Johnson named as Max Clunie Memorial Award recipient

LUCAS PUNKARI/DAILY HERALD Aaron Johnson receives the Max Clunie Memorial Award from Rusty Clunie, Kevin Mugford and James Mays at the Kinsmen Arena Saturday night

When Max Clunie passed away with four others following a plane accident in June 2011, family friend Kevin Mugford wanted to help keep his memory alive.

“Having coached him in hockey and with my son Cameron being Max’s best friend, there was an emotional connection that myself and many other people had with Max,” Mugford said.

“He was a special and determined young man, so we wanted to have this annual award to acknowledge his memory and reward someone with the same qualities that he had.”

The award, which goes to a Prince Albert Minor Hockey Midget League player, was handed out for the eighth time on Saturday as Aaron Johnson of the Prince Albert Rangers was given this year’s honour during the Prince Albert Minor Hockey’s annual championship weekend at the Kinsmen Arena.

“I got a call from (Prince Albert Minor Hockey’s) James Mays while I was working at Source for Sports and it was a real honour to find out that I was going to receive this year’s award,” Johnson said. “So many of us love to play the game and there’s a lot of guys that were deserving of the award.”

In addition to the award, which goes to a player who has a love of hockey, a determination to succeed, a focus and fearlessness on the ice and shows team leadership, Johnson also received a $1,000 scholarship towards his post-secondary education.

“I was thinking of going to university but I’m not really sure what I want to do yet, so I don’t want to waste a year of hard work,” Johnson said.

“My plan is to take a year off from schooling and play Junior B here with the Titans before using the scholarship money in 2020 for my schooling.”

Max’s father Rusty helps to choose each year’s winner and is happy to see his son’s memory stay alive with the award.

“There’s a lot of boys that give up on hockey if they don’t make a bantam AA or midget AAA team,” Clunie said.  “It’s great to see so many guys keep at it through their Grade 12 year and the love they show for the game always makes it tough to pick a winner.”