HALIFAX: Local coaches and the minor hockey association won awards handed out by Hockey Nova Scotia (HNS).

The Strait Richmond Minor Hockey Association (SRMHA) was named the Development Association of the Year.

“With a focus on camps and development sessions, the organization demonstrated its passion for the on-ice growth of its players this season,” Hockey Nova Scotia said on its web site.

In an effort to get members ready for the 2020-21 hockey season, HNS said the SRMHA hosted a special skills and conditioning weekend last September for players from the U9 to U15 levels.

Prior to tryouts in October, HNS said the association ran a skills and drills program that was held twice-per-week for three-straight weeks. In March, the SRMHA also launched a development camp for members from U9 to U13, HNS said.

Throughout the season, the SRMHA supported its coaches and put an emphasis on the use of technology and equipment during practices, HNS said, noting coaches showed an eagerness and willingness to learn from the development coordinator and apply these new skills to their own team’s practice plans.

“All of these sessions were all-attended by players, coaches, and other team staff who truly bought into the association’s development vision,” HNS stated.

The Denny Deveau Award went to Quad County U13 AA coach Mackenzie Wright. The award is named in honour of former Hockey Nova Scotia president Denny Deveau and is presented annually to an outstanding leader in female hockey.

A popular and well-liked coach, HNS said Wright just wrapped up her second season behind the bench.

“The young volunteer is extremely personable and has a natural ability to connect with her players,” HNS said. “Throughout the past two seasons, she has been very supportive of the girls on her team, encouraging their development on and off the ice and helping instill a love of the game in all of them.

A talented player, Mackenzie brings her knowledge and expertise to every game and practice. She is a valuable volunteer and a leader in the Strait area hockey community.”

HNS named SRMHA coach Cory MacNeil Coach of the Year Award (Rec/C-Level).

“Whether it was through a joke or an uplifting pep talk, this hockey leader always maintained a positive team environment,” HNS noted.

Despite the challenges of the past season, HNS said MacNeil helped lead the Strait Richmond U11 C Pirates to “an exciting and entertaining” campaign.

“For Cory, the on-ice growth of his players is always a top priority. A patient coach and clear communicator, Cory helped make the season a rewarding one for the Pirates. Whether it was through a joke or an uplifting pep talk, the hardworking and eager hockey leader always maintained a positive environment for his team.”

At the end of the hockey season, HNS said his players made big improvements on the ice and finished the year more confident in their own abilities.

“It is clear that Cory takes great pride in his role,” HNS added.