The Kerry Park Minor Hockey Association bounced back from the COVID-19 pandemic in fine form this past season, marking several individual and team successes, and capping it all off with BC Hockey’s Frank Spring Award as Minor Hockey Association of the Year.
It is only the third time since the prestigious award’s inception in the early 1980s that the award has gone to an association on Vancouver Island, and the first time since Sooke received the honour in 1996.
It was “quite a surprise,” said KPMHA president Shane Kendall, who accepted the award at BC Hockey’s annual general meeting last weekend.
He credited the entire organization for its hard work over the past season, as well as past members who laid the groundwork for the association’s success.
“We have a great team of people from the executive to the coaches and team officials to parents, and most importantly the kids,” Kendall said. “You put all that together and it makes for a great team.”
The Frank Spring Award is “awarded annually to the minor hockey association judged to have made an outstanding contribution to its community by providing a properly organized program where a youngster can learn the basic skills and the fundamentals of good hockey.”
Despite being one of the smaller associations on Vancouver Island, the KPMHA made a significant impact on and off the ice over the 2021-22 season. Last fall, Kerry Park ran the Bauer First Shift program, helping 30 brand new hockey players — the maximum number for an association of its size — receive equipment and take the ice for six separate sessions. Participation was not limited to players in the KPMHA catchment area, with players from across the Cowichan Valley allowed to take part.
The association amassed several Vancouver Island Amateur Hockey Association banners this season as well, winning the U11 C South Island League, U11 D Div. 2 League, U13 C South Island Pool B Playoffs, U13 A South Island Pool B Playoffs, U13 A Div. 3 League, and U18 South Island Pool B League titles.
There were also several individual honours as U11 D coach Darren Van Oene was named VIAHA Coach of the Year, Rory Sinden received the BC Hockey Vancouver Island $1,000 District Scholarship and Colton Steigenberger was awarded the VIAHA South Island Scholarship.
“For a small association the accomplishments this season were huge,” KPMHA website and social media manager Marsha McMurchy commented.
For the executive, though, the honours aren’t the motivation.
“Doing what we do is not about getting awards or accolades or anything like that,” Kendall said. “It’s all about getting the kids on the ice and giving all kids the opportunity to play hockey. That’s the goal of all this.”