We’ll be back next year with awards event, Hockey Weekly vows
At last year’s banquet at the Farmington Hills Manor, hundreds of players, parents and supporters spent a few hours cheering on Michigan High School hockey.
Just as the coronavirus pandemic ended the 2019-20 High School Hockey season abruptly, it also put the kibosh on the 18th annual Hockey Weekly High School Awards Luncheon.
The event, which draws some 600 attendees to honor the season's on-and-off-ice performances of High School Hockey, was scheduled for March 29 at Farmington Hills Manor in Farmington.
"We were just as devastated as the players, coaches, officials and fans to see the High School Hockey season end without champions," said John Castine, Hockey Weekly Publisher. "We were at USA Arena a couple of hours before the scheduled game time to report and photograph the contests when the decision was made.
"Seeing players, especially seniors, crying was a tough scene to take in."
In 2003, when Castine and Hockey Weekly joined forces with longtime hockey equipment rep Graham Watson to bring annual recognition to High School Hockey, they didn't realize the event would grow from a gathering of 80 people to the hundreds that now attend.
Six years into the event, Detroit Red Wings Captain Henrik Zetterberg got involved as the title sponsor while also financing two scholarships, one each for the senior boy and senior girl player for their first year in college. The amount eventually grew to $2,500 each.
For 10 years, Wings Senior Vice-President Jim Devellano has provided matching scholarships for two other boy and girl players.
Due to the way the season ended, application deadlines for both scholarships have been extended to April 20. For more information, click here.
After Zetterberg retired as a player in 2018, the search was on for a new sponsor or sponsors for the luncheon and the scholarship. Almost immediately two longtime Red Wings groups stepped up. The Detroit Red Wings Alumni Association agreed to take over as title sponsor of the luncheon while the Detroit Red Wings Foundation agreed to fund the scholarships.
Another new sponsor who is also well known to the hockey community, Perani's Hockey World, has become the presenting sponsor of the Most Valuable Goalie awards.
"It's disappointing the new sponsors came in at this season-shortened time," said Castine. "But we are doing everything we can to make known that they are on board now and will be back next season."
For all his continued support, Castine was named a Friend of High School Hockey by the Michigan High School Hockey Coaches Association.
"I am honored," he said.