Hockey Legends

of Grande Prairie


Female Coach of the Year and Male Coach of the Year

I can’t overstate the value of minor hockey to our community: an activity that relies on the Grande Prairie Minor Hockey Association (GPMHA) to plan and organize opportunities for youth in our community to play our National sport. The benefits of sports in the wholesome development of young people are well known including fitness, teamwork and leadership skills. From what I can see, Grande Prairie’s minor hockey program is exemplary by any standard and could not function without the support of a dedicated army of volunteers recruited and organized by Don Golden, President, Ben Radke, Past President and Lorna LeBlanc, Executive Director. To recognize exemplary service the GPMHA names various events and functions after individuals who have given generously of their time and abilities to make our minor hockey program the strong program it has become.

This year the GPMHA has identified two new award categories Male Coach of the Year named after Ron Andres and Female Coach of the Year category named after Marj McAusland. Needless to say both are worthy of this recognition and the Grande Prairie Legends of Hockey applauds both the creation of the categories and the honour bestowed on Ron Andres and Marj McAusland.

Ron Andres : Four Generations

Reporting on the 1999-2000 hockey season a GPMHA program contains an article, “40 Years Of Growth” in which it is noted that beginning with Abe (Ron’s father) four generations of “Andres” were active as players and coaches since the early days of the Grande Prairie minor hockey program created in 1960 by Roy Peterson. Roy is deservedly recognized as the Father of our minor hockey program.

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Minor Hockey Program Cover

At that time players could sign up for a season of hockey for $1.00 (if they had the money) and if players needed skates and equipment it would be found. The spirit created by Roy is alive and well in our minor hockey program today that strives to make it possible for any young person wanting to play to participate. On special occasions the teams Abe coached played at the old Memorial Arena but mostly at the present location near the old outdoor swimming pool on the Bear Creek Flats outdoor rinks where I (Stan Neufeld) played through the ranks of our minor hockey system almost six decades ago. Abe coached at the Pee Wee and Bantam levels and for a Juvenile team that was the precursor of the Junior Athletics. It is a proud history.

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Ed’s Valve Service Atoms 1985-86
Front row from left, Darcy LaCroix, Darren Gallagher, Randy Rutberg, Michael Miller, Steven Good, Clayton Andres, Miky Steel
Middle row from left: Wyatt Wilson, Mike McGuinness,Trevor Denis, Jeremy Begalke, Shane Fraser, Cory Rutberg
Back from left: Fred McGuinness, coach, Ron Andres, coach, Barry Steel, coach
Photo courtesy of Darcy LaCroix

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Pee Wee AAA Dynamos 1988-89
Front row from left: Travis Wenzlaff, Unknown, Dave Rigler, assistant coach, Ron Andres, coach, Dale Saunders, manager, Mitch Walker.
Middle row from left: Shane Zelko, Rick Wright, Jason Duda, Dallas Kimble, Jerry Harvey, Gerald Chmilar, Clayton Andres, Lance Laboucan, Ryan Chalmers
Back row from left: Chad Bussey, Darcy LaCroix, David Saunders, Kiven Kettyle, Derek Barnsfield, Rocky McAusland
Photo courtesy of Darcy LaCroix

For ten years Ron’s son Clayton played on Rep teams at various levels most notably with the Drifters, a Midget A team sponsored by Tom and Patsy Wachter. After playing with the Drifters he coached the team for several years. Many of Clayton’s friends today stem from relationships forged when he played with the Drifters. Imagine the reminiscing that goes on when they gather. This year Ron’s grandson enrolled in Grande Prairie’s minor hockey program. He represents the fourth generation of the Andre family connection to minor hockey either as players or coaches. His shoulders carry the rich and ever evolving Andre hockey tradition. Perhaps he will become a Legend and who knows how long that family tradition will continue.

As for Ron – he was the centerpiece of the families’ involvement in Grande Prairie minor hockey. He spent countless hours at the rink – much of it with the Drifters.

