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.
“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.