Kelowna Rockets dedicate home opener to late game official

Rockets honour Norbert Heinzelmann, who started with the franchise in the team's first ever season in Kelowna.

Longtime Kelowna Rockets off-ice official Norbert Heinzelmann was honoured by the Rockets after passing away just prior to the start of the WHL Preseason.

The Kelowna Rockets dedicated their home opening game of the 2016-17 season to long-time off-ice official Norbert Heinzelmann and his family, after Norbert passed away late this summer.

Fans heard this message about Norbert after the team was introduced at its home opener at Prospera Place in Kelowna on Saturday night.

“Norbert began working with the Rockets the very first game in 1995 and remained with the organization for over 800 games. He was here for the Memorial Cup, World Junior Games, Top Prospects and Canada-Russia series games. Clearly his passion for hockey and the Rockets made him well-known in the hockey community for many years.

The Kelowna Rockets and the Hamilton family would like to dedicate tonight’s game to Norbert and his family.

To his family and many friends…we extend our deepest sympathies for your great loss.

Norbert Heinzelmann will forever be a Kelowna Rocket.”

Heinzelmann, 57, joined the Rockets organization as an official when the team began play in Kelowna in Memorial Arena in the 95-96 WHL season.

“Not only did we lose a loyal member of our hockey club but also a wonderful person who has been with us from the very start of our time in Kelowna,” said Rockets President/GM Bruce Hamilton. “The majority of the characters that have come through this league have sat with him. The people in our organization are extremely saddened by this news and our thoughts and wishes go out to Norbert’s family.”

For 21 years he was a fixture at Rockets games, meeting with both team’s coaches prior to the game to go over the line-ups before taking up his post in the score-keeper’s booth. Over the years Heinzelmann’s fierce dedication to the Rockets would see him rarely miss a game.

Heinzelmann is survived by his wife Patti and his two children Ben and Laura as well as their extended family.