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Midget A Drifters
Front row from left, Trevor Denis, Daniel Kosolofski, Clayton Andres, Curtis Selke, Rick Wright, Rob Greentree, Brent White.
Middle row from left: Roland LaCroix, manager, Jack Gould, assistant coach, Bryan Noel, Scott Field, Darcy LaCroix, Blair Musselman, Trent Dombrova, Ron Andres,coach
Back row from left: Dalen Diepdael, Jeff Patton, Scott Fletcher, Ernie Meigs, Robin Testawich, Shawn Hutchinson.
Photo courtesy of Darcy LaCroix

Reflecting on his involvement in minor hockey Ron said, “ If I can keep my family and at least one other person off the streets and in an arena, it is all worth it.” Ron started playing hockey in GPMHA program when he was twelve. Games were played on rinks at the bear Creek Flats, the cow barn on the old fairgrounds site and playoffs took place in the Memorial Arena. It is estimated that at least 250 children and youth were fortunate to have Ron as their coach. Attempts to complement Ron on his contributions were consistently deflected to express appreciation to others. After serving on the GPMHA executive for a period of time Ron was looking forward to coaching his grandson, Kristen Gagne. Kristen is a budding goal tender assigned to the McGrath Anchors Novice D team. It is most unfortunate that Ron lost his battle to cancer on June 8, 2017. He will be sorely missed but not forgotten.

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These coach of the year plaques named in honour of Ron Andres have special meaning for Darcy LaCroix.
Photo by Stan Neufeld

Judith Radke: Remembered for Service with a Smile

Another GPHMH honoured for her selfless and untiring commitment to minor hockey is Judith Radke. Following her death in December of 2014 the Judith Radke Memorial Award was established to recognize one female player each year in the Atom, Bantam and Midget Divisions for sportsmanship, ethical behaviour, fair play and integrity. She will be remembered for her untiring, selfless service and the huge smile and buoyant attitude she brought to the arena. It is interesting to note that Cameron McLeod is a player on the Shamrock Pharmacy Atom A Knights coached by Wilson Gemmill. (see below).

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Radke family with award winners
from left: Elyssa Scott, Camryn McLeod, Kirsten Tangen, Ben Radke, Pamela Radke, front, Sarah Radke and Alec Radke
Photo courtesy of GPMH

Marj McAusland: Trail Blazer

In 2007 Marj McAusland was inducted as a Grande Prairie Hockey Legend, the first and so far only woman to attain that distinction.

It is no small feat to pass the rigorous criteria to be honoured as a GP Hockey Legend. Interestingly seven years after Marj’s induction (2014) Marj’s eldest son, Darren joined his Mother as a Legend and following his Mother’s example Darren’s brother coaches hockey in his home community of Grovedale south of Grande Prairie. Important aspects of Marj’s hockey history and achievements in the game are recorded under the Builders category of the web site and Darren’s biography as a player is captured under Stories, “From Ponds to the Pros: Darren McAusland.

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Marj and Darren McAusland at his Induction in 2014. Photo by Stan Neufeld

As noted in these articles, Marj learned to skate on farm dugouts, and played the game when female players were few in number. She went on to organize hockey teams for boys and girls alike, taught skating, coached, was a referee and served on numerous local, regional and Provincial boards and committees to promote the game. Marj stepped up to the plate wherever and whenever she was called upon. In addition to her service as a volunteer Marj’s visibility in hockey circles is a reminder of the often unrecognized but invaluable contributions of “hockey Moms” wherever the game is played. She was named “Community Sports Champion” for the 1995 Winter Games and was a flag bearer during the March of Champions Torch Relay. In September of 2004, Big Country XX acknowledged Marj as “Big Sport of the Month”. Again, in 2004, the Grande Prairie Hockey Association chose Marj as Senior Referee of the Year.” To this list of accomplishments we now add recognition from the GPMHA by naming a Minor Hockey award in her name. Marg McAusland passed away on January 8, 2017.

2018 Award Ceremonies

Many years ago as noted earlier I was among the first group of kids to benefit from a program that continues to evolve and provide valuable service to children and youth in our community. This year I had the good fortune to attend one of the GPMHA Award ceremonies conducted to honour volunteers in the minor hockey program. As I reflect on this experience it seems to me that congratulations are appropriate on a number of fronts. First, I applaud the GPMHA for the careful attention it pays to honour its volunteers. Second, I applaud the very special volunteers after whom events are named, in this case Marj McAusland Ron Andres and third, I pay tribute to the individuals who are selected annually to receive these awards.

Character profiles and specific information concerning the nature of volunteers who serve in the GPMHA – the sacrifices they make and how they contribute to children and youth in our community is provided below focusing on Wilson Gemmill.

