Rink closure, COVID-19 made for ‘extraordinary’ minor hockey season: AVMHA president
Alberni Valley Minor Hockey Association volunteers Kellie Steel, left, Josh Fowler and Sarah Bielert receive accolades for their contributions to minor hockey in 2019-20. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)

The Alberni Valley Minor Hockey Association closed the most unusual season it has ever faced with a live-via-video award presentation on April 1.

“This is not how I imagined the year-end wrapup would go,” AVMHA president Mike Doucette said to start the awards announcement, held outside the front door of the AV Multiplex.

“No one could have predicted the obstacles that were put in front of us. The rink closure was an unexpected and difficult situation for everyone. Seeing the entire membership pull together and make the best of a tough situation was inspirational.”

The Multiplex was closed for three weeks in November 2019 after an ammonia leak was discovered in the brand new ice plant. The closure forced cancellation of a number of tournaments, practices and games during one of the busiest months of the minor hockey season.

READ: Ammonia leak closes Port Alberni hockey rink

READ: Faulty welds caused ammonia leak at Alberni Valley Multiplex: TSBC report

“It wasn’t until I was fortunate enough to get elected to this position that I was able to see just how much effort it takes behind the scenes for our kids to be able to play the game we love,” Doucette said. “It’s been amazing working with the people on this executive and management committee. I can’t thank them all enough, not just for their regular duties for the extra that was needed during this extraordinary season.

“We’re doing the best we can to wrap up this season safely, staying within recommended guidelines from our health minister and the government,” he said. Executive meetings were held via conference or video call; players have been asked to hold onto jerseys and equipment until the AVMHA is able to access the AV Multiplex for storage.

The annual general meeting will be postponed “indefinitely,” he said, because members are unable to gather for an in-person meeting due to provincial health restrictions for the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Doucette announced team and individual awards.

Coach of the Year - Josh Fowler

Fowler coached the Atom Development team this year, including his son McClean. “I tried for so many days to figure out the words for it,” Fowler said after learning of his award. He said it is really a team award, and recognized the rest of his coaching staff: Kirk Fong, Joel Salmon and Darren Dorn.

“We all brought something different to the team and that is a huge factor with the success that we had this season. (This award) really shows how the whole team came together: the kids, the parents and the coaches.

“Those kids blew me away this year. They jelled as a team almost instantly.”

Fowler, who has coached for five years, also led the Novice Minor team, which includes his daughter Quinn.

Marilyn Gibson Volunteer of the Year Award - Kellie Steel

Steel has been involved with the AVMHA for 13 years, and managed the midget rep team this year. “Her team had a tournament cancelled because of the multiplex closure and she pulled through,” tournament coordinator Sarah Bielert said. Steel organized a beer and burger fundraiser that helped the team raise funds lost when their tourney was cancelled.

Steel announced that this is her final year with AVMHA. Her son Carson was captain of the midget team this year and has now graduated from the program. Her younger son, Robbie, is in Grade 10 and plays with the North Island Silvertips minor midget team.

Above and Beyond - Sarah Bielert

Bielert was the ice allocator, tournament and gaming coordinator for the AVMHA this year, and she also managed the Initiation players. Doucette recognized her “for her above and beyond effort to keep the skates on the ice.”

Doucette also thanked Oceanside Minor Hockey Association for opening their ice times to Port Alberni so they were able to play many of their games in Parksville.

The AVMHA lost a number of home tournaments due to the arena shutdown in the fall. One team rescheduled their tournament to late March, only to have it quashed a second time due to coronavirus restrictions.

“It was a very tough year,” Bielert said. “It was a fun one; a real rollercoaster ride.”

Bielert has been with AVMHA for eight years; the 2019-20 season was her final one in Port Alberni, as she will be moving to Calgary later this year.

Other individual award winners were:

Jessica States Memorial Award - Brielle Banton, peewee.

Rookie Referee of the Year - Keelan Parmar

Top Referee of the Year - Ryan Turgeon

Graduating Players (Sponsors of grads in brackets): Tanner Clydesdale (Tyler No Frills), Nikolas Dwolinsky (Tyler No Frills); Mason Madison (AVMHA); Abby Nelson (Sproat Lake Pile Driving); David Porter (AVMHA); Seth Price (Clydesdale Automotive); Angelo Sarlandie (Acoustic Woods Ltd.); Carson Steel (Tyler No Frills); Jordan Villafane (Staples); Kollin Walker (IOCC); Arrianna Ward (Quality Foods).

