Our love for hockey lies in the hearts of volunteers from coast to coast to coast, looking to share their passion with all Canadians.
Thank you to the hundreds of thousands who give their time to our game, and congratulations to those recognized as national award winners this year.
To find out more about some of our amazing volunteers go to the Hockey Canada Volunteer Corner.
Volunteer of the Year – John Neville
A distinguished coach turned board member, John Neville’s contributions to the game have been – and continue to be – a great asset to the Greater Toronto Hockey League (GTHL), the Ontario Hockey Federation (OHF) and Hockey Canada.
John was behind the bench for close to four decades coaching all levels, from house league right up to university. During his lengthy coaching career, he was also part of the Hockey Canad Program of Excellence, was named coach of the year in the Nova Scotia Major Midget Hockey League and Maritime Junior A Hockey League, and coached Canada’s entry at the Tretiak Cup three times, medalling in each appearance.
But his move from Nova Scotia to Ontario also moved John from the bench to the board room, as he started taking on various roles for the GTHL, including third vice-president and chair of the GTHL Summit Committee and Hockey Development Committee. At the Member level, John was instrumental to the OHF as chair of the Governance Committee, bringing about the move to an independent OHF Board of Directors. He remains involved with the OHF as the chair of the Nominations Committee.
Regardless of his role or where he is in the country, John Neville has been a staunch supporter of the game.
Gordon Juckes Award – Bob Braybrook
Having worked in education for three decades and as a hockey coach for four, Bob Braybrook has committed much of his own life to improving the lives of children.
His incredible dedication to the development of minor hockey began back in 1981 in Saskatchewan when he started as a coach. Within five years he had become a National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP) course facilitator for the Saskatchewan Hockey Association (SHA). Bob’s interest in educating coaches continued with roles as master facilitator and master coach developer, and in 2000 he became a master mentor, offering support in developing the SHA Mentorship Program. His extensive experience behind the bench and in the classroom was a huge benefit as he started taking on the task of writing and designing coaching courses in the mid-2010s.
While continuing with his minor hockey coaching responsibilities, Bob also took on the Program of Excellence and worked with Team Saskatchewan at the 1998 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge and 1999 Canada Winter Games, and he was a representative for Hockey Canada at the IIHF Youth Development Camp in the Czech Republic in 1999.
As a dedicated educator, Bob Braybrook has made it his mission to ensure young Canadians are given every opportunity to succeed on and off the ice.
Female Breakthrough Award – Danièle Sauvageau
It remains one of the most iconic moments in Canadian hockey history – the nail-biting gold medal game victory for Canada’s National Women’s Team at the 2002 Olympic Winter Games. At the helm for the country’s first-ever women’s hockey gold? Danièle Sauvageau.
Danièle’s coaching journey with Team Canada started in 1997 as an assistant coach, capturing the gold at her first IIHF World Women’s Championship, and she added silver when women’s hockey debuted at the 1998 Olympics. With her belief that a team is only as strong as its will to win, Danièle was promoted to head coach in 1998-99, winning world titles in 1999 and 2001 before that historic golden moment in Salt Lake City.
Away from the national program, Danièle became the first woman to coach in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League when she served as an assistant for the Montreal Rocket in the 1999-00 season. In 2008, the University of Montreal turned to Danièle to establish a women’s hockey program, and since 2019 she has played a leading role in Centre 21.02, the first high-performance hub for women’s hockey in Quebec.
Whether she is behind the bench or in the boardroom, Danièle Sauvageau remains one of the most influential contributors to the women’s game.
Isobel Gathorne-Hardy Award – Marie-Philip Poulin
As a world champion, two-time Olympic gold medallist and Team Canada captain, Marie-Philip Poulin exudes leadership on the ice, but her actions away from the rink may actually be her greatest contribution to the game.
Marie-Philip is an incredible advocate for women’s hockey. As a member of the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association, she has participated in the Dream Gap Tour and appeared at the 2020 NHL All-Star Game. In that same year, her likeness was used for a hockey-playing Barbie doll, sold by Tim Hortons, to help promote equality. It echoed Marie-Philips long standing belief, “If you can see it, you can be it.”
In another act toward equality in the game, Marie-Philip became an ambassador for the Hockey Canada Foundation Assist Fund. With the COVID-19 pandemic taking hold in 2020, Marie-Philip wanted to support and help promote the Assist Fund as it was designed to help families keep their kids on the ice by providing subsidies for registration costs.
Not one to seek the spotlight but gracious when she’s in it, Marie-Philip Poulin has been a beacon of hope for girls in hockey and is one of the greatest role models playing the game today.
Officiating Award – George McCorry
Over the last 55 years, one name has become synonymous with officiating in Alberta – George McCorry.
Donning the black and white for the first time at 12 years old, George achieved the top level of refereeing certification, Level VI, by the time he was 30. He took on national and international assignments for Hockey Canada, including three national university championship appearances and a role in the 1992 Olympic Winter Games in Albertville, France. Two years later, George refereed 10 games in the NHL.
While the list of on-ice accomplishments is lengthy, his continued work developing officials may be more meaningful to the long-term success of the game. For over 25 years, George has been an instructor for the National Referee Certification Program, and he’s been supervising officials in Alberta for 38 years. He has served as referee-in-chief with Hockey Alberta and as chair of the Hockey Alberta Referees’ Council. Since 1999, George has been the vice-president and supervisor of officials for the Alberta Junior Hockey League.
