Hockey Legends

of Grande Prairie


Remembering George Repka Jr.

Role Models From Yesterday & Today - Leaders For Tomorrow

I was privileged to attend this year’s minor hockey awards ceremony and I must say – it triggered a wave of nostalgia as I recalled learning to skate on a backyard rink with George Jr. and later our adventures in minor hockey. The story of Two Rinks on the Bear Creek Flats is central to my experience and shared by George Repka Jr. The Two Rinks story is recounted elsewhere on our Website but deserves repetition here. Legends associated with that story include Roy Peterson, Roy Borstad and others too numerous to mention. When Roy Peterson ran the program we signed up on his back porch for a fee of $1.00 - if we had the money. If not – sign up just the same - participation was free and if interested kids had no skates or the necessary equipment to play it was also provided. It was made known that anyone who wanted to play hockey could do so. George Jr. and I were among the many kids that responded to Roy’s invitation. We signed up and eagerly waited to see what teams we would play for, what jerseys we would wear and who would be our teammates.

In the generations prior to my experience hockey was associated with lakes, ponds and patches of ice on school and neighbourhood playgrounds. When the volunteer Fire Dept. was organized volunteer firemen would tour the town and flood the neighbourhood rinks. Maintenance such as repairing the boards and cleaning the ice following a snowstorm was provided by adults and kids in the neighbourhood. My older brothers spoke of Saturday morning hockey organized by the rink manager Johnny Macdonald in the old Wapiti Arena and later in the Memorial Arena. All activities: organizing, coaching and officiating were conducted by volunteers. Family members often shared skates and other hockey equipment that consisted of “hand-me-downs” from parents or older siblings. Attempts were made to balance talent levels of teams. It seems to me there is value in children with varying ability learning to play together. This was the foundation for our current minor hockey program – a program that deserves our full support. Exercise and fitness is an important benefit but beyond that, with strong leadership our children and youth learn skills associated with the game but more importantly the learning of discipline, teamwork, and sportsmanship.

From my perspective 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.

 2018 – 2019  MEMORIAL AWARDS

Ben Radke, left, Lorna LeBlanc and Don Golden. Photo by Stan Neufeld

As we reflect on the story of George Repka Jr. it is fitting to remind our readers of the Repka family legacy in Grande Prairie. It harks back to 1942 when George Repka Sr. relocated from Southern Alberta to the Peace River country.

George Daryle Repka (1950-1978)

 2018 – 2019  MEMORIAL AWARDS

George Repka Jr. Stan Neufeld hockey collection

It all began for George Repka Jr. in the 1950s with memories of learning to skate on the family’s backyard rink a few blocks north of downtown Grande Prairie. George and I (Stan Neufeld) were contemporaries and lived nearby. I recall skating with George on their outdoor rink. I was always welcome. We graduated from the backyard rink and were among the first group of players to benefit from the formation of the Grande Prairie Minor Hockey Association. George and I competed against each other as Mites in 1960 during the inaugural Minor Hockey League season. I was a Flyer coached by Legend Roy Borstad and he was a Comet coached by Herb Gitzel. He played through all of the minor hockey categories in Grande Prairie, including the Midget Knights and Junior Athletics. His ability and desire gained him all-star recognition in the South Peace Hockey League.

 2018 – 2019  MEMORIAL AWARDS

Midget Knights. Stan Neufeld hockey collection

Upon completion of a degree in Law from the University of Alberta of A in 1972, George articled in Calgary for one year before being called to the bar then spent the following year travelling and working in Europe. On his return to Grande Prairie in 1974 he partnered with Terry Lock and Karen Bang forming the firm of Bang, Lock and Repka; later Carter, Lock and Repka.

Along the way George continued to play hockey with the powerful U of A Golden Bears, the Leduc Oilers and the Calgary City Police team. While practicing law back home in Grande Prairie George proudly wore the Athletics number 10 for four years. He was a gift to local hockey and conversely hockey played an important role in his life.

On July 27th, 1978 Grande Prairie was saddened by the untimely death of George Repka Jr in a car accident. Like his father and sister Darlene George is remembered as a dedicated individual who derived pleasure and enjoyment from contributing to his hometown in the business world and for his community involvement. As a tribute to George the Athletics retired his number 10 and in his name it annually awards an Athletics player the “Most Dedicated Player”. In addition, the Grande Prairie Minor Hockey Association annually awards the “Sportsmanship & Dedication PeeWee”.

Two hundred dollars is presented annually toward a registration fee for the hockey school of the recipient’s choice. The recipient of the George Repka Jr. Memorial award for the 2018/19 hockey season was Kaleb Jacobsen from the Purcell Integrated PeeWee A Knight's team. Darlene Repka, George Junior’s sister was on hand to present the award on behalf of the Repka family.

 2018 – 2019  MEMORIAL AWARDS

Darlene Repka, Kaleb Jacobson and GPMH President Don Golden. Photo by Stan Neufeld

George Repka Sr
George Sr. was born in rural northeastern Alberta in 1914 to immigrant parents who came from the Ukraine. George’s formal education was limited but due to his native ability, drive and character he was successful in and contributed to our community through business, politics, sports and community service. My brother Ron remembers his warm engaging smile, sincere demeanor and firm handshake. A meat cutter by trade, he first happened upon Grande Prairie in 1942, on his way to a construction project on the Alaska Highway. He was so impressed with the Peace River Country that in 1953, he packed up his family and moved to Grande Prairie.

