Elk Point Minor Hockey’s first windup banquet since 2019 packed the Elk Point Allied Arts with Avalanche players and their families on Friday evening, with MC Brian Poitras opening the awards ceremony with recollections of his own first goal back in 1989 as a Micro Novice, the equivalent of today’s U 7 team. He still recalled the hug he got from teammate Curtis Croteau, “who still hugs me every time he sees me. Hockey is not just a game to me.”
Today’s U 7 team was first to take the stage, with manager Brandi Krankowsky praising coach Devin Moneta and his assistants, Daniel Brousseau and Jeffrey Oracheski for “teaching them the game of hockey… and how to keep focused.” She announced award winners Best Defender - Jaxtyn Krankowsky, High Energy - Gavin Brousseau, Lover of the Game - Lynden Oracheski, 100 Per Cent Effort - Lawson Moneta, Outstanding - Aiden Barstad, and three players who will be moving up to the next age group next year, Gatekeeper - Kenzie Leathem, Catch Me If You Can - Landon St. Arnault and In It To Win It - Cohen Brousseau.
Aaron Aarbo was next with the U 9 team and said this was his first time at a minor hockey banquet. He was “really proud of our little team. Hockey brings so many of us together and I appreciate all of the memories.” It is his fourth year of coaching, but two of those were interrupted by the pandemic, he noted, and this year “I realized how much work goes on behind the scenes” to keep minor hockey going. He listed Thomas Morris, Aspyn Kelly, Stetson Reynolds, Grayson Koppang, Jaydn Sakowsky, Charlie Davis, Jase Malo, Tor Aarbo, Lee Barstad, Ben Saddleback and Jay Large as the members of this year’s team, with Courtney Kelly as manager and Jeff Koppang, Matt Kelly and Darrel Malo as assistant coaches. Special thanks went o Fennell Anderson and the skating club, with power skating “so important to minor hockey, five of our team were in that and the progress was huge. It all comes down to the hours on the ice.” He also added thanks to Doug Bassett, “a fixture in minor hockey.”
Head coach Chris Melnyk said the U 11 team had “an unfortunate start to the year with only eight players, but by the start of the season, we had 13, five of them new to Elk Point Minor Hockey.” The newcomers included Hudson ‘the Bull’ Brousseau, Kendall Morin, Liam Dumont and September and Derrace Kitchemokaman, the last two new arrivals from Ontario. Along with William Ballas, Jaxon Marcoux, Thomas Melnyk, Theo Loughran-Quinney, Ryder Malo, Ava Rawlake, Hudson Krankowsky and Lennox St. Arnault, they “took some time to mesh as a team. Six games were decided by one goal… and the season came to an end in double overtime. They never gave up, regardless of the score.”
Jeff Morgan’s U 13 team, managed by Hope St. George and Lori Kadutski, and coached with the help of Shane Smith, Todd Rawlake and John Grykuliak, includes Boe St. George, Brendan Kadutski, Jackson Rawlake, Jaxon Smith, Kale Ockerman, Liam Swedgan, Remington Reynolds, Trace Morgan, Tristan Brousseau, Kestyn Quinney, Wyatt Fontaine and Owen Grykuliak, who was declared the league’s best goalie. Morgan was happy to report the team finished the year with 17 wins one loss and three ties, and “didn’t lose a home game all season.” In the playoffs, they defeated Dewberry/Marwayne and swept the Lac La Biche Clippers to go to Provincials, ending up in a three-way tie that went down to the points count. “We lost, but we were still happy withy our season.”
The U 13s were kept on stage for the presentation of a very special award, the Alex Kurash Memorial trophy, now in its 30th year after Peewee coach Alex Kurash passed away in 1992. The award was not presented last year, due to the season being curtailed by COVID, so Doug Bassett, after listing the criteria for the award’s recipients, presented the 2021 trophy to Brendan Kadutski and this year’s trophy to Tristan Brousseau.
Then it was time for Conrad Pierce and the U 15 Avalanche, who Pierce asked to introduce themselves and answer some quite hilarious questions. That team is managed by Jackie Penz and also has Jeff Patterson, Jacques deMoissac, Jon Kadutski and Tim Smereka in the coaching lineup for players Alex Patterson, Kaysen deMoissac, Evett Smereka, Raif Evans-Anderson, Madden Flamand, Clayton Toews, Logan Swedgan, Trayden Gadwa, Tray Thomas-Calliou, Cole Pierce, Brendon Haesch, Gunner Crawford, Gavin Kadutski, Bo Fontaine and Kaleb Flamand.
Last to take the stage were Darren Morton and the U 18, who Morton said, “battled hard this year, faced the top teams and halfway through the season, found they could beat the best teams. It took us a long way.” The team is made up of Trent Chartrand, Seth Morton, Everett Deschamps, Kade Fontaine, Owen Fontaine, Sam Rogal, Logan Lemay, Nic Penner, Josef Theriault, Timmy John, Jager Fontaine, Wyatt Pavoll, Dean Ockerman, Jordy Feland, Ceajay Quinney and Brady Hymanyk. Morton shared the coaching duties with Shaun Pavoll and Robyn Moroziuk, and the team was managed by Melissa Rogal.
Brian Poitras, who prefaced each team’s appearance with a story from his own hockey experiences over the years, wound up the evening with a long list of thanks for the A. G. Ross Arena and Ag Society executive, as well as the many, many volunteers who have helped him keep the facility and its ice in top condition throughout the first full hockey season in three years.