Northern Ontario Hockey Association honours veteran volunteers

Bob Dumond, left in photo, was presented with the Most Deserving Official award by Gayle Payette.

Most Deserving Official and Ken Neeb awards go to Gore Bay men

GORE BAY – Two Gore Bay men who have made huge contributions to local hockey over the years have been recognized with awards by the Northern Ontario Hockey Association (NOHA).

“It is awesome to get the chance to recognize these two fantastic individuals who have contributed so much to local hockey,” stated Mike Zegil, president of the Manitoulin Minor Hockey Association (MMHA) last week, at a special Northern Ontario Hockey Association (NOHA) awards ceremony held in Gore Bay. Rob Dearing was presented with the Ken Neeb Memorial Award and the Most Deserving Official Award was presented to Bob Dumond.

“Tonight Rob Dearing is being presented with the Ken Neeb Memorial Award which is presented to individuals, other than athletes, who have made an outstanding contribution to minor hockey in Northern Ontario,” said Mr. Zegil. “The only other time this has been presented to someone on Manitoulin Island was to Randy Thibault in 2003.”

“The NOHA Most Deserving Official Award is being presented to Bob Dumond,” said Mr. Zegil. “The last time someone locally won this award was John McFarlane of Mindemoya in 2002. On behalf of the MMHA we congratulate both of you.”

Greg Lockeyer, NOHA district referee-in-chief said, “thank you to all those who took the time to put these festivities together for tonight to honour these two fine young gentlemen. In 2003, I had the honour to put together the nomination package for Randy Thibault and his successful receipt of the NOHA Ken Neeb Memorial Award for his outstanding dedication to minor hockey. Thank you to those from Gore Bay who took the lead this year in putting together Rob’s nomination. I have no doubt, Rob, that Randy (Thibault) is looking down upon you, right now, and is very proud of his protégé.” 

“I got to know Rob throughout the years as long as he was a coach of one of the two teams playing and I was the referee on the third team. While we may not have always agreed on things, I do believe we always had the utmost respect for our positions within the game,” continued Mr. Lockeyer.

“During the past few years, I had the privilege of working with Rob on the executive of Manitoulin Minor Hockey as he had stepped up to take on the role of president,” continued Mr. Lockeyer. “I truly believe that Rob got a much better understanding and appreciation for the work involved to not only run a local hockey association but was involved to make it work for all associations on Manitoulin.”

“I thank not only you Rob, but also your wife, Shauna, for her dedication to the community and her support of your endeavours,” said Mr. Lockeyer. “As well, to your other big supporter, Terri-Lynn (Leighton), for all her work alongside you. I admire all the work your families have done and I think we both share mutual admiration for what has been accomplished in each of our communities. Congrats, Rob on this recognition that is long overdue.”

Rob Dearing, left in photo, was presented with the Ken Neeb Memorial Award by Gayle Payette.

“Bob Dumond and I have known each other for about 25 years, starting when our kids began to play hockey in exhibition games at the Mites/Mickey Mouse level,” said Mr. Lockeyer. “Bob was helping coach Gore Bay. I was coaching in Mindemoya. We always had mutual respect for each other’s teams and our games throughout the years were always close. During the years, our boys (Jarrod and Justin) played against each other and then became teammates at the Panther level for a few years. It is here where our friendship really began to develop as we did lots of travelling together for practices, game and tournaments.”

“Bob has been a referee mentor of mine and for many across the Island and District 7 for many, many years,” continued Mr. Lockeyer. “He and Jason (Thibault) were always looked upon as our senior officials who brought their guidance and leadership from their higher level of officiating to us all.”

“While hockey teams develop team spirit and cohesiveness, so do we as officials as we are the third team. Fond memories of working tough games, sharing hours at the Hot Stove Lounge at Jason’s after doing a high school game in L.C., instructing clinics or teaching younger officials, I have always thoroughly enjoyed my time working with Bob,” said Mr. Lockeyer. 

“Bob never turned away from a tough assignment and was always willing to do higher rep level games in Blind River and Elliot Lake,” said Mr. Lockeyer.

“I thank you Maureen for being an understanding person behind Bob’s dedication to officiating. And also, for tagging along with Bob, sitting alone during those games in that cold Elliot Lake arena eating your popcorn,” said Mr. Lockeyer.

“I really enjoyed the Facebook spread that advertised tonight’s function. The proud Gore Bay Bruin logo displayed in the black and gold striped colours. I truly wish our good friend Ron Cooper of Manitowaning was here tonight. A competitive coach, just like Rob, I have no doubt Ron would have referenced the Facebook ad, stood up and said, ‘Dumond, I knew as a referee you never wore black and white stripes but you wore black and gold stripes!’”

“Bob, this award is greatly overdue,” said Mr. Lockeyer. “Your dedication to the officiating team has finally been acknowledged. You have been an inspiration to all of us not only on Manitoulin but all of District 7. Thank you on behalf of all officials, players, parents and administrators for your dedication to our wonderful game.”

