The Ontario Junior Hockey League today announced that Hal Gies (pictured during 30th anniversary in 2006 - photo credit: Graham Paine/Canadian Champion), a long-time volunteer with the Milton Icehawks, has been named the recipient of the OJHL Volunteer-of-the-Year Award.
The London, Ontario native has spent the past 38 years helping out the Milton Icehawks, beginning in 1976-77 with the Junior 'B' Milton Flyers, after being the London Knights stick boy from 1971-73. During his tenure with the franchise, Gies has seen the club undergo three name changes, from Flyers to Steamers (1983) to Merchants (1986) to Icehawks (2003), as well as make the transition from Junior 'B' to Junior 'A' in 1992. He was part of the Merchants dynasty from 1997-99 that would see the club capture back-to-back OJHL Championships in 1997 and 1998, while finishing as runner-up in 1999. They also captured back-to-back regular season titles in 1998 and 1999, as well as 2006, captured seven Division titles and won the Dudley-Hewitt Cup in 1997-98, earning a trip to the Royal Bank Cup, National Junior 'A' Championship that was held in Nanaimo, B.C.
Gies is Mr. Hockey for the Icehawks and a jack-of-all-trades. Never missing a game, the extremely reliable and affable assistant equipment manager is the longest serving volunteer in the OJHL, while also one of our most spirited fans. Always willing to lend a hand, Gies is often seen filling water bottles, moving sticks, cleaning jerseys, running the clock, assisting trainers and even helping the visiting team unload and set-up when they arrive. Suffice to say, the OJHL is Gies' passion and he has an uncanny memory when it comes to its players, coaches, owners and stories.
In 2004, Gies was honoured at the Ontario Volunteer Service Awards (for Hamilton and Area) for his 10 years of service to Service for Seniors and in November of 2006, he was honoured by the Icehawks for his 30th anniversary helping out with the club.
Born on August 2, 1959, the 54-year old Gies plays baseball, bowling and floor hockey. He also has spent time volunteering with a variety of or other organizations in the area, including the Allendale Long-Term Care Facility, The Family Place Child Care facility at Bishop Redding and with Community Living North Halton.
The OJHL Volunteer-of-the-Year is awarded annually to the person who has volunteered for a club(s) that is adjudged to consistently have gone above & beyond the call of duty for his/her member club throughout the course of the regular season, while past experience and time served will be taken into consideration.
The OJHL Coach-of-the-Year and Coach Canada Most Improved Player Award recipients will be announced later this week.
(Nathan can be reached at email@example.com)