NOHA honours Greg Lockeyer with its most prestigious prize

Minor hockey volunteer Greg Lockeyer, of Mindemoya, was awarded the Angus Campbell Merit Award, by the Northern Ontario Hockey Association (NOHA), on Saturday. In photo left is Michael Bridgeman, NOHA District 7 council director, Greg Lockeyer, and Gayle Payette, second vice-president of the NOHA.

SAULT STE. MARIE—Manitoulin hockey volunteer Greg Lockeyer, of Mindemoya, has received a very prestigious award from the Northern Ontario Hockey Association (NOHA).

Mr. Lockeyer was presented with the Angus Campbell Merit Award at the NOHA annual meeting held in Sault Ste. Marie last Saturday. The award is named after the founder of the NOHA, and is “awarded by the NOHA to an individual for outstanding service to the game, other than as a player. Such outstanding service must have been for a period of not less than 10 years continuous duration. This award can be made to any person who has rendered such service to any organized hockey association or member clubs anywhere in the NOHA.”

“Greg has, for a very long time, donated countless hours, energy and commitment, running things for hockey and the people of Manitoulin Island,” said Mike Zegil, president of the Manitoulin Minor Hockey Association (MMHA). “He has been an official since he was a very young lad and has worked for every hockey association on the Island, and has mentored many, many officials.” 

“He’s done so many things and volunteered so many hours and energy to make sure there has been hockey on the Island,” said Mr. Zegil. “And this is a man who also donates his time to organizing baseball tournaments and much more as he is very active in his community.”

“It would be very hard to find someone who has given as much of their time for youth on the Island than Greg Lockeyer,” continued Mr. Zegil. He said when the MMHA looked at all the criteria for the Angus Campbell Merit Award, “when you think of Greg, he checked all of the boxes. He could have received this award twice over.”

Mr. Lockeyer, on being chosen for the award said he was, “certainly honoured and privileged to attend the Northern Ontario Hockey Association annual general meeting in Sault Ste. Marie and receive the highest award presented annually to recognize a person’s dedication to hockey in Northern Ontario. Being the first person from Manitoulin to receive the Angus Campbell Merit Award is truly humbling.”

“And to have my name on an award with past recipients such as Max Silverman, Joe Drago, Ken Creasey and ‘Red’ McCarthy brought tears to my eyes when my good friend Gayle Payette, second vice of the NOHA, gave me the call,” said Mr. Lockeyer. “Huge thank you to everyone at Manitoulin Minor Hockey and all the Island associations for your kind words on the nomination package. I share this award with my mentors, such as my dad (the late Dubs Lockeyer), the late Randy Thibault, Don Prescott, Gayle and Mike Payette along with all the players, coaches, officials and administrators past and present. An award for Manitoulin to share! Thanks to Mike Zegil, president of MMHA for helping Gayle with the presentation. Truly a memorable day.”

“It is quite an accomplishment. This is the top NOHA award that is given out annually,” said Ms. Payette, second vice-president of the NOHA. “The Manitoulin Minor Hockey Association, along with a couple of minor hockey associations, nominated Greg for the award.”

“I have known Greg for many years, and absolutely he is most deserving of this award,” said Ms. Payette. “I forwarded a letter of support to the nomination letter from the MMHA.”

“Manitoulin Minor Hockey would like to nominate Greg Lockeyer for the Angus Campbell award,” wrote MMHA president Mike Zegil, on behalf of the MMHA executive. “When you think hockey on Manitoulin, a few names come to mind. One of them is Greg Lockeyer. With a history spanning 43 years, he has literally done it all. From coach to referee, to district and MMHA referee in chief, to ref assignor to scheduler.”

“Greg coached and was trainer for seven years as his kids went through the (minor hockey) divisions,” wrote Mr. Zegil. “He was the trainer for the Telus Cup winning team (Sudbury Nickel Capital Wolves) in 2008, but being Greg, modest as he can be, he called himself the ‘chief skate sharpener,’ as the portable skate sharpening equipment travelled with the team.”