“First off I want to congratulate Bob, you are really deserving of your award,” said (fellow referee) Jack Clark, who said Mr. Dumond would have made a tremendous coach, but was a greater benefit to hockey as a referee. “Bob is a great skater, always in position and understands the game and the rules. He has a great rapport with coaches and players.”

Mr. Clark said that no matter what level of hockey game he was officiating he treated the teams and game with the same respect, and realized each game was important to the players, fans and coaches.

“I wish you all the best in your next 15 years as a referee and congratulate you for being the recipient of this award.” 

“My father Randy and I had the pleasure of working with both Rob and Bob,” said Jason Thibault. “They both have a love for the game and to make it better for everyone.”

“Rob is very deserving of this award and he and my father worked close over the years,” said Mr. Thibault. “Rob is an excellent volunteer and most deserving of this award, and my dad would have been proud of his accomplishments. Congratulations on your contributions in over 20 years in hockey.” 

Ms. Leighton said, “it has been an honour to work with Rob over many years. I’m very happy he has been presented with the Ken Neeb Award. Randy would be looking down and smiling at seeing how outstanding a volunteer you have been and the outstanding commitment you have made to minor hockey.” 

Gayle Payette, third vice-president of the NOHA said, “good evening everyone. Imagine being involved in a game where the benefits outweigh the negatives, where everyone comes together as a hockey community to ensure that each and every player that wants to be involved in this amazing sport, is involved, that they have an important role to play and that everyone does their best to ensure the integrity of the game is promoted on and off the ice. I am very honoured to be here tonight on behalf of the (NOHA).”

“Tonight is a great celebration of what hockey is, demonstrating the commitment and passion required to fully sustain meaningful opportunities for all involved in the game,” said Ms. Payette. 

The NOHA presents four awards each year, and the NOHA selection committee reviews the nominations based upon cited criteria and the content of each submission. One of these is the Ken Neeb Award. “The award was established in 1975 in memory of the late Ken Neeb, NOHA convenor for the Noranda district. Ken was a great promoter of minor hockey and was one of the founding members of the Kiwanis PeeWee Hockey tournament, held annually in Noranda,” explained Ms. Payette. 

“In 2003, another member of this local hockey organization was the recipient of this same award, Mr. Randy Thibault. Therefore, it is with great pleasure to announce that the same award is being awarded to another local influential hockey ambassador,” said Ms.  Payette. “I have had the pleasure of observing from the sidelines, as this individual, committed to his many hockey roles with a high degree of integrity for the benefit of all players. There were some rough patches throughout and Mr. DeAring worked collaboratively with all associations to ensure property decisions were made and followed through with.” 

“The day that Mr. Dearing was informed about his award, he was totally surprised and caught off guard, I could hear his smile over the phone!” stated Ms. Payette. “Shauna and family, please know that you are appreciated as well, for sharing Rob for the benefit of local hockey. According to the nomination submission, Mr. Dearing clearly goes above and beyond to continually make an outstanding contribution to minor hockey. It is my great pleasure to present the Ken Neeb Memorial Award with congratulations from the NOHA board of directors to Robert Dearing.”

The NOHA has four officiating awards they hand out every year, said Ms. Payette. “The recipient of the Most Deserving Official Award, in my humble opinion, is long overdue.  Bob Dumond has been involved in officiating for many seasons, his commitment to the integrity of the game, rule knowledge, player interactions, mentorship and many more aspects is to be commended.”

“There were times Mike Payette was referee-in-chief, that I thought he was spending more time with Bob on the phone than he needed to be,” continued Ms. Payette. “Bob has always been fully committed, he has been a co-instructor at referee clinics, he has completed numerous supervisions over the seasons, has served on the Manitoulin Minor Hockey Discipline Committee and has a great rapport on and off the ice with players and coaches.”

“Bob has been a great role model for his sons, as they were both officials, and Cole continues to be very active and accomplished in his role as an official as well,” said Ms. Payette. “I want to thank Maureen  for sharing Bob and her sons with the game of hockey for the benefit of all players. I know that there are times, Maureen, when you may think, enough is enough, however, when people such as Bob are involved, committed to the extent that he is, you should always know, that you are appreciated as well because Bob, the guy in the stripes, has brought much more to the game of hockey.”

“The day that Bob was notified of being selected for this award I could hear the surprise in his voice. As you may or may not know, Bob can be quite humble and I had to explain why he was selected for the award,” continued Ms. Payette. 

The Most Deserving Official Award is presented to an official that has played a key role in the officiating program within their district; someone who would be sorely missed if they were no longer involved, a supervisor who is always willing to go out and supervisor younger officials, or a person who has assisted with the assigning, instruction, and administration,” said Ms. Payette. “On behalf of the NOHA and with their congratulations, it is my honour to present the most deserving official award to Bob Dumond.”

Nick Lane, president of the Western Manitoulin Minor Hockey Association (WMMHA), said it is dedicated officials like Mr. Dumond that make the game possible for everyone. “Don’t hang up your skates,” said. “And Rob has done it all, thank you for your leadership and dedication in making hockey better for all of us. On behalf of WWMHA executive, congratulations to both of you.”