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Coach of the year
From left: D.J.Golden, GPMHA President, Lorna LeBlanc, GPMH Executive Director, Wilson Gemmill, Ben Radke, GPMHA Past President

Wilson Gemmill: Coaching Women’s Hockey

Wilson Gemmill is the first recipient of the GPMHA award for the Female Division of Hockey Coach of the Year named after GP Hockey Legend Marj McAusland. Advocating for Gemmill as a candidate for the award winner his nominator wrote,

“Coach Wilson is the most positive, fun and dedicated coach I’ve ever met. His love of hockey and positive energy made every practice and game a great one. His passion for the game and the development of the girls is evident in every interaction he has with them on and off the ice. He volunteers countless hours planning and running practices, events and anything else that increases their enjoyment in the sport. Even during our greatest losses Coach Wilson Gemmill had all our Atom girls going home with encouraging words and smiles on their faces. Wilson’s involvement has greatly increased the requirement and retention of female players and he has played a huge role in the fact we will now have three full female atom teams next season.”

When I tracked down Gemmill to obtain his reaction to the award announcement Wilson was in Calgary with his team participating in a female spring hockey tournament. It is worth noting that the spouses and other family members of hockey coaches make enormous sacrifices for coaches to perform their duties - time on the ice - time away from home, time on the phone and in other ways time to communicate with players, parents and others in the organization. They often contribute out-of-pocket expenses related to travel and other events. It is a huge commitment and a commitment that Wilson takes very seriously. When I eventually caught up with Wilson to speak with him Wilson’s reaction captured the essential values of minor hockey programs.

“ Hockey in the Peace Country has meant so much to me and my Family. It’s been the best experience for both myself and kids to teach the value of community spirit, representation, team unity, comeradery, support, friendship, discipline and focus - all the while getting exercise. I can tell you there is only one sport activity I love more then playing hockey. It’s coaching youth hockey.”

As I write this article I am reminded of the swift passage of time. Wilson was a Physical Education 30 student in my class when I taught at the Composite High School in 1986. It was clear to me then that Wilson had the potential to make a career in hockey if that were his choice. He excelled as a player through the minor hockey categories in Grande Prairie and was Captain of his Pee Wee team when they competed for the Alberta Pee Wee championship in 1980/81.

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Pee Wee B team 1979-80
Front row from left, David Durrant, Clay Russell, Danny O’Connell, Reid Rodacker, Nolan McCullough, Wilson Gemmill, Mike Trepanier
Middle row from left: Brad Willsey, Lee McLandress, Jason Kramer, Stewart Charchuck, Barry Mcericher, Mike Wilson,Todd Kramer, Michael Eagar
Back row from left: Unknown , Jack Durrant, coach, Rick Eagar, Coach
Photo courtesy Wilson Gemmill

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Alberta Pee Wee A champions 1980-81
Front row from left, Brian Arcand, Lee McLandress, Ian Young, Jamie Walker, Lee Wiebe
Middle Row from left: Bruce Walker, coach, Bruce Shopik, Jason Cunningham, Glenn Penner, Brad Willsey, Jason Kramer, Derek Borgford, Lloyd Borgford, coach, Bill McLandress, coach
Back row from left : Gord Chrenek, Clay Russell, Wilson Gemmill, Greg Taylor, Kelly McConnell
Photo courtesy Wilson Gemmill

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Bantam Elks 1981-82
Front row from left, Dwayne Richards, Jimmy Morrison, Colin Clements, Eldon Coney, Dennis Kellner, Rob Jamieson, Lee Wiebe
Back from left: Murray Bird, coach, Lee McLandress, Chad Krause, Clay Russell, Wilson Gemmill, Darren Krause, Greg Taylor, Gord Chrenek, Marv Bird, coach
Photo courtesy Wilson Gemmill

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Bantam Elks 1982-83
Front row from left: Lee Wiebe, Morgan Hall, Glenn Penner, Heath Macdonald, Wilson Gemmill, Gord Chrenek, Darren Krause, Norman Boulet, Brian Arcand.
Back row from left, Lee McLandress, Lorne Radbourne, coach, Kelly Mahon, Jamie Walker, Clay Russell, Steve Webster, Jimmy Morrison, Bruce Shopik, Darren Gouchie, Ian Young, Marv Bird, coach.
Photo courtesy Wilson Gemmill

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Midget Knights 1983-84
Front row from left, Lee Wiebe, Clay Russell, Gord Chrenek, Colin Clements, Wilson Gemmill, Glenn Penner, Derek Maple
Back row from left: Blake Gemmill, manager, Rudy Maxwell, Eldon Coney, Steve Webster, Jimmy Morrison, Dwayne Skaley, Chad Hauser, Morgan Hall, Kelly Mahon, Len Strynadka, coach
Photo courtesy Wilson Gemmill

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Midget Knights 1984-85
Front row from left: Lee Wiebe, Norman Boulet, Unknown, Gord Chrenek, Rudy Maxwell, Wilson Gemmill, Glenn Penner, Ira Laughy, Dean Kinch
Back row form left: Blake Gemmill, manager , Bruce Shopik, Unknown, Unknown, Chad Hauser, Jimmy Morrison, Steve Webster, Milton Antipowich, Tim Toews, Unknown
Photo courtesy Wilson Gemmill

As a Junior he played a number of games with the GP North Stars and received letters of invitation to try out for several, teams in the BCHL (Fort Mac Oil Barons, Sherwood Park Crusaders, Salmon Arm & Penticton). In 1988/89 he played with the Grande Prairie Athletics and upon enrolling as a student at U of A was tempted to try out and play for the U of A Golden Bears.