The MMHA executive letter explains, “Greg has been an on-ice official since he was 13 years-old. That is roughly 40 years as he mentions he took a few years off. The knowledge this man has is astounding, but what is more impressive is his delivery of it. Greg is always calm, cool and collected. No matter if he is on or off the ice. We have sat in meetings where he was verbally attacked, so to speak, and he remained unflappable and presented his opinion in a respectful and relaxed manner. For Manitoulin hockey, Greg is our go-to for any questions about officiating, often at any time day or night. He was the district referee-in-chief for NOHA for five years and was Manitoulin’s MHA referee-in-chief for 10 years.”

“He always presented statistics to show trends, number of games officiated, how many new referees, and how many times they were shadowed by him or one of our other senior referees. He was available to the executive and all his officiating teams and did so much mentoring to the new and young referees. He taught numerous referee clinics for our young officials just starting out. No matter how heated things would get on the ice, there was always a strong presence and a calm demeanor with Greg,” wrote Mr. Zegil.

“Parents, coaches and players would breathe a sigh of relief when Greg skated onto the ice,” wrote Mr. Zegil. “All our Island officials are amazing, but when we know a game may be a bit difficult, we call Greg. Play-offs, we call Greg. We can count on him and know that he is delivering the best officiating that he can.”

“This past year he did the schedule up for us, and with the opening and closing due to the pandemic, he redid it, as he says, ’67 times,’ all volunteer and all on his own time. As he also said, “it’s for the kids and we need to get them out doing something they enjoy.’ Greg didn’t just do the scheduling, he reached out to every association to ask about team sizes so he could put teams together if they were small in numbers and having to call players up,” wrote Mr. Zegil. “He held up schedules if teams were on the brink of getting enough players, which really put the pressure on him as we all know people can sometimes leave things to the last minute. But never a complaint from Greg, he just gave up his own time and got it done.”

Mr. Zegil noted, “What is truly remarkable is that, after 40 years, he continues to make himself available and is always is positive and inspiring concerning hockey on Manitoulin. Even in some not so happy situations that of course arise in any sport, he looks for the positive and how to improve and move on. Having a key person like that involved in hockey is a rare gem.”

Truly, there is no one in hockey on Manitoulin more dedicated than  Greg Lockeyer. Manitoulin knows how fortunate we are to have him.”

Ms. Payette, in her letter of support for Mr. Lockeyer’s nomination wrote in part, “A volunteer commits to minor hockey on behalf of all players, hoping that they are having fun, that they are continuing to develop with skills and teamwork and hoping to instill pride and confidence in our future volunteers so that they will, in turn, give back to the hockey world.”

“Greg Lockeyer has done all of that over the course of many seasons. Greg has maintained the role of local referee-in-chief for Manitoulin Minor Hockey, Mindemoya Minor Hockey, M’Chigeeng Minor Hockey and, recently, for the NOHA for District 7. Greg always demonstrates commitment and integrity while performing his duties to the best of his ability and ensures that all hockey associations have direct interaction with him in his role. Greg diligently completes all duties as required and with great commitment and integrity,” continued Ms. Payette. “Greg communicates openly with all minor hockey associations that he has committed to, and each association knows that they can contact Greg at any time for some guidance and direct resolution to any situations that may have arisen. Greg is always mindful of ensuring all facts are communicated and is direct with any resolutions.”

“Greg also commits to assigning officials for many minor hockey associations. Greg demonstrates a high degree of organization and commitment to ensure that new officials and senior officials have their fair share of assignments based upon availability; and assists new assignors within the local league, as a mentor, to ensure the proper level or capable officials are assigned,” wrote Ms. Payette.

“Communication, commitment, professionalism, and integrity are all strong characteristics that Greg Lockeyer continues to demonstrate,” wrote Ms. Payette. “Greg ensures all officials are treated with respect and is a great role model for upcoming officials and association boards to continue the legacy of ensuring all players, officials, and volunteers are committing to the future of carrying on, with integrity, for the love of the game, for all.”

“Greg Lockeyer is an ideal candidate for the Angus Campbell Merit Award. His commitment, his love of the game, the role that he has committed to fulfilling and his interactions definitely portray outstanding service within the realm of the (NOHA),” adds Ms. Payette.