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For Immediate Release

May 16, 2024

Saanichton, B.C. - Penelope Johnson of the Northern Capitals has been named the first recipient of the British Columbia Elite Hockey League’s Commissioner’s Award.

Raised in Gitanmaax, B.C., at age 11 Penelope and her family moved to Prince George to provide her and her five siblings the opportunity to enhance their education. Once in Prince George, Penelope found success in the classroom, and that continues through to today as a student at Prince George Secondary School. Her dedication to her studies saw her earn a place on the Honour Roll. She also twice received Excellence in Personal Achievement awards, which focused on a student's work habits, attendance and being a solid citizen.

Her older sister, Mercedes Spooner, inspired Penelope to take up the sport of hockey. She started off her hockey career playing with Hazelton Minor Hockey Association (MHA) at the age of four, and then began to play female hockey when she arrived in Prince George with the Coyotes Development Team. During her time in Prince George, she has continued to excel in the sport and has become a pivotal figure on the ice for the Capitals over the last two seasons.

"Penelope embodies the spirit and values this award represents: unconditional leadership, involvement, and integrity," BCEHL Commissioner Fred Zweep said. "She is an outstanding role model, and we are proud to have her be the first-ever recipient of the BCEHL’s Commissioner’s Award." 

Penelope has also been active in the community, providing youth mentorship as a part of her high school’s reading program. She has also spent her summer months as a peer leader at a youth camp in Hazelton. In the fall and winter, she has spent many hours coaching at development camps with Prince George MHA, and at jamborees. Penelope has become a role model for kids in both Gitanmaax and Prince George.  

"Penelope was an outstanding leader for our team this season," 2023-24 Northern Capitals Head Coach Mike MacKay said. "She always led by example on the ice, and away from the rink was always there for her teammates. She has a great attitude and was an absolute pleasure to coach".

Next year, Penelope is set to attend Red Deer Polytechnic where she will pursue an education degree and play hockey for the Queens. Her goal, post-university, is to return to Gitanmaax as a teacher, both in the classroom and on the ice, aiming to ensure that local children can achieve their educational and athletic goals without leaving home.  

Penelope has shown that her commitment extends beyond personal achievements, aiming to empower youth through sport and education both now and in the future.

The Commissioner’s Award celebrates a BCEHL athlete who profoundly impacts their community and shows exemplary leadership on-and-off the ice.  

There were three deserving finalists for the Commissioner’s Award, and we would like to take a moment to recognize them and their accomplishments.  


James Eagle - Vancouver North East Chiefs U18 AAA

Vancouver North East Chiefs forward James Eagle's commitment was evident both on-and-off the ice. A constant at all Chiefs' practices and games, the Port Coquitlam MHA product graduated high school a year early, which allowed him to give back to his community. James helped shape the next generation of hockey stars by running "Learn to Skate" programs with the City of Port Coquitlam. James will attend Simon Fraser University in September. 


Khayam Siah - Vancouver Island Royals U17 AAA

Khayam Siah displayed dedication to academics, his community, and on the ice as a member of the Vancouver Island Royals. The Campbell River native had a perfect attendance rate at school and consistently met deadlines, while never missing a game, practice or dryland session with his Royals' squad. Away from the Royals, Khayam stayed busy by waking up at 5:00 a.m. three times per week to help coach at the U15 level with Campbell River MHA. Khayam will continue his educational endeavours at the University of Toronto.  


Kate Steele - Vancouver Island Seals Female U18 AAA

Vancouver Island Seals' captain Kate Steele dealt with adversity after suffering a season-ending injury in January. Although she couldn't be on the ice with her teammates, Kate found ways to be a leader and stay involved with the team. The Campbell River MHA alumnus constantly gave back to her community, as she coached power skating sessions at the U9 level, officiated volleyball at her high school, and helped out with girls' hockey camps when time allowed. In the fall, Kate plans to enroll in the University of Alberta's Science Program.