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Blizzard say goodbye to season; nine players


OCN Blizzard this past Wednesday night at the Aseneskak Casino had their annual Blizzard Wind-Up, a night to say bye to the players for another season and to have their annual Blizzard Awards to congratulate players who excelled in certain areas.
The Blizzard Awards for the various different players are as follows:

Hard Worker Award: Mark Liwiski and Bryon Fobair
Top Defensive Forward Award: Bryon Fobair
Rookie Award: Tony Apetagon and Mark Liwiski
Skill Sportsmanship Award: Eamonn Miller
Community Award: Wyatt Riendeau
Most Dedicated Award: Austin Shumanski
Top Defenceman Award: Matthew Greening and Tavis Roch
Most Popular Award: Anthony Keeper
Top Scorer Award: Anthony Keeper
Wrecking Ball Award: Lantz Hiebert and Daylon Campbell
MVP Award Tavis Roch
MVP Playoffs Award: Brady Valiquette
Scholastic Award: Rylan Bartley
Wayne Hawrysh Award Volunteer Award: Mouse Constant

This was also the chance to say goodbye to the nine players who are aging out of junior hockey; Jesse Roach, Brayden Dale, Anthony Keeper, Brady Valiquette, Lantz Hiebert, Tavis Roch, Matthew Greening, Daylon Campbell and Emilien Boily.
Two of those players, Campbell and Hiebert, are both The Pas locals who have played with the OCN Blizzard for their entire junior A careers.
“For the last three years it has been my home. I grew up here and as I grew older and finished midget I was lucky enough to play on OCN in my 18-year-old year and now I’m 20 years old, finished my junior career. I can’t say enough of the OCN Blizzard organization; it’s one of the best in Canada. I think they’re rough, tough and that’s the style of hockey I play and it’s been a great three years here; (I) can’t say enough about them,” said Hiebert.
Campbell said he’s going to miss all the new friends he makes every year when he was a part of the Blizzard team.
“You learn to meet a lot of people. There’s 24 guys on each roster and you pretty much become brothers throughout the year; guys you just met at the start of the year by the end of the year you’re pretty much brothers,” said Campbell, adding that his favorite part of the season was during the tail end of the 2016/17 playoff season.
“The first two games of the finals last year (were) probably my most memorable. The rink was packed like I’ve never seen it before, all my family was there; I just remember scoring, looking up at the fans and just how ecstatic everyone was just watching you,” Campbell said.
Off the top of his head Hiebert said that the last and final playoff game they had down in Winkler was one of the more memorable ones.
“Those games were pretty memorable but this last game for me in Winkler was my last game in junior A hockey ever. We were down 3-1 in the second period, then I got a jump and got two goals, got the boys back into it 3-3; that was probably one of my last memorable games,” Hiebert said.
It was also the stuff off the ice with the team they also enjoyed and being part of the community as a whole. For Hiebert it was taking part in the Northern Manitoba Trappers’ Festival as part of the OCN Blizzard, and seeing all the players from out of town get involved.
“(For me), it was Trappers’ Festival, doing all that stuff in the community. We did dog sled races, helping out the kids at the school for the last three years, just all the kids looking up to us and seeing the smile on their faces, all the guys from out of town. Daylon and I are local but seeing our teammates who’ve never seen that stuff ever coming here and seeing their eyes light up when they see those dogs and all the other Trappers’ events the team was a part of,” explained Hiebert.
Both players said that they’re going to probably enter the workforce, with Hiebert saying he’ll go to school in a couple years and Campbell adding, “I’m not saying goodbye to hockey but it was a good ride growing up here and I had a lot of good experiences. (I’m) just (going to) start a new chapter here in my life.”
It was also a time to remember those lost this year, namely co-founder of the OCN Blizzard Nathan McGillivary who passed away on January 20, 2018. McGillivary took part in the ‘Save the Blizzard’ campaign towards the tail end of the 2016-2017 season that ultimately stopped the team from being relocated elsewhere, in addition to being a prominent member of the community.

Trevor Wright