Orleans Minor Hockey Association (OMHA)
President’s Report
2018 – 2019 Season

Another great hockey season has come and gone at the OMHA! A lot was accomplished this season, and first and foremost I want to thank all of the many volunteers who helped out in all aspects of the game. From the great Board of Exercutives that I have had the privilege to serve with, the extended board members (Conveners, Ice Scheduler, Webmaster, and Equipment Managers), the Coach Mentorship Program, the Atom Tournament organizers, the coaches and assistant coaches, managers, trainers, Scoreboard/Game sheet operators, and everyone else who helped out. That’s well over 150 volunteers – A really BIG THANK YOU!

This season was another successful season with 11 of 25 teams moving past the Round Robin stage of the playoffs, playing in the quarterfinals. Seven teams made it past the quarterfinals, into the semifinals. And finally, four of our teams made it to the GHA finals with three teams being victorious and adding more banners to our rafters. This is a testament to the extraordinary efforts and time invested by our Coach Mentorship Program led by Joel Neuheimer and our Coach Community of Practice (CCoP). Our Mentorship program ongoing efforts in helping our association reap the rewards of having a more defined coaching strategy across the Association. Coaches and assistant coaches are better able to instruct our players and help them in the ongoing development at all levels. In addition, the mentorship program also ran our skating program for our Novice through Peewee divisions as well as our goalie clinics for our house league players.

And, as much as holding banners is a mark of success, it is not everything. We do not measure success by the hardware and banners we collect or by the number of wins and losses or by what is reflected on the score board. We measure success using the following three key indicators:

If the response to all three questions is “YES”, than we have had a successful season. Success can also be measured by the enthusiasm and excitement that our teams are generating for, and by, our players. They are all creating a wonderful hockey environment for the players, we hear many stories about fantastic team events, team fundraising, team volunteerism and exciting tournament experiences.

New Player Development Program

Pat Brookes, a member of the Coach Mentoring Program developed the OMHA’s new player development program. Pat’s innovative approach to this new program was to standardize on ice practices for all of the Novice, Atom and Peewee teams. Pat’s plan included a very cost effective way to add 9 on ice practices for Novice and Atom teams, 6 additional on ice practices for the Peewee teams and 6 on ice Goalies development practices. Wow! …. Talk about getting the biggest bang for our buck!!!

Our Incredible HEO Endorsed IP Program

Jocelyn Murray spearheaded the overhaul of the OMHA IP program. You see, back in 2013, the relationship between the IP program and the OMHA executive had been fractured and totally disconnected and the IP parents and instructors made it very clear to the then executive that they were not happy about the state of things.

 When no one stood up to take on the challenge, Joce, jumped at the chance as he recognized the need to mend and re-establish a relationship with our IP program as they’re the grass roots and foundation of our association. 

Joce worked hard for a year to develop a new IP program curriculum to support Hockey Canada’s mandate and developed a new IP infrastructure within the OMHA to support the new curriculum. And for the next five years, Joce worked extremely hard to care and nurture the new OMHA IP program to what it has become today as the HEO has declared the OMHA’s IP program as the most innovative and cutting edge among all of the associations within HEO. Joce pursued his Coach 1 certification so that he could be an on ice IP instructor, waking up at 6 am to go to the rink and work with other instructors to give our kids the best IP player development experience ever. I have gone to the rink myself to see first hand how all of the kids interacted with Joce and the kids just smiled every time he was around. Joce was often seen working with the kids who were afraid or felt like they were so out of their element, they were overwhelmed.

In these situations, Joce always made the kids feel like they could do anything.

Orleans RUSH!!

Now, after completing our fourth season wearing the “RUSH” jersey, it was great to see how much everyone still loves being an “Orleans RUSH”. The smiles that was evident as our hockey players skated around with their Orleans RUSH sweaters was great to see. And to watch the players proudly wear their various “Rush Wear”; everything from Rush coats to ball caps and toques and everything in between truly reflected their sense of belonging to what we consider to be a wonderful and exciting hockey association.

