The recipient of the 12th annual John Reid Memorial Scholarship has fond memories of playing in the bantam AAA tournament that honours Reid’s memory.
“It feels like yesterday that I was in the tournament. Time flies by,” said Josh Dechaine, a netminder for the St. Albert Gregg Distributors Sabres at the 2013 John Reid Memorial Tournament. “I definitely remember that first game. It was a crazy loud crowd. All the kids came out from school. I think we lost 3-2. We played Tyson Jost (of the Pursuit of Excellence Hockey Academy who plays for the Colorado Avalanche) and it was actually a phenomenal game. It was really close, but super fun to be in it.
“I got lucky enough to get the start. Definitely some jitters in the legs, but it’s something I will always remember.”
Thursday’s scholarship presentation during the opening ceremonies of the Reid tournament was also extra special for Dechaine.
“It’s definitely a huge honour. I’m sure there are tons of amazing applications, so to be selected for the one to win it definitely means a lot to me and I definitely appreciate it,” said the second-year University of Alberta business student.
The Reid scholarship recognizes former St. Albert bantam AAA players who possess strong leadership qualities, community involvement and academic performance as well as display a passion for hockey like Reid demonstrated as a player, coach, parent and supporter of the game.
Reid died of leukemia at age 41 on Nov. 6, 2003, and the next year the tournament was renamed in his memory.
“The year that most of you bantams were born, there were about 30 bantam parents that decided to create a scholarship fund. They wanted to give back to the community and challenge young athletes to pursue their educational goals,” said Karen Sutherland, treasurer for the John Reid Memorial Society Scholarship Fund, while announcing this year’s scholarship winner at the opening ceremonies at Go Auto Arena.
Individuals who played for the Sabres after the 2004/05 season and played hockey in St. Albert for a minimum of three years were eligible to apply.
“There are many excellent applications and the decision is never easy,” said Sutherland, one of five individuals who decide on the successful applicant.
Previous recipients were Justin Kueber, Joshua Maeda, Steven Woolger, Brady McCorriston, Ryan Harrison, Liam Liston, Steven Canduro, Brady Reid, Brad Holmes, Tyler Dea, Josh Perrott and Curtis Peck.
Dechaine was a worthy recipient, according to Sutherland. “He’s received exceptional results in his post-secondary education and he’s displayed good sportsmanship, team work and exceptional leadership, including organizing the St. Albert Humboldt Broncos Memorial Tournaments.”
Dechaine, 21, credits hockey for making him the person he is today.
“It teaches you every life skill you could really need. You learn how to work in a team setting and that commitment and understanding needed to work together. Sometimes you have to put things aside to be committed to something and now it's school for myself when it was once hockey. There is lot of perseverance and dedication and stuff like that you definitely end up using later on in life,” said the bachelor of commerce student with a major in business economics in law and a minor in finance. “After business I hope to go into law school.”
Dechaine realized hockey is more than a sport as co-organizer for the 2018 and 2019 charity hockey fundraisers to honour the memories of the four St. Albert Raiders Hockey Club alumni – Logan Hunter, Jaxon Joseph, Conner Lukan and Stephen Wack – killed in the Humboldt Broncos' bus crash in April 2018.
“It’s a rewarding experience just seeing the community and the response everybody always has. Everybody is so helpful always. Everybody always wants to pitch in and donate something so definitely for me the biggest thing is just seeing how tight-knit the hockey community is. It’s kind of a huge eye opener and just understanding just how large the hockey family really is and just understanding the impact it really has on the community.”
On the ice, Dechaine was grateful for the season he had with the Sabres while posting a 3-8-3 record and 3.96 GAA in league play, plus a 1-2 mark and 3.67 GAA in the Reid tournament.
“Definitely it was a huge thing to get exposed to WHL teams and to be able to talk to those teams and go to some WHL camps following that season so it definitely got the ball rolling,”
Dechaine would later play for the midget 15 St. Albert Flyers and midget AAA St. Albert Raiders before moving on to junior with stints with the Whitecourt Wolverines and Sherwood Park Crusaders in the Alberta Junior Hockey League, La Ronge Ice Wolves in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League and Edmonton Oil Kings in the Western Hockey League.
“The icing on the cake was being able to play for the Oil Kings (12-14-2, 4.19 GAA in 2017/18). To live at home and have my family and friends come to my games was kind of special for me.”
Dechaine wrapped up his hockey career with the St. Albert Merchants in the Capital Junior B Hockey with eight games last season after the Christmas break (4-4, 3.46 GAA) and three games during the opening three weeks of this season (2-1, 3.00 GAA).
"I started out playing this year, but I'm pretty committed to school,” Dechaine said. “It was a little much with practices and games.”
Stepping away from the sport that’s been an integral part of Dechaine’s life has been tough at times.
“It’s definitely hard. I definitely still think about hockey. You miss the whole atmosphere of being with the boys and playing on the road, stuff like that. It's something you will always remember and you always love. You definitely miss it,” said the Bellerose Composite High School graduate.