(ISN) – Calgary, AB – WHL Commissioner Ron Robison announced today, on behalf of the WHL Board of Governors, that Ralph Zander has been named a recipient of the WHL Distinguished Service Award for the 2014-15 season.
Zander was honoured by WHL Commissioner Ron Robison in Calgary this afternoon in a special ceremony prior to the Calgary Hitmen game against the Kootenay ICE.
Zander has been with the Hitmen since the Club arrived in Calgary in advance of the 1995-96 WHL season when he, his wife and daughter helped sell tickets for the franchise’s inaugural season. For the past 20 years, Ralph has served as an off-ice official for the Hitmen, performing various assignments including scorekeeping and collecting statistical records. Throughout the years with the Club, Zander has missed just two games due to hospitalization – for which he still completed the statistics.
Zander and his wife, Karen, have also played host to over 25 Hitmen players as a billet family with the Club the past 20 years. The Zanders have housed many Hitmen Alumni such as Alex Fomichev and Kris Deines, many of whom they remain close with to this day, and most recently Travis and Taylor Sanheim.
“Ralph Zander has been a fixture not only as an off-ice official in Calgary, but also as a billet family with his wife, Karen, since the Hitmen franchise joined the WHL in 1995-96,” commented WHL Commissioner Ron Robison. “Given his remarkable dedication and commitment to the Calgary Hitmen and the Western Hockey League over the past 20 years, it is only fitting he receive the WHL Distinguished Service Award.”
“On behalf of the entire Calgary Hitmen organization, we would like to congratulate Ralph on receiving this tremendous honour,” said Hitmen President of Hockey Operations and Alternate Governor Kelly Kisio. “To be involved with an organization for 20 years is a true reflection of Ralph’s generosity, commitment and passion for junior hockey. Ralph and his wife, Karen, have been invaluable members of the Hitmen family and we are especially honoured to recognize their long-term support with this notable award.”
The WHL Distinguished Service Award, which was introduced by the WHL in 2004, is presented annually to individuals who have worked tirelessly behind the scenes on behalf of franchises and in doing so have made an extraordinary contribution at the Club or League level over an extended period of time.
Previous recipients of the WHL Distinguished Service Award:
Terry Bonner (Vancouver Giants – Scouting Director); Dr. Mary Smith (Spokane Chiefs – Team Dentist); Dennis Coates (Kamloops Blazers – Volunteer Board Member); Judy Seher (Red Deer Rebels – Billet Coordinator); Balzer, Frank, Tony & John Lanz (Medicine Hat Tigers – Off-Ice Officials); Rose Mary Hartney (Moose Jaw Warriors – Education Advisor); Greg ‘Spike’ Wallace (Kamloops Blazers – Community & Sponsorship Coordinator); Nella Rounsville (Kootenay Ice – Education Advisor); Lorne Frey (Kelowna Rockets – Asst GM/Head Scout); Graham Tuer (Saskatchewan Hockey Association – Volunteer); Jann Boss (Portland Winterhawks – Administration); Ruth “Grams” Pollock (Prince Albert Raiders – Billet Coordinator); Dr. Ian Hill (Regina Pats – Team Doctor); Dr. Alfred Blue (Seattle Thunderbirds – Team Doctor); Doris Rubel (Kamloops Blazers – Billet Coordinator); Colleen MacBean (Swift Current Broncos – Education Advisor); and Bob Ridley (Medicine Hat Tigers – Play-By-Play Announcer).