Integrated Rep B Program

In year four of our integrated Rep B Program. Blackburn, Orleans and Gloucester Centre and the results have been nothing short of staggering. We were able to ice 8 very competitive teams this season, whereby Three of the teams went on to play in the A Championship playoffs and going two rounds; while the other five played in the B playoffs with four teams making it to the finals and three emerging as victorious.

Volunteer Appreciation Night

On April 26, 2018 at the Broadway’s Bar and Grill restaurant, approximately 140 Orleans Rush and Blues volunteers gathered to celebrate a year where their efforts and dedication to their teams and association did not go unnoticed as, in humble fashion, the Orleans Minor Hockey Association provided a Lasagna dinner complete with Ceasar salad, garlic toast, desert squares and drinks. Each volunteer was given a token gift of appreciation of a beautiful picnic blanket, etched with our Rush Logo. A big thank you goes to Deborah Evraire of “Collage Creative” for these wonderful creations. There were also some great door prizes (10 awesome NHL jerseys and gift certificates). Congratulations to all of the lucky winners.

A BIG THANK YOU goes to Clarence Ruddy, our Equipment Manager, for playing fantastic live music from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s

In our third year of bringing back a tradition of old (almost 20 years) whereby we can bring all of our volunteers together in one room to be recognized as the very backbone of our association with a small token of our appreciation. This also allows everyone to meet each other and for the OMHA board to get to know a little bit more about who’s selflessly giving of their time to make our players’ hockey experience a positive one.


We took the liberty of presenting the following awards to very deserving volunteers

Award Recipient
Louise Groulx
Volunteer of the Year
Jocelyn Murray
President’s Award Riccardo Panarella
Coach of the Year Kevin Gallagher
Manager of the Year Isabelle McCann
Trainer of the Year Terry Seeney
Annual Brad Girouard Award

In a hockey dressing room there are a varied lot of characters awaiting the coach’s signal, “The ice is ready”.
Up from the bench the players move as one unit because they are after all, a team with a common purpose.  Among this team are individuals each with their own contributing talents. There is the high scorer, the setup man, the stalwart defenseman and determined goaltender. These players are easily identified and looked upon to lead the team to victory.  But there is another player whose contribution is not measured in points or blocked shots. That player carries the team spirit and injects the intangible joy that surrounds minor hockey and teamwork. Every team has one; every team needs one if that team is to gain the ultimate objective which is - camaraderie and belonging. The players know the individual described here, the team identifies with this character.
Bradley Girouard was such a player. In 1997, at eighteen, he was a victim of a careless driver, leaving Orleans with a major void.
His value to his team and our organization was evident so much so, that the Orleans Minor Hockey Association dedicated a trophy in his honour, to recognize the player that most contributes to their team by overcoming personal obstacles yet exhibiting a display of friendship to others to enhance the love of the game. It is fitting that this trophy bear Bradley’s name. To know him better, visit his memory case adorning the hall between the Orleans Arenas. In his final act of selflessness, Bradley donated his organs so that others may enjoy a better life.  The last trophy he received (posthumously) is a medal from a grateful Children’s Hospital.

The Bradley Girouard Trophy is presented annually to the player that best personifies minor hockey’s objective, an infectious joy of hockey as determined by grateful teammates. The player receiving this acknowledgement has made hockey a rewarding experience for all.

For 21 years, Ted and Barb Girouard, parents of Bradley Girouard have been presenting these trophies in Brad’s honour. This year’s recipients are:

Bentley SowinskiNovice
Adele QueryAtom
Bryce BerryPee-Wee
Liam FarleyBantam
Ross RoweMidget

To this end, I would like to say that the information I share within this report is but a sample of what our great association accomplished this season. As we do in past seasons; all of which fills me with such pride only matched by the size of our association and the beating hearts of our board members (executive and extended) and the numerous volunteers who make it all happen.

Thank you all!

Yours in hockey,

Gilles Vanasse
Orleans Minor Hockey Association (OMHA)