The Kootenay International Junior Hockey League is proud to announce a group of four new league awards that will recognize off-ice accomplishments and contributions. The inaugural class of award winners has been selected for the 2021-22 season in the following categories: Community Player of the Year, Volunteer of the Year, Broadcaster of the Year and Scholastic Player of the Year. And the winners are…
COMMUNITY PLAYER OF THE YEAR: MASON MOWAT (PRINCETON POSSE): Mowat provided outstanding support to the community of Princeton during and after severe flooding that impacted the area in November. Mowat and his teammates worked countless hours sandbagging, including a period of nearly 24 hours straight at the onset of the flooding, and helped residents recover any way they could. He sacrificed his immediate hockey goals to help the community in a time of need, which included working with the local food bank and donation centers to feed flood victims and move donations, water and furniture.
“Mason was always the first to show up and last to leave any volunteer task he took part in,” said Posse General Manager Mark McNaughton. “We received phone calls requesting him specifically all the time. After the flood, he took shifts weekly to support renovations in affected homes and continued support for any heavy lifting needed at donation centers.”
SCHOLASTIC PLAYER: MASON OUCHI (SUMMERLAND STEAM): A soon-to-be-graduate of George Elliot Secondary in Lake Country this June, Ouchi is currently maintaining a 92 per cent average across a challenging Grade 12 academic workload and was a straight-A student in Grade 11 with a 94 per cent average over seven courses. He was previously named to the Canadian Sport School Hockey League’s All-Academic team following the 2018/19 season.
“Mason is an excellent student and puts full effort into his schoolwork,” said Steam Head Coach and GM Mark MacMillan, adding that Ouchi lives an hour away from the Summerland Arena but always made it to practice on time. “In meetings with Mason this year, he informed me he plans to be a surgeon, and it’s easy to see him succeeding in that. He is dedicated and meticulous in his approach to both school and hockey.”
VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR: NEIL RYE (KIMBERLEY DYNAMITERS): A long-time Dynamiters volunteer, Rye does it all to have his team ready when they hit the ice. He takes care of the team’s laundry, hangs jerseys, packs important supplies, helps unload the bus on arrival and return from road games, and even takes care of the puck toss during the second intermission. He also fills the players’ water bottles every practice and game, brings game pucks to officials, makes ice bags for the players before every practice, home and away games and more.
“Neil is so important to the rhythm of our day-to-day routine that he is not just welcome on road trips; he is needed,” said Dynamiters Head Coach and GM Derek Stuart. “He is at the rink at least 16 hours a week, 24 hours if we play two home games in a week. The rare time Neil is away it takes all the coaches, trainers and even some players to do all the tasks he does by himself.”
BROADCASTER OF THE YEAR: KEVIN MCKINNON (GRAND FORKS BORDER BRUINS): McKinnon headed the Border Bruins broadcast crew to create the best product in the KIJHL on HockeyTV. In addition to his play-by-play responsibilities, he has created graphics and set up instant replay to give KIJHL fans a great visual experience, while providing commentary that is always fair and balanced towards both teams.
The Border Bruins’ broadcast also includes highlights following each game with McKinnon providing his insight on the best and most important plays. He also took advantage of a behind-goal camera video to provide a different perspective on the game. He has also offered his knowledge and expertise to other KIJHL organizations so their broadcast crews could provide the best broadcast to their fans.