Fort St. John Huskies home games will sound quite a bit different this season, as longtime announcer Joe Stevens is moving from Fort St. John and vacating the booth for the first time since the start of the 1995-96 season. In honour of the voice of the Huskies, the team held a ceremony for Stevens on Friday night, August 27, before their first skate of the 2021 training camp.
"There aren't many words that can describe Joe's commitment to the team — a quarter of a century on the call, the voice of an angel — it will be very hard to fill your shoes and I don't think we'll ever be able to fill your shoes. On behalf of the Huskies organization, thank you for your years of contribution," team president Mike Bacso said to Stevens during the ceremony.
Bacso presented Stevens with the President's Award, as well as a jersey with "Stevens" and the number 26 on the back in honour of the number of seasons he called games full-time.
"Thanks guys. I hope you get to go out on the ice this year, have a fantastic season. There are so many guys I've announced over the years, I've got to know some of you in the penalty box. Have a hell of a season, and bring home another trophy for the boys," Stevens told the team, before giving one more shout of, “Alright Fort St. John, it's just about time for your Fort St John Huskies!" as the team cheered and skated out onto the ice.
Stevens first moved to Fort St. John in 1983, and would occasionally announce Huskies and Flyers games and give game repots on the radio before calling games full-time in 1995. He said moving back to the Moncton, New Brunswick-area where he is from is bittersweet and he wishes he could be in two places at once. Over the years he saw the team go from the Rocky Mountain Junior Hockey League, to the Peace Cariboo Junior Hockey League, and back to the Northwest Junior Hockey League. Coaches in that time span were George Cochrane, Gary Alexander, and now Todd Alexander, to name a few, and he was around when players like Dody Wood and Mark Hartigan played for the Huskies.
Huskies coach Todd Alexander is grateful for the time Stevens spent with the team and is wishing him the best going forward.
"Joe Stevens has done a good job for us over the years. Many players will always remember Joe, he was a staple around the organization, a good, positive one to have for us locally, and wherever he goes he'll do well," said Alexander.
When asked why he kept calling games for so long, Stevens said it was all because of the community.
"It's the community of Fort St. John, the generosity of the people into sports and their community," Stevens said.
Stevens was very grateful for the recognition from the team, saying that's not why he called the games but that it's nice when people do recognize all the time and hard work he's put in.
Stevens said he will continue to follow the team's success on Facebook this season, and while he wishes he got to see the team win a championship one more time, the Huskies did win the last official game that he called.
"I guess I'm still going out a winner that way," Stevens said.
Email sports reporter Dillon Giancola at firstname.lastname@example.org