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Hall of Fame

NIPAWIN - AUGUST 3, 2019


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.


CURTIS MURPHY

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.


NOLAN SCHAEFER

Nolan Schaefer was raised in Yellow Grass Saskatchewan by his parents Peter and Tracy Schaefer. Nolan’s brother Peter was a long time NHL left winger and Gold Medalist for the Canadian World Junior Hockey Team, sister Falin played for the Canadian National Volleyball Team.

During Nolan’s time spent with the Nipawin Hawks, Nolan committed to Providence College where he played four years and graduated with a Bachelors Degree in Fine Arts and a Minor in Art History.

Nolan was named an All American in his Sophomore season as well as the New England Sportswriters Award and Hockey East All Academic Team. He holds the record for most career saves as a goaltender for the Providence College Friars. During his four years in College, Nolan met his wife Lisa and was married at the age of 25.

After his sophomore year at Providence Nolan was drafted in the 5th round to the San Jose Sharks. Nolan went on to play for three seasons in the San Jose Sharks organization. The highlight of his playing career came when he entered the NHL with a 5-0 rookie season start boasting a .920 SVS% and a 1.87 GAA. Unfortunately, that would be the last time Schaefer saw NHL ice. However, he spent many very good seasons in the AHL finishing first in league statistics with the Minnesota Wilds minor league team, the Houston Aeros and playing in the AHL All Star game.

Nolan then made his first venture to Europe by playing one season in the KHL for the CSKA or Red Army under General manager and head coach Sergei Nemchinov. He then attempted to make a comeback into the NHL by signing with the Boston Bruins in 2011 where the team went on to win the Stanley Cup backstopped by Tim Thomas. From there he signed in Ambri-Piotta of the Swiss NLA and received his Swiss passport and finished his last four years in Switzerland.

Amidst all of the hockey movement and playing for over 12 teams, Schaefer’s wife Lisa became severely ill after there first year of marriage in 2005. They spent 7 years during his career going to doctors and specialists trying to find a cure for an unknown and life-threatening illness. The visited over 50 doctors and specialists in 2007 and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on non-traditional medical therapy’s and treatments. At the end of the 7 years of treatments and anti-biotics Schaefer and his wife refocused their life on God and living the message of Jesus.

Less than three months later Lisa was free of illness and living her life as if nothing had ever happened.

Nolan retired 4 years ago upon the birth of their second daughter to continue the victories of his family life at his new home in Milford, Connecticut. At this time, he joined forces with former New York Rangers goaltender Steve Valiquette in coaching goaltenders for a business called Clear Sight Development and a cutting-edge hockey analytics company called Clear Sight Analytics. Clear Sight Analytics’ growing client list includes the Toronto Maple Leafs and several other NHL Teams and is expected to change how hockey is viewed with a ew perspective on the game.

Nolan now lives with passion and a love for God, fatherhood, marriage, and mentoring young goaltenders and local youth at his Church in Milford. He lives happily with wife Lisa, daughter’s Bella, Rose, and baby Nolyn.... To be continued!!!!


MARK SMITH

Mark Smith was born in Edmonton, AB., but moved to Saskatchewan at the age of 3 and grew up on a farm, 15 miles from Eyebrow, SK. Mark has an older brother and sister, and they kept each other busy making up any games their minds could invent, as well as working on the farm, just like any young kid from Saskatchewan, to help the family business of farming stay afloat. Little did he know, he was learning what hard work and dedication meant, and thought nothing of it, as this was all I knew.

Childhood
At a young age, Mark remembers hockey always being a big part of their household. Being born in Edmonton, and having a lot of family from there, it was easy to be an Oiler fan growing up in the ’80s. Saturday nights were usually spent adjusting the rabbit ears and crowding around the TV to watch the Oilers make easy work of whoever their victims happen to be that night. If we were lucky, Channel 4 looked more like a hockey game than a snowstorm, and we could watch our heroes, Gretzky and Messier work their magic. It wouldn’t take long before number 11 would become my childhood hero, primarily because we shared the same name, but as Mark watched his game evolve over the years, it would be his tough style of play, coupled with his extraordinary skills, that would be the blueprint he would pattern his game after. Just like any other kid that would dream of being their hero, Mark adopted the love for number 11 and claimed it to be “his number”, something that every player holds as being sacred throughout their careers.

