Southwest trio called to Hall of Fame

The Saskatchewan Hockey Hall of Fame recently announced that seven individuals and one team will make up the 2018 Class of Inductees across five different categories.

The 2018 class will be inducted into the Saskatchewan Hockey Hall of Fame at an induction dinner on July 7 at the Innovation Credit Union iplex in Swift Current.

It will be a fitting location as three of the individuals hail from the Southwest.

Shaunavon’s Hayley Wickenheiser will be one of three individuals inducted in the Players category. The longest serving member of Canada’s National Women’s Team, Wickenheiser played in the first five Olympic Games that included women’s hockey and won four gold medals and one silver.

She made her debut with the National Team in 1993-94 when she was only 15, the youngest player to ever represent Canada at the IIHF Women’s World Championship.

Amongst her many notable accomplishments was a stint with Kirkkonummen Salamat in the second division of the Finnish Elite League in 2003. Three weeks after her debut she became the first woman to score a goal in a men’s professional league.

Wickenheiser was also Canada’s flag bearer for the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games. In 2015, Wickenheiser completed her Masters in Medical Sciences and officially announced her retirement as a hockey player in 2017.

Two longtime Swift Current hockey volunteers also will join the Saskatchewan Hockey Hall of Fame in the Grassroots category.

Larry Johnson began playing hockey on the creek in Moose Jaw at the age of four and continued playing until the age of 60. His coaching career spanned four decades, beginning in 1974 until 2015. Johnson coached both male and female hockey in Swift Current over that time and helped develop players such as National Women’s Team member Bobbi-Jo Slusar and former National Hockey Leaguer Travis Moen. He served as President of the Swift Current Midget AAA Legionnaires for 15 years, was a founding board member of the Swift Current Tournament of Champions, and co-founded the Swift Current Wheelchair hockey program with Slusar.

The late Dennis Loeppky will also be inducted in the Grassroots category. The dedicated community volunteer began selling programs at the brand new Centennial Civic Centre in 1967. He became a steady presence in the timekeepers box as the timekeeper and scorekeeper for the Swift Current Broncos and Swift Current Indians in the SJHL as well as numerous other minor hockey, old timer, and ringette tournaments. The Loeppky family also opened their home to billet junior hockey players. Loeppky passed away in 2017, but was recently inducted into the Swift Current Broncos Hall of Fame in recognition of his 50 years of volunteer service.

The 2018 inductees are:

Players: Ron Delorme, Bill Hicke*, Hayley Wickenheiser

Builder: John Kelly Lovering*

Official: Lyle Wilhelm

Grassroots: Larry Johnson, Dennis Loeppky*

Team: 1987-88 Notre Dame Hounds

*Denotes inductee is deceased