INDUCTION CEREMONIES HELD IN NIPAWIN AUG 3, 2019
Wes Smith got his start in the Rutherford Rink in Saskatoon during the 1971 season where he started to make his mark on the game, and give thousands of hours of his time, so others could play the game they loved.
The first game Wes refereed featured a bench-clearing brawl!
Just like for players and coaches, the post-season is also special for officials who get to advance in the playoffs. Wes was a regular at that time of year, working the Allan Cup, Hardy Cup, RBC National Junior “A” Championship and CIAU Finals.
Off the ice, Wes is still a key resource for Hockey Canada when Saskatchewan hosts such events as the World Junior Hockey Championships, Memorial Cup and University Cup. A Level 6 Certified Official, Wes and his son Alan, another SJHL official, are one of a few father-son combinations to achieve their Level 6 in Canada.
Wes has worked in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League for 45 years. 17 on the ice, 15 as either the northern supervisor or Referee-In-Chief, and the last 15 years supervising and coaching young officials who we need to help keep this great game alive.
In 2006 he was inducted into the Saskatoon Sports Hall of Fame and in 2014, was welcomed as a member of the Saskatchewan Hockey Hall of Fame.
Born and raised in the small farming town of Kerrobert, Saskatchewan, the youngest of six children, five boys and a girl, Curtis Murphy would say his older brothers toughened him up, but he was the baby and was off limits. They did make Curtis work harder and learn faster to try to keep up with them.
Curtis’s hockey career started on the frozen “dugouts” and skating with my family and cousins.
Whether it was playing games, watching games, or officiating games, Curtis’s family winter life revolved around the rink. Curtis was able to have many good coaches, his dad included. They all helped him learn the game and how to play it. Most of the time Curtis’s learning was done trying to keep up with the big boys.
Curtis played out his youth hockey in Kerrobert until Bantam age, when he played a season with the Unity Lazers Bantam AA team. From there he broke the family mold of playing for the Saskatoon Blazers (3 brothers played before him) and went to the rival Saskatoon Contacts.
After his last year Curtis went to Nipawin, having had a brother who played in Nipawin (Todd) before him, with lots to live up to, and he had a great career with the Hawks. As luck would have it Curtis was able to billet with the same family, the Weibe’s. One big reason Curtis only played one year was having a coach like Bruce Thompson who wanted his players to grow and move onto higher leagues. He always was able to get the best out of every player on the roster.
Curtis has many fond memories of his time in Nipawin, rookie parties, tubing in the streets, but also the team they were able to assemble and how the pieces fit together. For an 18 year old farm kid, Curtis enjoyed every minute of his time in Nipawin.
One memory was when the Hawks took their helmets off in Flin Flon sporting their playoff hairdos and got some rather strong responses from their fans. Most which can’t be written!
With this culture he had a strong season and was able to receive offers from Schools in the NCAA. Not really thinking there would be opportunities to go to the NCAA this soon, Curtis went on recruiting trips and settled on University of North Dakota, Fighting Sioux. Again, having a tie to Curtis’s family, an older brother Keith who was currently playing for North Dakota.
Curtis played four full years at North Dakota and one great memory of winning a National Championship in 1997. He was also able to play a full season with his older brother.
After University Curtis started his pro career in Orlando with the Solar Bears of the IHL.
Then it was off to a new league, the AHL after signing with the Minnesota Wild organization, where he won a Calder Cup in 2002 with Houston. A brief stint followed with Nashville’s organization, a year in Milwaukee and another Calder Cup in 2003.
While those were huge career highlights, no championship can compare to his lovely wife Kelli and 4 children Chandler, Hayden, Reese , and Carter.
In the lockout year Curtis made the trek over to Russia to play with the Yaroslavl Lokomotiv. Curtis enjoyed the experience to live a year in Russia and live in a much different culture, before returning to the Houston Aeros, and was fortunate to get the call to the Minnesota Wild for one game in 2002-03.
Curtis decide to make the jump to Europe, having kids in school which was not an easy decision.
Curtis’s new career started in Langnau, Switzerland. Going back to his roots and choosing a smaller farming town to play for, Curtis believes they thought he was crazy for not choosing the bigger city team Bern. He spent four years exploring Europe and Switzerland.
His next travels took them to the city of Linz, Austria and the EBEL league, where he helped them win the EBEL championship in the first year, which set him up for four fun years in Linz.
Curtis’s biggest take away from this was their kids being able to see and experience another culture and also learning the language.
Not wanting to move again in Europe Curtis’s career came to a halt at 39, really was shooting for 40. The children were getting too old and it was time to settle down.
Curtis and his family returned to Canada and set up shop In Calgary for three years, before it was time to return back to Houston, where Curtis and his family currently reside.