Roy Sakaki and Gord Mackintosh congratulate each other after a game in the Vernon Senior Oldtimers Hockey Harvest Jamboree. (File photo)

Salmon Arm’s Roy Sakaki named Hockey Canada Ambassador

Video celebrates the life and achievements of the Shuswap’s Mr. Hockey

Roy Sakaki had travel on his mind when he learned he’d been nominated as a Hockey Canada Ambassador.

“I didn’t know what the heck that meant,” laughed Sakaki, the Salmon Arm Minor Hockey Association (SAMHA) administrator. “I thought, ‘hey, maybe I’ll get a free trip to Japan or something!’”

A Google search later and Sakaki, who prefers to be working behind the scenes celebrating the accomplishments of others, realized his time in the spotlight was coming.

Sakaki received a call from a Hockey Canada representative who was coming to Salmon Arm to put him on camera.

“So she flew into Kamloops and she stopped by the old rink (Memorial Arena) where I played and took a picture of that, and then she made her way here and timed it when I was playing some Oldtimers Hockey, so she made that part of her deal…,” said Sakaki, who is featured in a Hockey Canada Ambassador video.

Soon after, the lens turned to friends of Sakaki’s – Salmon Arm Mayor Alan Harrison, SAMHA president Tim Giandomenico and business partner Gord Mackintosh, each sharing praise for Salmon Arm’s Mr. Hockey.

“You go around the province and you mention Roy Sakaki – everyone knows Roy Sakaki… he’s Mr. Hockey is what he is,” said Mackintosh.

Asked about the Mr. Hockey title, Sakaki chuckles and is quick to redirect attention to fellow SAMHA staff, as well as volunteers and parents, who step up for the organization.

“We’ve got outstanding people helping… We are just so fortunate that we have really great parents who step up and do all those things we need to do to make the organization run, including the board,” said Sakaki.

Read more: Oldtimers enamoured with hockey

Read more: Minor hockey’s heart and soul

Read more: Salmon Arm First Shift a success

Read more: Totems gone, not forgotten

The video was clearly an emotional experience for Sakaki, who was asked to share a bit about his family history, how his parents immigrated to Canada, how he was the youngest in a family of nine, and how they wound up moving to Kamloops where his career in hockey began.

“When I started playing, I went up the ranks and, about Peewee, my mom and dad… They started coming to the rink and you know, her English wasn’t that good, so when she came to the rink it was really great because she mingled with the other parents and she really felt at ease. And from Peewees on, she never missed a game,” Sakaki explains in the video.

Despite his modest nature, Sakaki said he likes the video. He also appreciates the many kind words he’s received since being named a Hockey Canada Ambassador. Some have come from people he hasn’t seen in years, people he met through coaching or playing hockey, through baseball or during his years as an educator (having retired in 2007 after serving as principal at Parkview Elementary in Sicamous), on whom he left a positive, lasting impression.

“My first school was a two-room school on Mara Lake which is not there now. I had a great group of kids there and there was a couple of kids who responded,” said Sakaki, whose daughters have been sharing all the kind words about him on social media. “They remembered us rebuilding that outdoor rink and playing hockey. We played hockey all afternoon there.”

While he may be somewhat uncomfortable with the title “Mr. Hockey,” Sakaki continues to wear his love for the game on his jersey sleeve.

“I’m still playing hockey, can you believe it? I don’t think I’ve missed a year of hockey for 60-plus years.”


@SalmonArm
newsroom@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Home loss ends season for Sicamous Eagles

A defeat at the hands of the 100 Mile House Wranglers on Feb. 22 was the Eagles’ last outing.

PHOTOS: PeeWee Silverbacks finish season with 22 game win streak

The team has gone undefeated since November last year

Word on the street: What is your favourite pie-related memory?

With the 24th-annual Best of the Shuswap Pie Baking Contest taking place… Continue reading

Fiery collision involving truck closes Highway 1 at Three Valley Gap

Drivers should expect major delays and congestion; estimated time of re-opening is 2 p.m.

VIDEO: 2020 BC Winter Games wrap up in Fort St. John as torch passes to Maple Ridge

More than 1,000 athletes competed in the 2020 BC Winter Games

Still six cases of COVID-19 in B.C. despite reports of Air Canada passenger: ministry

Health ministry wouldn’t comment on specific flight routes

Violent ends to past Indigenous protests haunt Trudeau government

Trudeau adopted a more assertive tone Friday, insisting the barricade must come down

Kelowna Firefighters douse suspicious hedge fire

A 30’ section of cedar hedge burned prompting an RCMP investigation.

Kelowna RCMP make arrest in fatal stabbing of 16-year-old Elijah Beauregard

An 18-year-old woman is in police custody facing a manslughter charge.

HIGHLIGHTS: Day one and two at the 2020 BC Winter Games

Athletes had sunny – but cold – weather to work with in Fort St. John

Most Read