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

(Kelowna Capital News)
B.C. Labour Board orders Peachland cannabis company to reinstate laid-off employees

The B.C. Labour Relations Board determined the employees were laid off due to their plan to unionize

École de L’Anse-au-sable. (Google Maps)
COVID-19 outbreak at Kelowna Francophone school

Three cases of the virus have been identified at École de L’Anse-au-sable

In this file photo, snow is seen falling along the Coquihalla Highway. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)
Weather statement issued for Coquihalla, Hwy 3, as arctic front approaches

The early season snowfall expected to hit Fraser Valley, Friday, Oct. 23

BC Green Party candidate Amanda Poon (left) and BC Liberal Party candidate Renee Merrifield (right). (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)
Person who attended BC Liberal candidate’s Kelowna home event tests positive for COVID-19

Kelowna-Mission candidate Renee Merrifield has not exhibited any symptoms of the virus

Myra Canyon Halloween SCARE Park opens on Friday, Oct. 23, 2020. (Contributed)
Myra Canyon SCARE park returns this Halloween season

Opening night is this coming Friday, Oct. 23 at 5:30 p.m.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry presents modelling of COVID-19 spread in B.C., March 25, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. sets another COVID-19 record with 203 new cases

up to 1,766 active cases in B.C., two more deaths

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
British Columbia man dies during ski trip near glacier west of Calgary

Kananaskis Public Safety and Alpine Helicopters responded around 2:30 p.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday, Oct. 19, 2020, following a week-long break for the House of Commons. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
One crisis after another for Trudeau since last federal election one year ago

It has been a year of unprecedented calamity and crisis

Curtis Sagmoen
Public warning issued to North Okanagan sex trade workers

RCMP warns workers to stay away from Salmon River Road area

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Two pigs roam the Salmon Arm Walmart parking lot during a prior visit photographed by Danielle Burgi. (Danielle Burgi photo)
Pigs trot over for a visit at Salmon Arm shopping centre

Employees say this was the second drop-in from the temporarily free-range porkers

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Penticton law courts. (Black Press file)
Osoyoos man in court for alleged shooting

The Oct. 11 shooting left a man with non-life threatening injuries

Most Read