On and off the ice, George McCorry has been keeping the game in check and teaching the next generation of officials how to do the same.
Order of Merit (Atlantic) – Ray Carmichael
Being a hockey parent is a gift to the game all in itself, but Ray Carmichael’s dedication has extended beyond those first few years to over three decades of service to hockey in New Brunswick.
A true believer in grassroots hockey, Ray was a director with the Northern Carleton Minor Hockey Association from 1983-91. The following year, he started his involvement with Hockey New Brunswick as the District 2 director for Minor Council. Taking on the responsibilities as chair and sitting on various committees filled Ray’s time until 2012, when he was elected Member president, a role he held until 2018.
As part of his responsibilities, Ray served on the Hockey Canada Board of Directors from 2012-14 and helped usher in the governance change for the national organization in 2014.
Through all his work, Ray has been committed to ensuring the best experience for all participants. He is a stout advocate for proper training of all volunteers – coaches, officials and administrators. This supported his belief that volunteers are the greatest asset in growing the game within traditional hockey families, First Nations and new Canadians.
Through his continual work to grow the game, Ray Carmichael is laying the groundwork for today’s hockey parent to be tomorrow’s volunteer.
Order of Merit (Central) – Ed Pupich
As an administrator, few people can claim the same level of impact on the game as Ed Pupich. For over 25 years, Ed has had a leadership role in hockey with the Northern Ontario Hockey Association (NOHA), the Ontario Hockey Federation (OHF) and Hockey Canada.
A life-long resident of Schumacher, Ontario, Ed started contributing to the game as a coach in 1965, even appearing at the 1969 all-Ontario Juvenile championship with the Schumacher Bears. When his coaching days came to a close, Ed found another way to give back.
Holding a variety of board positions with the NOHA, including president from 1994-97, he then served as president for the OHF from 2001-05, which included a seat on the Hockey Canada board. In 2007, Ed was elected vice-chair at large and served in that position until 2014, at which time a new constitution was brought in at Hockey Canada. He continued to serve as a director until 2020.
Ed sat on every council with Hockey Canada and all major committees. He acted as a Hockey Canada representative at International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) events and national championships.
From a small town in Northern Ontario, Ed Pupich has made a big mark on hockey in this country.
Order of Merit (Western) – Brian Franklin
It may come as no surprise that someone who served his home community of Deloraine, Manitoba, for over a decade as mayor would also volunteer for his hockey community at the same time. But what is truly remarkable about Brian Franklin’s commitment to the game, is its longevity – 50 years and counting.
An instrumental force in establishing the provincial Midget AAA league in 1985, Brian was involved with the league and development of top-level U18 players until 1996. Even before the creation of the league, however, Brian was involved with Hockey Manitoba, serving as a board member from 1982 until 2020. From 2007-12, he was Member president and served on the Hockey Canada Board of Directors.
Brian’s work in the education system, especially as a principal, gave him the tools to lead with confidence and inspire others to exceed their own expectations. He continues to serve Hockey Manitoba as a mentor and remains committed to the value of volunteers at all levels of the game.
As a volunteer himself for over five decades, Brian Franklin’s unwavering support for the game has only bettered hockey for those in Deloraine and across Manitoba.
Hal Lewis Award (Member) – Kathy MacKenzie
For nearly two decades, Kathy MacKenzie’s dedication has helped the game thrive in Hockey Northwestern Ontario.
The face of the organization, Kathy serves as the office administrator and in membership services, working with volunteers from all aspects of the game. As part of a small (but mighty) three-person staff, Kathy is willing to take on any task to make the hockey experience a fulfilling one. She may be the friendly voice on the other end of the phone, assisting local hockey associations with player registrations, getting teams on the ice with travel permits, taking notes at board meetings or getting her hands dirty at the rink.
Kathy is an eager volunteer for her own North End Minor Hockey Association, having served as a timekeeper for over 20 years, while also taking on duties as president, vice-president, team manager, trainer, assistant coach and banquet coordinator, and she currently serves as the past president. Always the first to work late if needed, Kathy ensures administrative details are taken care of so every player can get on the ice when they’re ready.
Through her own volunteering and work ethic, Kathy MacKenzie demonstrates the importance of keeping the game running smoothly.
Hal Lewis Award (Hockey Canada) – Denise Pattyn
While the staff of Hockey Canada are working to ensure hockey will be ready for a safe return following the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, Denise Pattyn is guiding the staff itself through its own challenges.
For six years, Denise has been the director of human resources, helping shape the culture of Hockey Canada through her positive outlook in any situation. Her commitment, passion and respect for the organization as well as the game it represents is unmatched. Throughout the last year, Denise has also been a great support for Hockey Canada’s 13 Members, reaffirming Hockey Canada’s commitment to all participants at all levels.
From an avid hockey family herself, Denise is respected for her transparency and ability to navigate through any situation. She is known for listening to all opinions and fully evaluating all options before her in advance of making any decision. Prioritizing the best interest of the Hockey Canada employees and organization is her top priority.
Denise Pattyn leads by example and remains calm in all situations, a much-needed leadership quality over the last year as Hockey Canada – and the world – navigated the unknown.