Graduating players are usually presented with their midget jerseys at the awards banquet. “They’re going to get their grad jerseys,” Bielert said. “Due to social distancing they’re not getting them right now.”

Individual teams also recognized individual awards for most dedicated, most sportsmanlike and most improved players.

Atom Team 1 Tigers

Coaches: Danielle Fong

• Most Dedicated Player: Dylan Porter

• Most Sportsmanlike Player: Jailyn Little

• Most Improved Player: Cian Flint

Atom Team 2 Knights

Coaches: Mike Foster

• Most Dedicated Player: Danika Foster

• Most Sportsmanlike Player: Kaz Westcott

• Most Improved Player: Alex McVie

Atom Development

Coaches: Josh Fowler, Kirk Fong, Joel Salmon, Darren Dorn

• Most Dedicated Player: Coaches do not want to provide a winner

• Most Sportsmanlike Player: Kolten Brown

• Most Improved Player: Daxten Swanson

Peewee Team 1

Coaches: Ryan Sexton, Jasmine Meikle

• Most Dedicated Player: Jamie Baines

• Most Sportsmanlike Player: Aiden Wilson

• Most Improved Player: Coen Erickson

Peewee Team 2

Coaches: Jeremy Russell, Kerri Poirier

• Most Dedicated Player: Alex Fred

• Most Sportsmanlike Player: Conner Russell

• Most Improved Player: Vihann Meyer

Peewee Bulldogs

Coaches: Jamie Ralston, Lucas Banton, Jason Kevis

• Most Dedicated Player: Peyton Lucas

• Most Sportsmanlike Player: Jaxson Brown

• Most Improved Player: Kaysen Brossoit

Bantam Team 1

Coaches: Kyle Penner, Larry Hodgson, Aaron Heenan

• Most Dedicated Player: Spencer Meikle

• Most Sportsmanlike Player: Jimmy Cook

• Most Improved Player: Jacob Dobosz

Bantam Bulldogs

Coaches: Kelly Fines, Brock Elder

• Most Dedicated Player: Hunter Alarie

• Most Sportsmanlike Player: Declan Fines

• Most Improved Player: Alex Siermacheski

Midget Team 1

Coaches: Stephen Tramer, Ryan Dwolinsky, Bob King, Curtis Buxton

• Most Dedicated Player: Angelo Sarlandie

• Most Sportsmanlike Player: Ryann Tramer

• Most Improved Player: Brad Kozocari

Midget Bulldogs

Coaches: Wade Nicklin, Kelly Clydesdale, Blake Frechette, Carson McCulloch

• Most Dedicated Player: Noah Braiden

• Most Sportsmanlike Player: Colton Scott

• Most Improved Player: Aaron Torfs

Josh Fowler, named Coach of the Year for 2019-20 by Alberni Valley Minor Hockey Association, coached the atom development and novice minor teams this year. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
No matter the weather or circumstances, Kellie Steel could be counted on to help with whatever hockey task was needed. She earned Volunteer of the Year for 2019-20 from the AVMHA. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
In a year that saw hockey tournaments cancelled over an ammonia leak at the Alberni Valley Multiplex, then a season cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic, Sarah Bielert handled it with aplomb. The AVMHA awarded her the Above and Beyond award for 2019-20. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
Brielle Banton, a peewee player with the Alberni Valley Minor Hockey Association, was named the 2019-20 Jessica States Award winner. (PHOTO COURTESY BANTON FAMILY) Brielle Banton, a peewee player with the Alberni Valley Minor Hockey Association, was named the 2019-20 Jessica States Award winner. (PHOTO COURTESY BANTON FAMILY)
Brielle Banton, a peewee player with the Alberni Valley Minor Hockey Association, was named the 2019-20 Jessica States Award winner. (PHOTO COURTESY BANTON FAMILY) Brielle Banton, a peewee player with the Alberni Valley Minor Hockey Association, was named the 2019-20 Jessica States Award winner. (PHOTO COURTESY BANTON FAMILY)

Susie Quinn

About the Author: Susie Quinn

A journalist since 1987, I proudly serve as the Alberni Valley News editor.
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