Dave 'Tiger' Williams entertains crowd at Neepawa Sports Dinner


By: Lanny Stewart and Ken Waddell


Approximately 300 people attended the fifth annual Neepawa Sports Dinner, which took place Saturday night at the Yellowhead Centre.

Former NHLer Dave 'Tiger' Williams was the keynote speaker, entertaining the crowd during his time on stage, as he spoke about some of the highlights of his career, which spanned 14 seasons in the pros. He also chimed in on a hot topic as of late: fighting in hockey.

Drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the second round of the 1974 NHL Draft, Williams, from Weyburn Sask., was known for his feisty play, as the forward accumulated more than 3,500 penalty minutes during his career. He believes there will always be fisticuffs in the game, but is concerned as to where the game is headed.

"Why has hockey changed? There's less respect now than when I played," he said. "Now you have 20 guys on the team. What does the 20th guy do? He's paid to cause trouble, to throw the other team off their game. Take that guy off every team and there would be less trouble. What is there, 30 teams now (in the NHL) and every team has has that 20th guy."

The event also included comedian Tim Nutt, who has had a lengthy career in the industry, including stops at the Just For Laughs in Montreal and Toronto.

"Tim [Nutt] was hilarious," said Amanda Novak, leisure services manager for the Town of Neepawa. "His humour and wit is what has made him a huge success all over north America."

Meanwhile, there were a couple of noteworthy awards that were handed out at the dinner as well. The first ever Local Recognition award -- which was added by the sports dinner organizers to recognize outstanding achievement by Neepawa area athletes who have achieved a superior level of excellence -- was given to local hockey player Halli Krzyzaniak.

The 18-year-old blueliner was unable to attend the dinner as she is currently in the midst of her first season with the University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux women's hockey program.

Local sports enthusiast Kaiten Critchlow presented the award at the event and has known Krzyzaniak for years. He vividly remembers swimming laps with her in high school as part of the Neepawa Blue Dolphins swim team.

"She has proven herself to be one of the top under-20 female hockey players in the world today," he said during his speech at the event. "She is on course to become one of the best female hockey players of any age, anywhere on the globe."

Krzyzaniak was a member of Team Manitobaʼs under-18 team for three years (from 2010 to 2012). In her last season with the team, she was named the teamʼs captain and led the club to a second place finish at the under-18 nationals where she wound up being named the tournament's top defenceman and MVP.

She would later be named to the Team Canada roster for the under-18 world championships and has since become a two-time world champion, helping lead her team win back-to-back gold medals in 2011 and 2012. Krzyzaniak wound up being named a tourney all-star in 2012 and was also selected as the top blueliner at the event.

Another winner during the event was Keith Jordan, who was named the recipient of the Outstanding Dedication to Sports and Recreation award.

Jordan has spent a lot of his time refereeing a plethora of hockey games over the years in the area. He also recruits, teaches and mentors young referees, as well as help out with the Neepawa Natives Booster Club program at home games.

In photo: Tiger Williams with the Neepawa Tigers high school hockey team at the Neepawa Sports Dinner on Saturday. Members of the Tigers helped at the banquet by clearing tables and met and traded hockey stories with Williams, who was a keynote speaker. Bottom: Keith Jordan and two of his grandsons Brant Young, who plays with Neepawa Bantam Hawks and Landon Young, who follows in his grandpa's footsteps by refereeing minor hockey. Jordan won the Outstanding Dedication to Sports and Recreation award at the dinner.

Photos by Ken and Christine Waddell