PORT HARDY — Malcolm Richards got a lot of ice time last season as a skater with the Port Hardy Minor Hockey Association midget team. But it paled to his ice time as a referee in the bantam house tournament, during which he refereed 14 games.
For that effort, Richards was honoured last week with the Hugh Fraser Referee of the Year Award during the Port Hardy Minor Hockey annual general meeting and awards dinner at the Civic Centre.
Richards refereed most of those games while paired with his father, Graham. Graham Richard earned an honour of his own during the meeting when he was elected association president for the 2011-12 season, replacing the outgoing Brian Heller.
Other top awards went to Bantam skater Terri McLaughlin, who received the Brian Burns Memorial Mentor Award for her work assisting the prenut/peanut players, and to Quinn Mellow, who was honoured as Coach of the Year for his work with a bantam program that drew 28 players and was split into two teams for much of the season.
In his outgoing address, Heller said the association was on solid financial footing thanks to hosting a series of successful tournaments, and that registration fees would remain the same for next season. But he and past president Brad Bunyan both warned that it would need more referees to step up for next season to avoid some hard choices.
“Port Hardy referee numbers are the lowest they’ve been in at least 20 years,” Bunyan said. “There’s a high demand for more refs at all age groups. If we don’t get them, it means the possibility of no home tournaments, no home games, or paying travel expenses for visiting refs to come.”
Heller also alerted skaters and parents that the deadline for registering with the North Island Eagles rep hockey program this year will move up from mid-August to August 1, so the reps will have time to determine which teams they will be able to field next season.
Port Hardy Minor Hockey will have plenty of experience on its executive board in the coming year, as most of the key postions were retained by returning officers. But the program’s head coach position was left vacant after the meeting, and Heller and Bunyan said it will need to be filled before the new season begins.