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Grande Prairie Athletics 1987-88
Front row from left: Ron Green, coach, Unknown, Weldon Wilson, Grant Menzies, Chuck Bretton, Dave Reid, Ken Head, coach
Middle Row (L-R) Jim Patterson, manager, Dean Mckim, Rick Patterson, Kelly Boyd,Bob Kalb, Ray Savage, Rod Arabsky
Back row from left: Wilson Gemmill, Keith Sauverwald, Brian Schall, Bob Leslie, Garry Schall, Ron Deley
Photo courtesy Wilson Gemmill

For many young people the glamour of playing hockey professionally is too tempting to pass up any chance of making it to the “big time” and any one of these opportunities to play hockey might well have led Wilson directly into a hockey career. Wilson loves the game of hockey but when it threatened to interfere with his academic goals to become a Doctor or Pharmacist he chose the latter. His decisions were fortunate not only for the medical/pharmaceutical professions in Grande Prairie but also for hockey. From his perspective today he made a choice that has enabled him to participate in both the sport he loves and his chosen profession. In 1993 Wilson graduated from U of A with a B.Sc. in Pharmacy and returned to Grande Prairie. For 15 years he played hockey in Grande Prairie’s Industrial League and from 2010 to the present gets his “hockey fix” as a player in the 35+ League. However, as noted above his passion is coaching.

Congratulation Wilson – you are a shining example of citizenship at its best and a lesson for all of us about hockey i.e. what it should mean to those who participate in the game at any level. We salute you as the inaugural recipient of the Marj McAusland Coach of the Year of Women’s Hockey.

I was in attendance at just one of two events that were devoted to honouring this year’s award winners. Following are pictures of all award winners, a description of the award categories and individuals after whom the awards are named. Multipy the impact of Wilson Gemmill on our community by 1,182 (here were the number of players in 2017/2018) and one has an indication of the impact that the GPMHA has on our community and its all because of Wilson and the army of volunteers he represents. We salute you – one and all.

Matteo Hrehoruk: Most Sportsmanlike Atom Recreation : Kenny Morrow since 1983- 1984
Davis Glenn: Best Defenceman Atom A: Tim Boivin since 1995 – 1996:
Dustin Rehbein: All Round Best Player Atom B: Larry Kutschinski since 1990 – 1991
Koen Fisher: Atom Competitive Hockey School: Lloyd Head since 1977
Parker Kilba: Sportsmanship & Dedication PeeWee A: George Repka Jr. since 1978 – 1979
Jaydon Gordey: Most Valuable Player Bantam AA: Derek Boyd since 1987 - 1988
Ethan Aebly: Best Defenceman Bantam AA: Bobby Sands since 1974 - 1975
Devan Klassen: Best Defenceman Midget AAA: Pete Wright since 1990 – 1991
Camryn McLeod, Elyssa Scott, Kirsten Tangen: Ethical, Fair Play, Integrity, Award Female Division: Judith Radke since 2014 – 2015
Dylan Francis: Junior Ref of the Year
Kevin Boutilier: Senior Ref of the Year
Nic Duncan: Trainer of the Year
Monique Cissell: Manager of the Year
Tony Jacobsen: Doug Edey Initiation Most Sportsmanlike Coach
Niki Wallace: President’s Award

Ron Andres Coach of the Year Recipients:

Matt Buchanan, Nor-Lan Chrysler Novice: Introduction to Hockey Coach of the year.
Chris Millsap, GP Pembina Pipeline Corp Pee Wees: Recreation Division Coach of the year.
Mike Murray, Fountain Tire Bantam C Knights: Development Coach of the year.

Marg McAusland Coach of the Year:

Wilson Gemmill, Shamrock Pharmacy Atom A Knights: Female Division.

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Group Award winners

NOTE: We will be grateful for assistance from any of our readers to correct spellings or add missing information.

Stan Neufeld
Grande Prairie Legends of Hockey

Grande Prairie Hockey Legends is researched, written and presented by Stan and Ron Neufeld