Monday, 14 January 2019

Incredible Night

I was a little preoccupied today as I was busy getting myself pretty for a major event tonight. I mentioned it last week, but tonight's the night for an exclusive black-tie event! I was lucky enough to be asked by the Bisons hockey programs to emcee their Hockey and Scholarship Fundraising Dinner, and I'm happy to report that I did my best not to ruin the evening. In saying that, I am proud to have met three incredible men as they were honoured by the hockey programs tonight in Dr. Wayne Anderson, Mr. Ryan Campbell, and Mr. Paul Maurice. The last guy's name you may recognize as the head coach of the NHL's Winnipeg Jets, but the other two men have led incredible lives since suiting up for the Bisons. I'll introduce you to them tonight.

Dr. Wayne Anderson was this year's recipient of the Gabe Pritchard Legacy Award which is awarded "annually by the men's hockey program to a recipient who exemplifies great Bisons pride and who has made an enduring and extraordinary contribution to Bisons men's hockey."

Dr. Anderson was a member of the Manitoba Bisons from 1960-1963 where he showed tremendous heart and passion as a player. In 1961-62, he was named as the team's most improved player, and he helped teach some of the players who came through the program in the following years about the importance of hard work as the 1964-65 Bisons men's hockey team is still the only men's hockey program in school history to capture the National Championship banner. At least to date, anyway.

Dr. Anderson's legacy doesn't end there. He was the 25th Chairman of the Board of Governors from 2002 to 2006 at the University of Manitoba after serving as a member of the Board of Governors for four years. As a result of this, he was awarded the Peter D. Curry Chancellor's Award for his service to the university.

Dr. Anderson has also been an important part of the Bisons men's hockey program in his post-playing days. He established the Bill Robinson Scholarship Award in honour of former Bisons head coach Bill Robinson. The award is given annually to a student-athlete in the men's hockey program that has shown the same hard work and motivation through improvement as Dr. Anderson did.

And thanks to current Bisons head coach Mike Sirant, I was informed tonight that Dr. Anderson hasn't missed a Bisons men's home game in nearly 50 years! That alone is more than impressive and deserves an award, but it was great meeting and speaking with one of the Bisons' best supporters in the history of the program in Dr. Wayne Anderson!

The second man honoured this evening is pictured to the left, and I honestly was shocked I hadn't heard of his statistical accomplishments before this night considering the rather incredible numbers he put up while wearing the brown-and-gold. That man is former Bisons sniper Ryan Campbell, and to say he's had an interesting life would be a major understatement!

Campbell played for the Bisons from 1988-1993, serving as team captain in his final two seasons with the program. In his 190 games with the Bisons, Campbell scored 96 goals and 128 assists for 224 points, earning him accolades that included being named the Bisons Rookie of the Year in 1988-89, a Canada West First-Team All-Star, the Bisons leading scorer, the Bisons MVP, and he was named as the University of Manitoba's Male Athlete of the Year in 1992-93.

While his skills on the ice were certainly impressive, Campbell also was very involved in campus and community life off the ice. He was recognized by the Bisons, Canada West, and U SPORTS for sportsmanship and ability as he was named the Canada West Dr. Gregg Award winner in 1992-93 for his high proficiency in athletics, academics, and community service. And it would be remiss if I didn't mention that Campbell also graduated with his Bachelor of Commerce degree with Honours while being named as the Valedictorian for his graduating class in 1993.

Campbell's hockey career didn't end there, though, as he made the jump across the ocean to the British National League where he suited up for the Guildford Flames for eight seasons. The Flames won the BNL South in 1997 and won the entire league championship in 2000-01, and Campbell was a big part of those victories as he scored 373 goals and 543 assists in just 474 games in the BNL! At the end of the 2001 season, Campbell's #10 was retired by the Flames as he moved into a new career after winding down his hockey-playing days.

Campbell has since earned his Certified General Accountants Professional Level designation in 2006, and he was named as the recipient of CGA Manitoba's Professional Level of Excellence in 2006 and CGA Manitoba's Meritorious Service Award in 2012. It was an honour to meet Ryan Campbell tonight, and I wish I could have seen him play before he hung up the skates professionally!

As for the guest of honour at tonight's event, Mr. Paul Maurice, everyone at the event had been waiting for his arrival. His speech was funny and inspiring. He spoke directly to the players with passion and conviction behind his words as he delivered his message. He thanked the many people in attendance for not only their contributions, but their overall support of the players and the programs in all ways they help. He was smart, articulate, caring, passionate, and inspirational. He was, in a word, perfect.

Maurice spent some time taking questions from the crowd in attendance as well, and he had some rather insightful answers to questions about chemistry in the room, his favorite player as a coach, and his views on last season's Western Conference Final series against the Vegas Golden Knights. I've seen some great speakers including the likes of Dennis Hull and Dale Hawerchuk, but if he ever tires of coaching I'm sure that Paul Maurice could spend the rest of his days very comfortable as a public speaker. He was incredible!

Again, I was honoured and humbled that I was able to welcome these three men to the event this evening, and I'm hopeful that the Bisons hockey programs made some incredible money with the amazing prizes they were offering. I'm not sure that I'll ever be asked back to emcee this event again - I'm hopeful! - but if this was my one chance, I feel like I was witness to an incredible evening of giving, guests, and 115 great people who are making Bisons hockey one of the premiere programs in all of Canada.

Thank you to all who attended and contributed to another great event!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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