Salmon Arm’s Roy Sakaki (left) has been named Hockey Canada’s Order of Merit West 2020 Award Winner for his dedication to the game. (File photo)

Salmon Arm’s Roy Sakaki (left) has been named Hockey Canada’s Order of Merit West 2020 Award Winner for his dedication to the game. (File photo)

Shuswap’s Mr. Hockey recognized by Hockey Canada

Roy Sakaki of Salmon Arm named Order of Merit West winner for 2020

On the phone accepting congratulations and well wishes from a reporter, you can hear Roy Sakaki kicking at the imaginary pebbles at his feet, his head looking down, shrugging his shoulders.

Sakaki is happy to see other people thrust into the limelight but when the light shines on him, he becomes quite bashful.

Sakaki, 72, Salmon Arm’s answer to Mr. Hockey, was honoured by Hockey Canada with its 2020 Order of Merit West Award.

“It’s quite an honour but really, there are thousands of people deserving of the award. I should be thankful, and I am,” said Sakaki, a retired school principal who has done just about every job and position within minor hockey. “It’s really an honour.”

“If you have been involved in hockey in Salmon Arm, B.C. as player, coach, official or fan,” wrote Hockey Canada on its Facebook page announcing the award, “then the name Roy Sakaki holds plenty of meaning. Over the last 50 years, Roy has become the heart of the game in the city, earning the moniker Mr. Hockey among locals.”

A graduate of the University of B.C., and a member of the school’s Thunderbirds hockey team, Sakaki, a Kamloops native, arrived in the Shuswap in the early 1970s and got involved right away behind the bench with the Salmon Arm Minor Hockey Association.

Over the next two decades he coached up and down the association, guiding his own kids and thousands of others through the game. He traded his clipboard for a whistle in the early 1990s and started officiating, and 30 years later he continues to mentor young officials to strive for excellence and not just collect a paycheque.

He and business partner Gord Mackintosh started a hockey school in Enderby and moved it to Salmon Arm, a school that ran for more than 30 years before the pair sold it to the Salmon Arm Silverbacks of the B.C. Hockey League.

In 2005, after volunteer stints as coach coordinator and referee-in-chief, Sakaki took over as administrator for the SAMHA. “He is the glue that keeps everything running smoothly, a voice of reason on committees and has a natural ability to diffuse conflict with great perspective and a big smile,” wrote Hockey Canada. “His love for the game and gentle spirit shines through in ways only people in his community can fully understand.”

The community was also thrilled to learn of Sakaki’s award, leaving many words of congratulation on the Facebook post. One came from Sakaki’s former UBC teammate Tom Williamson, who lives in Vernon.

“Roy is the greatest hockey player ever from the Kamloops Elks,” deadpanned Williamson. “I had the good fortune to be a teammate of his. Roy is a wonderful example of giving back to hockey.”

Said Debbie Kenoras: “There is no one better, so well deserved. You have a heart of a champion, Roy. So happy for you.”

Hockey Canada attached a video tribute to Sakaki which can be seen here.

READ MORE: Salmon Arm’s Roy Sakaki named Hockey Canada Ambassador



roger@vernonmorningstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

AwardsBC Minor Hockey

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Toronto’s Mass Vaccination Clinic is shown on Sunday January 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Interior Health reports 2 more deaths, 83 new COVID-19 cases

Health authority also identifies new virus cluster in Fernie

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Driver crashes vehicle twice in one day near Princeton

Abbotsford woman, 29, wasn’t injured in either incident

“My grandma always just said…making people smile is the most important thing,” says Nicholas Kruger. (Chehala Leonard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter)
Entrepreneur Nicholas Kruger nominated as Okanagan community changemaker

With humour and knowledge, Nicholas Kruger says it’s important to give back

Colton Jacob Thorsen. (Facebook)
Accused Osoyoos shooter to be tried by judge

Colton Jacob Thorsen is charged with attempted murder stemming from an October 2020 incident

A pair of Okanagan Regional Library reference librarians have created a podcast called Hard Cover that takes a zany but informative look at books, libraries and librarians. (File photo)
Okanagan reference librarians produce quirky podcast

Davin Helkenberg and Peter Critchley are behind Hard Cover

British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry addresses the media during a news conference at the BC Centre of Disease Control in Vancouver B.C. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
B.C. announces 485 new COVID-19 cases, fewest deaths in months

‘The actions we take may seem small, but will have a big impact to stop the virus,” urges Dr. Henry

Crown prosecutors have stayed attempted murder charges against Kelowna’s Jesse Pez. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Man accused in Kelowna Halloween stabbing has attempted murder charge stayed

The Crown only proceeds with charges when evidence provides ‘a substantial likelihood of conviction’

RCMP released this photo on Jan. 27, 2021 of Terrance Jones, 40, a Caucasian man with a closely shaved head, brown eyes, dirty blonde or brown hair, and a thin mustache and beard. The inside of his right arm is covered in tattoos, including one of a face. (Kamloops RCMP photo)
RCMP want public’s help to locate Shuswap man wanted on charge of attempted murder

Sicamous man was arrested previously on Jan. 11 for allegedly breaching conditions of release

Royal B.C. Museum conservator Megan Doxsey-Whitfield kneels next to a carved stone pillar believed to have significance as a First Nations cultural marker by local Indigenous people. The pillar was discovered on the beach at Dallas Road last summer. Museum curatorial staff have been working with Songhees and Esquimalt Nation representatives to gain a clearer picture of its use. (Photo courtesy Royal BC Museum)
Stone carving found on Victoria beach confirmed Indigenous ritual pillar

Discussion underway with the Esquimalt and Songhees about suitable final home for the artifact

Former Vancouver Giants forward Evander Kane is seen here in Game 7 of the second round of the 2009 WHL playoffs against the Spokane Chiefs (Sam Chan under Wikipedia Commons licence)
Gambling debts revealed in details of bankruptcy filing by hockey star Evander Kane

Sharks left winger and former Vancouver Giants player owes close to $30 million total

Othman “Adam” Hamdan, pictured in front of Christina Lake’s Welcome Centre, was acquitted of terrorism related charges in 2017. He has been living in Christina Lake since November 2020. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Man acquitted on terrorism charges awaits deportation trial while living in Kootenays

Othman Ayed Hamdan said he wants to lead a normal life while he works on his upcoming book

B.C. Premier John Horgan wears a protective face mask to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 prior to being sworn in by The Honourable Janet Austin, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia during a virtual swearing in ceremony in Victoria, Thursday, November 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Premier Horgan calls jumping COVID vaccine queue ‘un-Canadian’

Horgan says most people in B.C. are doing their best to follow current public health guidelines

Vernon’s Noric House long-term care facility is dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
COVID-19: Two more deaths at Vernon’s Noric House

Total deaths climb to 17 at local long-term care outbreaks

Most Read