One financial venture for which George is remembered is the Wapiti Drive-In Theatre. Drive-In theaters became a popular form of entertainment following World War II. The Wapiti Drive In Theater was a family enterprise – a demonstration of family members working together as a team. It was sold after the 1971 season. George’s work ethic embraced a strong commitment to public service that included sports recreation and local politics. He ran for and was elected as an Alderman and he became the first Mayor after Grande Prairie received status as a city. It is my impression that as Mayor George regarded the population of Grande Prairie as his large extended family. He was re-elected for three more terms, serving as Mayor until 1968.

The George Repka Outstanding Achievement Award recognizes individuals who have made a major contribution in the areas of recreation, culture, or social services to the community. During his tenure as Mayor, Grande Prairie’s streets were paved, sidewalks were installed - a new City Hall was constructed as well as the Water Treatment Plant on the Wapiti River. A Preventive Social Service unit was established and the City-owned Industrial Park was developed. He believed Grande Prairie was the “Land of Opportunity”. Beyond Grande Prairie George served as President of the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association and in 1985, in that capacity he was honored with the Award of Excellence. His decade long service as Mayor stands as a record and reflects the respect he earned as a public servant. When George retired from politics in 1968, he dabbled in real estate and land development, forming Nor-Alta Real Estate located on Richmond Avenue downtown.

The senior George Repka’s other children inherited his dedication to community service.

About Roger Repka

Local sports fans also joined the Grande Prairie Athletics on January 21 of 1961 to mourn the passing of eldest son Roger Repka who was also killed in a motor vehicle accident. Roger was in his first year at University studying pre-law after winning the most versatile grade twelve grad award where he was president of the Grande Prairie High School Student Council. He was very active in hockey playing high school, juvenile and with the Athletics.

About Randy Repka

Randy, and wife Karen, retired to Penticton, B.C. five years ago after working for the City of G.P. for 24 years; other than going away for post-secondary school Randy was born, raised, married and brought up his own family in GP. He currently volunteers for the Penticton Archives as well as the South Peace Regional Archives in G.P. During the winter months he enjoys getting out for a skate once a week with a 55+ group. Randy also played minor hockey and moved up through the local hockey ranks like his older brothers.

About Darlene Repka-Smith

Darlene continues to be actively involved in our community. Darlene attended and graduated from our local High School. Following graduation she attended the University of Alberta earning an Arts Degree and then a Professional Diploma in Education. She taught for several years in our local public school system before following her Father’s footsteps to become a Real Estate agent. She is the Mother of two children and reports that she takes pleasure in spoiling three Grandsons. As if that is not enough, she pursues personal interests that include cooking and baking, travelling, golf, swimming, and photography.

Concerning her real estate career Darlene reports, “My Dad was a successful Realtor so I knew what the business would be like. That was 20 years ago and the best decision I ever made, as scary as it was with its ups and downs and hard work. For the years where my Real Estate Board presented awards to top Realtors, I was acknowledged as one. Now I am so lucky as my son has joined me in this amazing career and he can brag that he is a 3rd generation Realtor.”

She now carries the torch for her father and brother and is a role model for the Repka generations that follow.


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. George Repka Jr. is among the deserving recipients of recognition for outstanding service by our local minor hockey program. The following are award recipients from the two evening ceremonies:


 2018 – 2019  MEMORIAL AWARDS

Memorial Award Winners. Photo by Stan Neufeld

JUDITH RADKE AWARD since 2014-15
Ethical, Fair Play, Integrity - Female Division

Emery Fabian - Atoms
Maddyn Jacobsen - PeeWee
Reese Holman - Bantam
Ezry Goodall - Midget

KENNY MORROW AWARD since 1983-84
Most Sportsmanlike - Layne Tissington - Atom Recreation

TIM BOIVIN AWARD since 1995-96
Best Defenceman - Jaxon Foster - Atom A

All Round Best Player - Holden Gerein - Atom B

LLOYD HEAD since 1977
Diezel Wyton - Atom Development Hockey School

GEORGE REPKA JR since 1978-79
Sportsmanship & Dedication - Kaleb Jacobsen - PeeWee A

DEREK BOYD since 1987-88
Most Valuable Player - Kolter Hammel - Bantam A

BOBBY SANDS since 1974-75
Best Defenceman - Zackary Bouck - Bantam A

PETE WRIGHT since 1990-91
Best Defenceman - Kaden Reinders - Midget AAA


 2018 – 2019  MEMORIAL AWARDS

Photo 6. Team Appreciation Awards. Photo Courtesy GPMH

Kalum Hulbert

Camden Barron

Mark McCullough

Kristy Hnydyk

Initiation Most Sportsmanlike Coach
Danielle Hessler


Female Division
Rod Bowers

Intro to Hockey
Jordan Menzies

Recreation Division
Errol Hartman

Development Division
Trevor McCurdy

Scheunhage Popek & Associates Ltd.


Stan Neufeld

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