There was great food, generous auction bids, two entertaining speakers and two deserving award winners all taking centre stage to make the 2013 5th Annual Neepawa Sports Dinner one of the most memorable in its short history.
One of the largest crowds in the Dinner's history, about 300 people, filled the Yellowhead Centre Saturday night.
“It was the best one yet,” Leisure Services manager Amanda Novak said. "The audience was great, and the entertainment was awesome."
Keith Jordan was recognized as the 2013 Sportsman of the Year for his continued efforts in mentoring young officials for minor hockey in Neepawa and area.
Jordan schedules all officials for Neepawa Minor Hockey, and has proven to be a great resource in keeping young referees dedicated to an otherwise typically unthankful job.
“It's good to see someone outside of the athletic side of sports get the award,” Dave Clark, who introduced Jordan at the Dinner, explained. “He's been dedicated to developing young officials in Neepawa Minor Hockey. He does spend countless hours on ice mentoring, or off ice mentoring, never complains about his job, and is always constructive with criticizing or praising.”
Jordan has been doing this for years in Neepawa and area.
Meanwhile, a new award was added to the evening as well.
Halli Krzyzaniak was named the inaugural Local Athlete Recognition winner – an award aiming to recognize outstanding achievement by Neepawa area athletes who have achieved a superior level of
Krzyzaniak came up through the Neepawa Minor Hockey system, played at B.C.'s Pursuit of Excellence school from Grades 8-12, played and acted as captain for U18 Team Manitoba from 2010-12, being named the National Tournament MVP and top defenseman at the 2012 tournament, and helped lead Team Canada to its first ever back-to-back championships at the U18 World Championships in 2011 and 2012.
She was named to the tournament's All-Star Team, and named the Top Defenseman at the 2012 World Championships, and is now playing hockey at the University of North Dakota and is on the radar for the National Women's Team.
“She has proven herself as one of the top U20 female hockey players in the world today, and she is on course to become one of the best female hockey players of any age, anywhere on the globe,” Kaiten Critchlow, who introduced Krzyzaniak as the recipient, said. “And she is quite possibly the most accomplished teenage athlete Neepawa has ever produced.”
Tiger Williams was featured as the keynote speaker, keeping the audience laughing throughout his candid recollections of his hockey memories, while comedian Tim Nutt continued the laughter to conclude the evening.
Williams and Nutt added to the entertainment by throwing jabs at one another, as well as local businessman Pat Guilbert who was playfully coined “The Village Idiot” after wearing a Canadiens jersey when Williams is a former Maple Leafs player.