At home, Mark and his siblings started skating on a frozen ditch during the winter, but after a lot of begging, convinced their dad to level some ground and make a rink we could flood. Over the years, the rink would evolve, but we could never seem to really dial it in. It always seemed that one end had really good ice, and the other end would be, “dodge the dirt clumps”. We would also eventually convince dad to let us skate on the pond outback. But that was usually 3 hours of scraping snow for about 20 square feet of ice, then usually 2 mins of hockey, before someone shot the puck into the bushes, and the game was over.

Mark spent a lot more time their basement, which their parents let them convert into a hockey rink, we had full-on boards that we had got from ripping down an old grainery and built nets out of 2 by 4’s and chicken wire. There were many intense battles between Mark’s brother and him, and more than a handful of fights to go with it… but I really feel like this was where I started to really develop my skills. Tight area stickhandling, puck protection, and creative dangling. This was a daily occurrence for us now that we didn’t have to battle the elements. Mark remembers spending hours down there and coming up pouring sweat. It was absolute, pure joy for him.

Growing up on the farm, they didn’t have too many options for places to play hockey, just the local team made up of all the farm kids. They spent their early years playing at Brownlee, SK., where they actually had an indoor rink with boards, but in the years to come, after showing our parents that we truly loved the game, and showed some promise. We talked them into making the 30-minute drive to Central Butte, where they actually had artificial ice and a real Zamboni. This meant we didn’t have to watch our parents get out the shovels between periods, and scrape the snow. It was amazing to play on freshly cut ice.

Hockey Career
Central Butte had one of the best hockey programs in the area, and Mark was so excited to play there. Mark remembers being in awe of the older kids, and seeing how good they were, and dedicated to winning. I remember watching Dallas and Clarke Wilm and wanting to be able to play like them. Mark remembers Clarke looking and playing like Messier, which of course blew my mind, and since they played on my brother's team, I would study their moves, steal them, and then use them against the guys I played against. Little did Mark know, this was the start of how he would develop as a player. Mark would focus on the players that he thought were the best, and copy their moves, and style. This was how he got good and broadened his skill set. Mark would only take their best skills and habits, practice them, and add them to his toolbox. He did this all the way to the NHL. Here is a list of players Mark played with at one time or another and stole something from each of them. His game has at least one part of each of these players in it. Mark credits all of them for helping him get to the NHL. *Derek Smith, Clarke Wilm, Chad Reich, Jason Cowan, Rejean Stringer, **Byron Richie, Steve Guolla, Dan Boyle, Vincent Damphousse, Scott Thornton.

* Mark’s brother was the guy that ultimately pushed him, and is the sole reason Mark made it as a hockey player. He remembers that he didn’t really have the drive he did or the ambition to win. He only learned this after being constantly beaten down, and losing time and time again, coupled with the taunting and ridiculing of being a little brother and a loser. Somewhere along the way, Mark got tired of it and realized he had to push myself if he ever wanted to beat him. He pushed me to train, to believe in myself, he taught me to win. I won 1 fair fight against him in my life, the last one we had. That was the moment we became best friends. Did I mention he was a very smart hockey player too?

** Byron Richie is the player that influenced Mark’s style the most. In my heavy development years from 17-19, Mark watched and copied his style as closely as he could. Ritchie’s drive, speed, hockey sense, defensive play, and offensive punch, was the most complete Mark had seen in any hockey player. Ritchie probably isn’t aware of what an impact he had on Mark’s career, but without watching him for 3 years, Mark would not have evolved into the player he became.

Mark remembers at this point in my journey, his parents were 100% dedicated to allowing him to push my career as far as he could. At times he would get distracted easily, and focus was never his strong point. Mark remembers his Dad taking him out to the garage one day, and pounding a nail into the wall, he told me.

“If you don’t want to play hockey, we’ll hang your skates on the wall, and you never have to play again. We won’t be disappointed and will support you 100% in your decision. If you do want to play, we will drive you all over the countryside and support you 100%, but if we dedicate our time and effort into doing this for you, we expect you to put in the same effort.” Without being demanding of me, he put the responsibility into my hands. This was the encouragement I needed and started to realize the sacrifice everyone else had to make, to allow me to do what I loved. They never had to encourage me again, and the way they supported me would be a huge contributor to my success. I’m very thankful for their support and encouragement over the years.

