Chilliwack – On Saturday, January 25, prior to their game versus the Prince George Spruce Kings, the Chilliwack Chiefs will honour local First Responders with the annual presentation of the Matthew Hutchinson Memorial Awards. Awards will be presented by Chilliwack Chiefs alumni, with support from the Hutchinson family.
Hutchinson, a volunteer firefighter and hockey player, died tragically in 2016. Since then, the Chilliwack Chiefs have honoured his life and commitment to service by partnering with local first responders to celebrate their own each year.
Award recipients were each nominated by their peers for demonstrating excellence in their field and exceptional community service. This season’s recipients include members of the Chilliwack Fire Department, Ford Mountain Correctional Centre, Ambulance Paramedics of BC, Chilliwack Search & Rescue, and the Chilliwack RCMP.
A paid on-call firefighter with the Chilliwack Fire Department for 38 years, now retired, Bill Higginbottom has dedicated his life in service to the community. Presently an honorary member of Chilliwack FC, Bill coached minor soccer for 20 years and refereed for 30+ years. He has also been a referee for Chilliwack Men’s Rec Soccer, an umpire for Chilliwack Minor Baseball, and has been an active member of the Masters Group at the Chilliwack Curling Club for 15 years. For his dedication to local sports and safety in our community, the Chilliwack Fire Department commends Bill for his extraordinary efforts.
Fred Madden has been a Correctional Officer for over 25 years and has worked at several different correctional centres, including Ford Mountain Correctional Centre where he is presently. He is well respected by both the residents and his peers. Fred is always ready to help and support his team and is looked at as a leader and a mentor. The work Fred does greatly benefits the centre and the community we belong to. His peers would like to thank him for everything he does.
William Bailey has been a dedicated Paramedic in Chilliwack since 1978. He has been teaching paramedicine for almost 30 years, both locally and internationally. Bill has always been quite involved in the community with years of teaching fitness classes at the Y where he has a passion for helping and encouraging people to be their best selves.
Greg Unruh joined Chilliwack Search and Rescue in 1992. He has held many roles on the team, including SAR Manager, HETS (helicopter rescue) leader and he has also been a Rope Rescue instructor, helping to train SAR members from across the province. He has served 20 years on the team’s executive, and is now a Lifetime Member of Chilliwack SAR.
Corporal Valerie Conroy served as the Social Chronic Program Coordinator for the Chilliwack RCMP Detachment from 2011 to 2019, leading and supporting efforts in the community to manage mental health and addiction related issues. In March 2019, Cpl. Conroy was promoted and transferred to Langley.
- Corporal Mike Pfeifer, a product of Chilliwack Minor Hockey, was a part of the Chiefs’ 1995 team that won Chilliwack its first BCJHL championship. Pfeifer is now a corporal with the Upper Fraser Valley RCMP Regional Detachment.
- Constable Darnell Dyck, also began with Chilliwack Minor Hockey, supported the Chilliwack Chiefs as a stick-boy and eventually played for the team, scoring 58 points in 58 games as a member of the Chiefs. Dyck is now a constable with the Burnaby RCMP.
- Kaleb Betts, arguably one of the most physical players in Chiefs history, played on the team that went to the RBC Cup semi-finals in Halifax in 2002. Betts is now with B.C. Corrections.
- Kyle Nason, a former captain of the team, acquired 341 penalty minutes in two seasons as a member of the Chiefs. Nason is now a member of the Chilliwack Fire Department.
- Tyler Burton scored an impressive 30 goals in the 2003-04 season and attained 110 points. Burton is now a member of the North Vancouver Fire Department.
- Steve Van Oosten, a member of the Chiefs in 2002-03, went on to play at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks and later in the ECHL for the Stockton Thunder and for Briancon in France. Van Oosten is now a member of the West Vancouver Fire Department.
- Chris Larsen grew up in Chilliwack Minor Hockey and was a part of the 1994-95 team that won the first-ever league title in Chiefs history. Larsen is now a member of the Kamloops Fire Department.
- Chris Tarkir scored 52 points in 49 games in 2003-04 and later played professional hockey with the Wichita Thunder. Tarkir is now a member of the Seattle Fire Department.
- Cam Janzen and Jason Denham, who served the Chilliwack Chiefs organization as trainers, are both currently with the Correctional Service of Canada. Denham now volunteers for the Chiefs as an off-ice official. Janzen helped to coordinate Chiefs alumni currently serving as first responders for this special event.
Join the Chilliwack Chiefs on Saturday, January 25th at the Chilliwack Coliseum for a special Salute to First Responders featuring the Matthew Hutchinson Memorial Awards, presented by On Side Restoration, before the 7:00pm puck-drop between the Prince George Spruce Kings and your Chilliwack Chiefs. All First Responders will be given $5 admission for this special game. Tickets are on sale now.