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Leafs, Rebels players earn Neil Murdoch bursary awards

Ethan McLaughlin of the Nelson Leafs said the bursary will assist with his Business Management at Adrian College in Michigan. — Submitted

by Emanuel Sequeira, KIJHL Director of Communications

The Kootenay International Junior Hockey League has selected 13 student-athletes and one game official who competed during the 2020-21 season to receive league bursaries, including three from the Neil Murdoch Division.

Each bursary is valued at $1,000 and will be applied towards post secondary studies.

The recipients, including Neil Murdoch players Ethan McLaughlin of the Nelson Leafs and Colby Winia and Josh Wiens of the Castlegar Rebels, were chosen from a large field of applicants based on academic achievement, sportsmanship, hockey participation and/or quality of contribution as well as community participation and service.

Ethan McLaughlin - Nelson Leafs

The Penticton Secondary School grad spent two seasons in the league with the Summerland Steam and Leafs. McLaughlin says receiving the bursary means a lot.

“It shows they have faith in me and are willing to help me continue my hockey career, as well as pursue my education,” says McLaughlin, who will study Business Management at Adrian College in Michigan. 

The initiatives that McLaughlin has helped in communities includes bowling with Special Needs Port Alberni Bulldogs fans, Salmon Arm Silverbacks as a minor hockey instructor, he helped pile up sandbags during an Okanagan flood season, as well as being an on-ice instructor for Penticton Minor Hockey and helped with a Penticton triathlon.

McLaughlin’s time in the KIJHL helped him developlife-long friendships, and gave him the opportunity to attend Adrian college.

Josh Wiens of the Castlegar Rebels spent three seasons with the Sunflower City franchise and was a two-time team MVP. 

Josh Wiens - Castlegar Rebels

The graduate of Virden Collegiate Institute is also attending Briercrest College to study Kinesiology.

Wiens says it’s “huge” to receive a league bursary. He loved his time in the league because of the mountains. Growing up in the prairies in Oak Lake, Man., there was a lot he could do.

“I met some really good players that I still talk to a lot of,” he says. “We keep in touch with most of them and it's cool to still be able to do that.”

Playing in the KIJHL gave Wiens the opportunity to really get involved with the Castlegar community. 

“It’s something that I like to do. We got to do things with schools, working with Special Olympics,” he says. “What we were asked to do was always fun. I think it was cool to meet some of the people in the community. All the billet families, the people, the memories.” 

Wiens spent three seasons with the Rebels and was a two-time team MVP. Since 2013, Winia has given back to his communities in many ways, including helping with meals on wheels to senior homes, helped build compost boxes for the Town of Oak Lake, community sandbagging initiatives, serving food at seniors homes and working with Special Olympics ringette.

Colby Winia - Castlegar Rebels

A graduate of Peace Wapiti Academy in Grande Prairie, Winia is attending Vancouver Island University and will play for the Mariners. While at VIU, Winia will work towards earning a bachelors of Business Administration and major in accounting.

Winia spent four seasons in the league, starting with the Columbia Valley Rockies, then the final three seasons with the Rebels. He was named the Rebels Most Improved Player in 2018-19. He gave back to the Castlegar community by helping with the Terry Fox Run, school visits/reading to kids, skating with children and playing floor hockey with members of Special Olympics.

Winia’s coach Carter Duffin says he has a “devoted work ethic, exceptional attitude and leadership abilities.”