Once Mark was of bantam age, he left Central Butte and headed to play in Moose Jaw, SK. After years of his dad trying to convince Moose Jaw that we lived in their “zone” for hockey, they finally agreed to let us “try-out”. Mark would be lying if I said that politics had nothing to do with how these teams were formed, but against all odds as the “out of towner”, he won the respect of his coaches, and they agreed to keep me on the team as the “last spot”. Lloyd Dobresku and Doug Mason would be his coaches, and this would later play an important role in the following years. He played 2 full seasons in Moose Jaw, and during his second year, he would get the chance to play with his older brother a few times, as a call up to the midget “AAA” team. This was a pivotal time in his career, as a young coach by the name of Curt Folkett, who happened to be an assistant coach at that time.

During the offseason, things looked to be aligning that he would go back to Moose Jaw, and play for the Midget AAA team. However, he received a letter that summer from a team called the Nipawin Hawks. It seems that they had picked up a new coach by the name of Bruce Thompson, as well as hiring a new assistant coach, Curt Folkett. The letter stated that both Mark and his brother had been put on their protected list, and they wanted us to come to camp that fall and try out. For any kid that played hockey in Canada, playing junior hockey was the ultimate goal. Mark remembers the excitement that he felt, and how playing AAA, seemed more like a consolation prize now. With his sights were set on the SJHL, and it seemed like finally, someone wanted to give us an actual opportunity, not just a team that made us feel like they were doing us a favor by letting us play. Mark packed his most trusted assets, my hockey gear and my stereo. As we were leaving, Mark’s brother asked, “Why are you bringing your stereo?”
To which I simply replied, “Because, I’m not coming back”.
At 15 years old, Mark would leave for Nipawin and never live at home full time again. I’m sure this was harder on my parents than it was on Mark.

Mark played one season in the SJHL and learned a lot. Playing in a league that was much older, and had a lot of 20-year-olds was challenging. Mark remembers how smart the players were compared to what he was used to. They would “suck you in”, and then make soft plays behind you to open ice. The speed of the game was no longer how fast you could skate, but how fast your brain could process information, and move the puck. He was no longer playing against boys, he was playing against men. This unfortunately also transitioned into what happened between whistles, where the strength of these men was evident. I had my first real hockey fight in the SJHL, actually, I had 6 of them that year. My record was 0-6; punches thrown: 0; punches taken: too many. Mark knew if he was going to survive, he would need to toughen up. Mark had never experienced such hard work and dedication. The drive to win and the sacrifice it takes to be successful, on and off the ice, was a complete eye-opener for him. Something changed inside Mark’s mindset during that season. Mark learned what it meant to sacrifice for a teammate. He felt the passion to win and the angst of defeat. The coaching and self-confidence he gained, was definitely a huge steppingstone for him, and ultimately prepared him for the coming years. This was an awesome year for him, and a key point in my journey to the NHL.

After that season, Mark was presented with another opportunity, his old coach in bantam, Doug Mason, had started scouting for the Lethbridge Hurricanes, he reached out to Mark, and told me that they had “listed him”, and put me on their protected list. At 16 years old, Mark was forced to make a career-altering decision. He could return to Nipawin, or take my chances and try to make the WHL. With scholarship eligibility on the line, Mark decided to roll the dice and go the WHL route. At this point in his career, he was all about taking giant leaps of faith. Mark went into camp in Lethbridge, and at 16 years old, he would claim the “final spot” on the team. After playing in just 49 games his first season, and getting very limited ice time, it looked as though he had made a bad decision, but if hockey had taught him anything in life, It was to “get up, and don’t feel sorry for yourself”. It seemed he would get a break, as a coaching change would take place, early in my second season, it seemed much of the same from the new coach. No ice time, and no idea of what he could bring to the table. Then, just 24 games into the season, they would fire the coach, and bring in a new coach by the name of Bryan Maxwell. This was the exact moment that changed his career and ultimately allowed me to make the NHL.

