Skene earns 2018 Max Clunie award

Ty Skene, left, and Rusty Clunie pose for a photo after Clunie awarded Skene with the annual Max Clunie award, which honours the late Max Clunie, who died in a plane crash in 2015. The P.A. Minor Hockey Association gave Skene the award on March 25, 2018 at P.A.’s Kinsmen arena. -- Evan Radford/Daily Herald

An aspiring engineer on his way to the University of Saskatchewan has been given this year’s Max Clunie Award by the Prince Albert Minor Hockey Association.

Prior to the start of a peewee game at the city’s Kinsmen Arena on Sunday, March 25, P.A. Minor Hockey members gave Ty Skene the award, which honours the late Max Clunie, who died in a plane crash in 2011 in northern Saskatchewan.

Max was 15 years old at the time.

“What stood out very quickly with Ty is his leadership,” Max’s father, Rusty said.

The award is given out annually to a Midget House League player chosen from a group of nominees by Rusty, former P.A. Minor Hockey coach Kevin Mugford and technical director James Mays.

The elder Clunie also added that his wife and daughters have a hand in picking out each year’s recipient.

Part of the award is a $1,000 scholarship that the recipient uses for education costs.

Skene says he’ll be using his award to cover tuition and book costs at the U of S College of Engineering, come September.

Max’s father further elaborated on selecting Skene.

“His drive and his tenacity to play the game, and that was our son Max.

“You can read into Ty, which others have had, but I would say this one time (he was) just a step above the rest ns that passion for the other man,” he explained.

“My son had another side to him that no one knew, which is he was always there for the underdog and the next guy as much as he was a competitor and deemed tough guy, or tenacious player.

“So when I’m reading about someone who replicates those things, certainly Ty did that.”

Along with his passion for hockey and engineering, Skene’s also a cowboy.

And he’s a student of hockey, too: He works as a hockey official; recently he refereed the final gold medal game at this year’s Sask. Winter Games in the Battlefords.

“When James (Mays) phoned me, I was over-the-moon excited,” Skene said of learning of his selection for the award.

“Everyone knows about the Max Clunie award at the end of the year. And for me to be recognized by my coaches and fellow players, it was really exciting for me,” he said.

“It was kind of a tear-jerker moment, because Max has left behind such a legacy that everyone still knows and talks about. He’s very much a part of this community.”

Mugford and Mays explained that the motivation for giving the award to Midget House League players is to recognize the achievements of those who may not succeed in Midget AA or AAA levels, but who still show exemplary leadership qualities in a team setting.

“Lots of times you’ll get the guys who tried out and never made it, and figure Midget House is in the toilet bowl and they aren’t going anywhere in life,” Skene said.

“I love my years playing Midget House; I always played with a great group of guys, and it’s just been awesome to play with them … playing House League, your career’s not over. Lots of guys go on to play junior B or senior teams. It’s just an awesome league to be in.”

The 2017-18 season was Skene’s third and final year in the league.

At the conclusion of speaking with the Daily Herald on Sunday, he had a few words for younger hockey players, who may get some tough news that they’ve been cut from a AA or AAA team.

“Hockey’s not everything. I played lots of sports. And as much as I love hockey, it’s not going to determine the rest of your life if you don’t make that elite-level team.

“I know lots of skilled guys that chose to not play AA or AAA, just because they want to have a good time and play with their friends in Midget House.

“It’s a good hockey league to paly in.”