Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League




Gerald Botterill

Gerald was a very community-sports minded Individual and hockey was his number one sport.

When it became apparent that Nipawin was ready for a higher level of hockey, Gerald, along with a group of interested persons, pursued a Jr. A Franchise for the town of Nipawin. This was achieved and put into place for the fall of 1985 and to this day it has been a successful franchise in that it is a tremendous source of entertainment for our community. It has helped to put Nipawin on the map.

Gerald worked hard with the coaches, the team and the directors. He was always there with words of encouragement and worked as hard as the rest to make the franchise a success.

One of his main objectives was to work hand-in-hand with minor hockey and because this was accomplished everything worked well.

A Scholarship Plan was very important to him so he had this put into place and organized events to help raise funds for it. He felt that it was important for the team and an incentive to draw players to the community.

He had his own unique way of organizing fundraisers and these included bingos, raffles, concerts, tail gate parties. It was Gerald’s idea to start the Radio Auction, which was, and still is, one of the major fundraisers for the club.

When the franchise was achieved for Nipawin in the fall of 1985 Gerald served as its first president from 1985-1990. He also served as a league governor with the SJHL during this time. In 1993-1994 he again served as vice president for the Hawks.

Today the fundraising continues- the Ag Venture is one of the biggest, it has the invaluable support from the farming community to make it a success. The Tobin Lake Fishing Tournament is also a popular one, with of course the raffles– they include selling tickets for boats, vehicles, quads or whatever the organizers think will be a good sell. Thanks has to be extended to all those dedicated volunteers.

Gerald would have been very pleased to be included in the inductee list. He was involved in the Nipawin Hawks because he loved the challenge and the hockey. Congratulations to all the other inductees, you all have an important part in the Jr. Hawks history. Thanks to the organizers, it’s been a wonderful weekend.

Greg Classen

Greg grew up on the family farm three miles north of Aylsham. Greg’s Dad (Gord) built an ice rink for all the children and from an early age he learned to skate. Countless family hours were spent out on the rink, most notably with Greg’s brother Bryce, sister Lori, cousin Cris and many friends and neighbours.

Greg’s first year of organized hockey was with the Zenon Park Dragons at age four. The following year Greg began playing in Carrot River where some awesome memories were made. When Greg was in the sixth grade, the school in Aylsham closed and Greg was transferred to Nipawin. That year began about a 10-year run of wearing the Hawks black and gold.

After a one-year stint with the Tisdale Trojans of the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League, Greg entered the SJHL with the Hawks for the 1994-95 season where Greg was fortunate to skate along side his brother and cousin for a few seasons. Greg spent four years with the Hawks playing in 223 games and registering 198 points on 73 goals and 125 assists.

His play with the Hawks got him a scholarship to Merrimack College, an NCAA Division 1 school, and after collecting 25 points in 36 games in his first season he was selected to the NCAA Hockey East all-rookie team.

Greg decided to turn professional after just two years at college and in his first full season as a pro he experienced the ultimate thrill when he dressed for 27 games with the National Hockey League’s Nashville Predators. With two goals and four assists during that stretch he remained with the NHL club for most of the next season and had 11 points in 55 games.

Greg was back in the American Hockey League with the Milwaukee Admirals for the 2003-04 campaign, but even that worked out well as he was part of a Calder Cup-winning team that season.

Greg bounced around the AHL for the next few seasons and since 2008-09 he has been a fixture in European professional leagues. In fact, this spring as a 41-year-old, he completed a spectacular campaign that saw him collect 46 points in 48 games with Rostock Piranhas of the Germany3 League.

Derek Crawford

For four seasons Derek Crawford put the Nipawin Hawks on the Canadian Junior Hockey League map.

In his rookie season Crawford scored 41 goals and totalled 78 points in 64 games. He followed that up with 60 points in 57 games as a sophomore and a year later he tallied 73 points in 59 games. His final season was his best when Crawford tore up the league netting 46 goals and setting up 49 others for 95 points in just 64 games.

All totalled, Crawford’s name is at the top of almost every offensive category in the Nipawin Hawks’ record book. He has played the most games at 252; is first in points with 306; No. 1 in goals with 132 and assists with 174. Just for good measure he also has sat out the most minutes in penalties with 1106.

Rob Daum, who was Crawford’s coach for three of his four seasons in Nipawin, had this to say about his former star.

“Firstly, please pass on all my best to the people in Nipawin and the Hawks organization. They will always have a special place in my heart.”

As for Derek… HE was a hockey player.

When I first saw Derek, it was my initial training camp with the Hawks, and he was tall and thin. He was all arms and legs stumbling all over the ice like Bambi in the Disney movie when he first stepped on the frozen pond.

He could not skate a lick, yet he always seemed to get to where he needed to go before anyone else. If he had a stride on his opponent, it soon became two. It defied logic but it happened over and over again.

Derek could not pass, but every pass he attempted ended up on a teammate’s tape and you wondered, “how the hell did that happen?”

He could not shoot, but he would float his “feathered wobblers” at the net and inexplicably he would score.

Bambi couldn’t handle the puck, but he would go into a corner with four players and come out with possession.

He would attack the best defencemen in the SJHL, arms and legs flailing all over the place, and he would beat them one on one. The puck seemed to be glued to his stick. He kept it when he was on his knees, his back and his ass and trust me with the way he skated he was often in these positions! He couldn’t handle it, but he always kept it. It made no sense.

Derek Crawford was tough. A strong Saskatchewan wind could blow him over, but he would fight the toughest players in the SJ to protect his teammates or to send a message.

He feared no one. He had “balls the size of pumpkins”.

Bambi was a fierce competitor who played for the team and possessed a burning desire to win.

He didn’t have skills better than any other player but Bambi played the game better than most.

Derek Crawford was a hockey player!

For the next decade, Derek enjoyed pro hockey south of the border. He played with Greensboro and Dayton in the East Coast Hockey League; With Dallas in the Central Hockey League; with the Reno Renegades of the West Coast Hockey League and finally for four seasons with the New Mexico Scorpions of the Western Professional League.

Following his playing career, Derek spent 19 years working as the general manager of NRG Staging and enjoying life with his wife Cristy and daughter Rylie.

As you know, Derek passed away unexpectedly at the age of 46. His family was unable to attend tonight, but they send their sincere gratitude to everyone in the town of Nipawin for continuing to celebrate Derek’s life as a Nipawin Hawk.