From the start, Bryan saw something in Mark’s game that he liked, and Mark started getting more opportunities. By the end of the season, he was playing a solid 3rd line position, as well as first line penalty kill. Some key trades and acquisitions brought toughness, and skills to the team. The team started to believe and the makings of a great team and started to dominate the league. At the end of his first season with Bryan, he remembers Bryan calling in me into the office at the end of the year. He told Mark he would score 30 goals in this league… Mark thinks he burst out laughing. Mark’s last year with Bryan, he scored 42 goals, 67 assists, 109 pts, and 206 PIM. He was right, and he gave me the belief that Mark could play in the NHL.

Mark’s 3rd season with the Hurricanes was by far the best season of his career. The team was an amazing team and ended up winning the WHL. They would eventually fall short by losing in the Memorial Cup finals against Hull, Quebec, in Hull, Quebec (go figure, lol). However, a guy by the name of Patrick Marleau was a highly touted draft prospect, and the Hurricanes just so happen to meet his team in the WHL finals that season. Mark’s job was to shut down Patrick Marleau and the Hurricanes ended up sweeping them in 4 games. Mark believes this is where he caught the eye of the San Jose Sharks, who were obviously scouting Marleau quite heavily at that time. The sharks would go on to pick Marleau 2nd overall in the draft that year. They would also make a selection in the 9th round (219th overall) for a guy by the name of Mark Smith.

After getting drafted, Mark returned to Lethbridge for one more season and after exiting the playoffs that year, he would be sent to play a few games in the playoffs for the Kentucky Thoroughblades, San Jose’s farm team. After signing my first contract with San Jose, which was a standard entry-level contract for 3 years, he would return to Kentucky for the next 2 season’s and play for Roy Sommer. There was a really good group of guys, and he enjoyed playing there, but like any player, his sights were set on the NHL.

Mark would make my NHL debut in San Jose on Oct 6, 2000, in a loss against the St. Louis Blues. Skating through the Shark head was a surreal moment, as all of the childhood dreams he had come to fruition in a single moment. He would go on to play 7 more seasons in the NHL, 6 for the Sharks, and 1 for the Calgary Flames. he would end up injuring his neck on a hit, which would ultimately be the deciding factor for my retirement from hockey. He was 30 years old at the time. Mark ended his NHL career playing 377 games, scoring 23 goals and adding 37 assists. He also added 457 PIM. Mark appeared in 24 playoff games and added 4 goals, 0 assists, and 21pim.

Life after hockey
Since his retirement from hockey, his wife Andrea Alvardo-Smith and he have had 2 wonderful children, Camila (11) and Lucca (9), who are both avid hockey players in San Francisco, where they call home. Mark now a coaches for the San Francisco Sabercat hockey organization and gets to spend a lot of time at the rink coaching them, as well as other up and coming hockey players. His wife is a fashion designer and has her own clothing line called Ayla (pronounced I•la) aylaclothing.com.

After hockey, Mark decided to build a website to support his wife’s business. After several books and sleepless nights, Mark soon found myself immersed in the code, and was entering a world that would soon consume him. A world of websites, shopping carts, database storage, point of sale systems, payment gateways, and building fully dynamic applications. Over the next 8 years, we would sell our home in San Jose and move to Cabo, Mexico, where he taught himself to code, building web and iOS applications. In 2016, we would return to San Francisco, where he would start work for a startup company called PagerDuty. Over the next 3 years, the company would grow exponentially, and on April 11, 2019, PagerDuty would become a public company, trading on the NYSE as “PD”.

Life in San Francisco is pretty amazing, and there is always something to do or see. Mark and his wife value the diverse culture there and love the amazing opportunities that it presents for our children. Mark uses the gifts that hockey has given him every day of his life. Mark once overheard a wise coach tell his parents, “We aren’t teaching your kid to play hockey, we’re teaching him life skills.”

At the time Mark was like, “ya, whatever, I just want to play hockey.”, but as life evolved, he used those life skills a lot more than any “toe drag” someone taught me along the way. He continues to reap the benefits the game of hockey has given to him. The real beauty of the game is, you don’t need to play in the NHL to leverage it. It’s in every hockey player that has ever played on a team and learned those hockey values. Hockey is life.


WES SMITH

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.


REJEAN STRINGER

Rejean (Rej) Stringer was born and raised in Gravelbourg SK in a bilingual family to parents Louis and Gloria.

