The passion of a hockey family is one of the greatest qualities in sports. At the 2008 Republican National Convention, Vice-Presidential nominee Sarah Palin said, “You know, they say the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull? Lipstick.” That statement is completely unfair to pit bulls, who tend to be more rational and level-headed during games. Hockey dads are known to incessantly pound on the glass and yell instructions during play despite the fact no one on the ice can actually hear them. Maybe this is because the level of commitment is so unique.
In the beginning, you are indispensable, carrying the bag, helping put on equipment, and tying skates. Eventually, you are needed just to tie skates, then solely to provide transportation. Eventually, you just show up at game time. The hours are usually ridiculous: early mornings, nights, and weekends. Countless hours are spent standing in cold rinks and thousands of miles spent driving to practices, games, and tournaments. You love every minute of it.
It doesn't matter where or when your child hits the ice, the goal of a hockey parent is to be there. Exhibit A: Meet Wes Stankoven.
During the past month, Wes has been non-stop on the road to watch his son perform. First to the World Junior Championships in Edmonton, where Logan was a top player on Canada’s gold medal team. Then, to Traverse City, Michigan for the NHL Prospect Tournament. From there, he made the trip south to Dallas, a rental car drive down to Cedar Park for Stars training camp, and then back to Dallas for an exhibition game before finally returning to Kamloops, the Stankoven home. In all, nearly 6,500 miles have been spent touring North America, and lots of time to reminisce about the years gone by.
“Ever since he was a little kid, he wanted to play. Logan picked up the mini sticks, then road hockey. We got him skating at 4 or 5,” said the elder Stankoven. “He’s a really competitive kid, hates to lose, and loves the game. It’s been really fun over the years.”
On Tuesday night, as the Stars prepared to play St. Louis, the entire Stankoven clan was pressed against the rink-side glass. Wes was taking pictures on his iPhone while wife, Deana, and daughter Macie, a high school sophomore, nervously awaited puck drop. Hockey isn’t just a game, it’s a bonding experience.
“It’s quite a surreal moment for our family. Super proud. Couldn’t be happier for Logan and the entire family. It’s a great experience, really a once in a lifetime,” beamed Wes.
In this sport, there are two families, your blood relations and your hockey family. Escorting the Stankovens around town is Wayne Anchikovski who migrated to Dallas in 1992 to play minor league hockey in the old Central Hockey League for the Dallas Freeze. Wes and Wayne grew up and played youth hockey together in Enderby, British Columbia where they were coached by Gus Stankoven, Logan’s grandfather, a connection that has lasted four decades.
“It was an exciting night anytime a small-town kid makes their dream come true. I was actually nervous the whole day. It was almost like Logan is one of my own kids,” proclaimed Anchikovski.
The Stars didn’t win and Stankoven didn’t score. Playing on a line with Stars Captain Jamie Benn and 2021 First-round pick Wyatt Johnston, the product of Kamloops showed why he is a top prospect in the system and will eventually call the NHL home. As for his father, Wes knows whatever path this year may take, it is filled with great possibilities for his son.
“If he can make the Dallas Stars that would be awesome. At the same time, if he goes back to Kamloops that’s okay too. Hockey is not a race. To go back and defend the World Junior Championship and then play for the Memorial Cup at home would be a great experience as well.”
One day, Logan Stankoven attending Stars training camp will be a routine part of the job. For this one moment in time, a proud hockey dad and his family are going to cheer every accomplishment and enjoy the ride for every second they can.