KIJHL announces its Off-Ice Award Winners


The Kootenay International Junior Hockey League is proud to recognize four individuals for their off-ice accomplishments and contributions in the Off-Ice Awards. It’s the third year the league has shined a spotlight in the categories of Community Player of the Year, Scholastic Player of the Year, Volunteer of the Year and Broadcaster of the Year.

Community Player of the Year: Taylor Haggerty, Fernie Ghostriders

Haggerty was heavily involved in the community and always the first to set up when asked to help. He went above and beyond in organizing his own community initiatives from running a weekly skating program for special needs kids, to 1:1 mentoring with special needs children, providing emotional support to a family with a child with cancer; volunteered at senior bingo night; Halloween trick-or-treating with

Children and the Christmas Kettles for the Salvation Army.

“Taylor receiving such a meaningful award brings great pride to the Ghostriders as this is what our team wants to emulate in our players,” says Ghostriders president Barb Anderson. “Community to the Ghostriders is held very closely as it’s an extension of our team. Community means extended family for our organization and players.”

Anderson added the impact of the award “is very meaningful to not only our organization, but to the great hockey world.” 

“Giving of yourself is a very important value, which extends long into the future of each person,” she says. “It also shows the value of what we do off the ice is as important as the performance on the ice.” 

Taylor Haggerty
Scholastic Player of the Year: Nathan Simm, Beaver Valley Nitehawks

Simm averaged 95 per cent in his studies, which included difficult courses such as Chemistry, Engineering Studies, Math 12, and French Immersion during the season. Nitehawks head coach-general manager Terry Jones said what Simm accomplished is “incredible” and added, “in most of my career in education, I have not seen a transcript like this.”

Simm completed his first semester of Grade 12 with the intention to become an engineer. 

“Nathan is a fantastic person, hard worker and exceptional student,” says Jones. “He is very worthy of this award and we are proud of the exceptional standard of excellence he has demonstrated these past two years while completing high school and competing in hockey at a high level. His transcript speaks for itself with marks in the 90s.”

Nathan Simm
Jim Harrington Memorial Award for Volunteer of the Year: Bernie Piccolo, Beaver Valley Nitehawks

Piccolo has been a dedicated member for seven years, and in the last five, she has played a crucial role in managing both concessions in the Beaver Valley Arena. Her responsibilities include scheduling volunteers, ordering stock, and overseeing all aspects of concession management. Her hard work and

dedication has significantly contributed to the overall financial success of the hockey club.

“Bernie is a tireless worker who is so committed to our organization and we are beyond lucky to have her involved,” says Nitehawks vice-president Jake Swanson, who also credited the volunteers who help Piccolo regularly. “She shows up at the rink early to get the concession open for our home games. Bernie is such an important part of our team, I don’t know what we would do without her.”

Piccolo also gives time towards minor hockey, figure skating and other public events to assure they go smoothly.

Bernie Piccolo is on the far right.
Broadcaster of the Year: Kevin McKinnon, Grand Forks Border Bruins

It’s the third straight season McKinnon and his crew have earned this award. “Sportsnet on a budget” found more ways to take their broadcast to another level with intermission player interviews and pre-recorded interviews. McKinnon does the play-by-play, Cody Thate is the commentator and producer, Les Johnson is the camera operator and Bronwen Bird is the intermission correspondent interviewing the home and visiting players.

The team also produced pre-recorded interviews with players and other Border Bruins and game-day content for in-arena fans on the video wall installed last summer.

“I know they are really honoured to be recognized. We have an unbelievable crew,” says Border Bruins head coach-general manager Dave Hnatiuk. “They keep stepping it up and raising the bar in the league and helping other teams bring up their broadcasting standards. They do a fantastic job and I’m really proud of them. It’s great to see them get recognized.”

The Grand Forks Border Bruins win the KIJHL’s Broadcaster of the Year award for the third straight season. Cody Thate, left, is the commentator and producer, working with play-by-play Kevin McKinnon (right).