He left home at the end of grade ten to play for the Swift Current AAA Legionnaires of the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League for the 1989-90 season. In 1991, he came to Nipawin as a 17-year-old and ended up embarking on a four year career with the Hawks and he served the last two as team captain.

Rej graduated from Nipawin’s LP Miller High School in 1992 and in 1995 (his final season as a Hawk) he received a scholarship to Merrimack. He toiled in the NCAA from 1995-1999 finishing his degree in finance.

In 1996-97 he led all NCAA Division I players in assists and the very next year he helped Merrimack score an upset win over top seeded Boston University. He is the current all-time leading scorer at Merrimack and he capped his NCAA tenure with an NHL contract with the San Jose Sharks. He played one season for their AHL farm team in Kentucky and then moved on to the Fresno Falcons of the WCHL and then he played for the Columbia Inferno from 2001-03, losing in the ECHL finals. He made the league’s all-star team in 2002 by putting up 96-points.

He spent 2003-04 in Salzburg, Austria and his team won the league championship. In 2004-05, he returned to the ECHL and split the year between Las Vegas and Peoria.

In 2006, Stringer was retired when he was convinced to join the Cardiff Devils midseason and he scored the winning goal to win the Challenge Cup and it was the last ever goal scored in the Wales National Ice Rink.

Today, he lives in Swift Current and works as an investment advisor. He is married to Dr. Sasha Godenir and they have three children. Kade, Dior, and Veda.


BRUCE THOMPSON

Bruce Thompson’s playing career started at the junior level in the early 1980s with the Melville Millionaires where he emerged as team captain, showing his leadership traits even as a young player. After playing in the WHL with the Brandon Wheat Kings, Thompson remained in Brandon and played five years with the CIAU’s Bobcats, where Bruce was part of the leadership group and culminated his career by being named the school’s Male Athlete Of The Year in his fifth season.

In 1989, he traded in his jersey for a track suit and received unparalleled guidance from legendary SJHL bench boss Dwight McMillan as he worked on the staff of the Weyburn Red Wings. After apprenticing for four years in Weyburn, Bruce’s 7-year legacy with Nipawin began. Overall, in eleven SJHL seasons, Bruce was named SJHL Coach Of The Year three times. He won four division pennants and twice guided his team to the SJHL’s best regular season record.

Bruce developed an impressive track record for turning out Junior ‘A’ graduates to the Canadian university ranks, so it was only fitting that he took over the University of Regina hockey program in 2000, coaching them for five seasons. He remains in Regina today, going into his 15th year educating special education students at Schaller School.

A Bruce Thompson coached team made it to the playoffs of either the SJHL or CIS levels in fifteen of his sixteen years.

With 299 career SJHL wins, he is the winningest coach in Nipawin Hawks history (current coach Doug Johnson enters 2019-20 one win back).


BOB WOODS

Bob Woods played for two seasons in NIpawin (1985-86 and 1986-87), scoring 70-points in 63-games in that second season before moving on to the Brandon Wheat Kings, where he averaged over a point per game at the major junior level. Woods was a WHL All-Star and team Most Valuable Player and that paved the way for the New Jersey Devils to select him in the 1988 NHL Entry Draft.

A 13-year pro career included the American and International Hockey Leagues, the East Coast Hockey League, and Europe. The accolades also followed as he won the 1997 Calder Cup with the AHL’s Hershey Bears, the 1999 Kelly Cup with the Mississippi Sea Wolves, and in 2012 he was inducted into the ECHL Hall Of Fame. In 2018, Woods was honored as one of the top ten ECHL players of all-time.

HIs playing career ended in 2001 after three years with the Sea Wolves and then he, immediately, assumed the role of Head Coach for the next four seasons and won 40 games in each of the first three and 39 in his fourth. From there, he assumed control of the Hershey Bears and won two Calder Cups.

In 2009 when Bruce Boudreau was named head coach of the Washington Capitals, Woods was also named to the staff that would lead the Caps to the 2010 President’s Cup.

Since then, he’s had stops in Anaheim, Buffalo, and now he enters his third season as an assistant with the Minnesota Wild (a stop in the WHL with as Coach/GM of Saskatoon in between).