ACAC Class of 2017: Joe Voytechek

ACAC Class of 2017:  Joe Voytechek

by ACAC Sports Writer Curtis J. Phillips

In celebration of its 50th season of competition, the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) held its inaugural ACAC Hall of Fame selection and ceremony in 2014 with induction of 50 individuals within the categories of builders and administrators, coaches and student-athletes.

In this the second installment, a total of eight inductees will be named with a Class of 2017 ceremony scheduled for May 13, 2017 in Calgary, Alberta.

Below is the fifth of eight inductee profiles

Coach Category

Joe Voytechek, University of Alberta-Augustana, Men's Hockey

Camrose Lutheran College was founded in 1910 in Camrose, Alberta by Norwegian settlers.

In 1912 a coal town to be named Mountain Park, sprung up in western Alberta at the end of the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway

Mountain Park, which at its peak had 1,500 residents, is now a ghost town having closed in 1950.

The Camrose Lutheran College name would also fade away, changing its title to the University of Alberta-Augustana in 2004.

In 1974-1975 the Camrose Vikings men's hockey team won the inaugural Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) men's hockey championship.

The CCAA abandoned the hockey program in 2001.

Part or all, of these histories, were an integral to the life of Joe Voytechek.

Born in Mountain Park a little over 94 years ago, the still young-at-heart Voytechek began his association with Camrose Lutheran College in the early 1970s' as coach of the men's hockey team.

He would coach the team from 1973-1982 becoming the first to reach the 200 game milestone (217 total) and the second to win 100 (105 total) games.

The highlight was capturing the first-ever CCAA Men's Hockey Championship, defeating the Ontario representative St. Clair Saints 6-2 for the 1974-1975 CCAA Championship Bowl.

The other two teams in the tournament were the St-Laurent College of Montreal, Quebec and the host Cape Breton Capers of Sydney, Nova Scotia.

""We were a young young team," recalls Voytechek, who along with his wife Phyllis, are well-respected in the Camrose district. "Our oldest player was 19 and the rest were 15, 16, 17 or 18. The other teams were much older and much bigger,

"We were the underdogs. But they were young and just breaking in and they never complained. They were gentlemen. I was a motivator and motivation is a great thing. I mentioned the first day of the season that we would be standing on the (CCAA) podium at the end of the year in Nova Scotia. The rest depended on their attitude."

The Vikings, inducted into the Alberta Hockey Hall of Fame in 2009, was the first-ever ACAC team to claim gold status in the CCAA.

According to the U of Augustana Alberta website; "The win on the national stage paved the way for a season played in Europe, and then the inaugural 1981 Viking Cup hockey tournament in Camrose. The small, rural Alberta community hosted teams from across the United States and Europe for 25 years until its final medal ceremony in 2006."

Of his continuing legacy, fellow coaches say: "As a very inexperienced coach coming into the ACAC, I was looking for coaching 'role models'. In Joe, I saw someone whose teams played with speed, skill, intensity and structure but were always disciplined. I knew Joe was a coach I would learn from and I did learn many lessons. The most important thing I learned though was about Joe himself, he had integrity and class, traits I knew I should try to aspire to, " said former NAIT Ooks (14 seasons) men's hockey coach Perry Pearn, who has coached  since 1994 in the National Hockey League;  currently with the Vancouver Canucks.

"I looked up to Joe and tried to emulate his team discipline and intensity.  Once, I was pretty sure that a player directed a 'cuss' word towards me as he returned to the box, so I asked Joe if he had ever experienced something similar.  Joe replied 'If I did all I ever heard was the echo' replied Joe which meant that the player was quickly out the door.  Joe is certainly one who is most deserving (of induction into the ACAC Hall of Fame), " said Allan Ferchuk who coached the Red Deer Kings men's hockey team to three gold and two silver at the CCAA championships.

Voytechek  was also a productive right winger in amateur hockey with the  1947-48 Alberta Provincial Intermediate 'A' champion Camrose Maroons.

"It seems like a 100 years ago that I played for a hell of a few good hockey teams," recalls Voytechek, in regards to the Maroons, Edmonton Canadians and another Junior team in Jasper.

He was also the Recipient of Augustana Alumni Association Citation Award in 1992 and the Alberta Centennial Medal in 2005.