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Canora Minor Hockey celebrates successful season back on the ice

President Dwayne Wolkowski paid tribute to players, parents, volunteers, and the membership for their hard work during the past hockey season.

The Canora Minor Hockey Association celebrated the return to hockey action during the recently completed 2021/22 season with its awards banquet on April 23 at the Sylvia Fedoruk Centre.

As outgoing president Dwayne Wolkowski put it, “it was so nice to play games again, especially after losing last year to COVID-19.”

Wolkowski paid tribute to players, parents, volunteers, and the membership for their hard work during the past season.

A new award was presented for the first time, the Jerry Mydonick Memorial Heart and Hustle Award. This award went to the player who was “a great team member, coachable, and always striving to do their best on and off the ice.”

Mydonick passed away in 2022 and was a long-time supporter of minor hockey in Canora. The award will be presented annually to one Canora Minor Hockey volunteer, as well as one player from each team. As has become tradition, individual awards for each team were handed out for: sportsmanship, most dedicated player, and most improved player.

During the past season, the U7 Canora Cobras were coached by Kelly McTavish and Brandi Zavislak, and numerous other volunteers who helped out when needed. This season’s team consisted of 17 players aged 3 to 6. “They’re a great group of kids, the future of hockey in Canora definitely looks bright,” said McTavish.

U7 award winners were: Lowell Rice (most dedicated), Kais Friesen (sportsmanship),

Winston Warren (most improved) and Easton McGregor (Jerry Mydonick award).

Unfortunately, there were not enough players to ice a U9 team during the past season, but Canora Minor Hockey is hopeful that will change in the future.

The U11 Cobras had a successful season under head coach Jeff Sznerch and assistant coaches Kurtis Shukin, Colin Kitchen, and Dwayne Wolkowski.

“Our players were an enjoyable group to work with,” said Sznerch. “They always came to the rink ready to work and have fun. We had a very successful year all-around, including winning the Kamsack tournament. In the playoffs, we won the series against the Yorkton Fun Terriers and then in the next round we beat the Moosomin Blue Rangers to win the E banner.”

For the U11 Cobras, award winners were: Priah Wolkowski (most improved), Cameron Sznerch (most dedicated), Declan Unick (sportsmanship) and Karter Shukin (Jerry Mydonick award).

The U13 Cobras made great strides during the past season under the guidance of head coach Terry Demchuk and assistant coaches Trent Wolkowski, Jess Harper, and Dwayne Wolkowski.

“We had a good team and we learned a lot,” shared Demchuk. “After being near the bottom, we worked up to being ninth out of 16 teams in the league.”

The winners of the awards for the U13 Cobras were: Ryea Harper (most improved), Ty Northrop (most dedicated), Declan Friesen (sportsmanship) and Tessica Mydonick (Jerry Mydonick award).

In the U15 age group, Canora did not have enough players for a team this past season, but neither did Preeceville. So, the two communities combined forces and formed a new team, the U15 Highway 9 Predators, with head coach Jordan Vogel and assistance coaches Jeff Sznerch, Adam Vangen, and Cary Franklin. The team came together fast and ended the season in fine style by winning the A banner in the U15 age group.

“Early on, we got the feeling something special was developing with this team,” said Sznerch. “During our league regular season, we won 14 and tied one out of 15 games. In the first playoff round against Esterhazy we lost the first game, but won game two and the mini-game to move on to the A banner final against Indian Head. We won the first game in their building. We came home for game 2, knew the championship was in our sights and won it at home. I’ve never coached a group of boys so passionate about hockey.”

Award winners for the Predators were: Cody Vangen (most improved), Logan Sznerch (most dedicated), Linden Roebuck (sportsmanship) and Kayden Harder (Jerry Mydonick award).

The 2021/22 season was the first full season for the Prairie Ice, a Canora-based team playing in the Sask Female Hockey League. In addition to Canora, players on the team hailed from: Kamsack, Preeceville, Buchanan, Yorkton, Theodore, Cote First Nation, Pelly and Foam Lake.

The coaching staff included head coach Ryan Hauber and assistant coaches Jesse Nelson and Nicole Korpusik. The team finished third in the Southeast Division standings in the regular season, and then proceed to win six straight playoff games and three straight series. The Ice took the southern championship series to the limit before going down to a 2-1 defeat against the Swift Current Colts, who went on to win the provincial championship.

“What a season!” marvelled Hauber. “Our team is comprised of 14 gals from all over our area, 13 skaters, and one goalie. It’s a team game and we had remarkable improvement from everyone on our team throughout the season, so choosing a most improved player was quite a challenge. Players, thank you for loving the game. Your dedication led us to finish as one of the top four teams in the province.”

Prairie Ice award winners were: Makayla Heshka (most improved), Jessica Madsen (most dedicated), Marlee Sedor (sportsmanship) and Jessee Kopelchuk (Jerry Mydonick award).

The new Jerry Mydonick award for a Canora Minor Hockey volunteer went to Prairie Ice Head Coach Ryan Hauber. Two of his players, Makayla Heshka and Jessee Kopelchuk, presented their thoughts on why Hauber, as well as the rest of the Prairie Ice coaching staff, were deserving of recognition for their efforts during the past season.

“The coaches should be getting awards, not just the players,” said Kopelchuk.

“Our coaches treated us all equal,” added Heshka. “Starting at the first practise they made sure everyone was included and having fun, especially since we are from so many different communities.”

As one season ends, plans begin to take shape for the next season. Dwayne Wolkowski has served the past four years as Canora Minor Hockey President, the maximum allowed under the constitution. A new president will be elected at the fall annual general meeting, and volunteers are needed to run for this important position.

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