On July 22, Bobbi Auger received the honour of being one of the players from 1991 Team Alberta who was inducted into the Alberta Hockey Hall of Fame at a special ceremony held in Canmore.
For Auger it was an incredible experience, sparking her passion for the game and bringing back many poignant and wonderful memories.
It was a time of reminiscing and sharing.
“The team pre party was Saturday night for us to catch up and share some stories….which we did till wee hours of the morning,” she recalled.
Many of Auger’s relatives, including her parents Dalice and John Auger and aunts and uncles who live in Bluffton attended the event. Auger noted her late grandparents Bob and Alice Auger were her biggest supporters.
“My grandfather never missed a chance to brag me up,” she said.
As well as sharing memories with former teammates, Auger rubbed shoulders with hockey greats including Ron Maclean, whom she described as a very humble and down to earth gentleman.
Other hockey notables she met at the event included Mike Vernon Glen Sather, Grant Fuhr, Jay Bouwmeester( St. Louis Blues) Scott Hartnell and Colin Patterson( former Calgary Flames).
As a young up and coming hockey star, Auger had no future aspirations of being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
She only knew she loved hockey.
Auger was seven-years-old when she first laced up her skates and headed out on the ice in the Alix arena.
That was 1981.
“I was so eager to start, I walked myself to the rink with a black garbage bag and dressed in the bathroom,” she recalled.
Her passion for hockey along with her talent kept her in the game and in 1985 she found herself being the only girl to make the AA team in Grand Centre.
“I played between Grand Centre and Cold Lake,” she said.
During that time, tryout camps were starting up for an all-girls hockey team to represent Alberta as girl’s hockey was to make a debut in the Canadian Winter Games. As Hockey Alberta staff was looking for obvious girl names, (not Bobbi) I was missed in the scouting process.
The family moved to Ponoka in 1989 and Auger played Bantam and midget hockey with the boys teams. During that year she also took part in a tryout camp and was selected for a promo Alberta team in 1990.
In February 1991, The Girls Hockey Team Alberta, Auger included, set off to Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island where they completed in the Canada Winter Games.
“We went 3-1 in the round robin which led us to the semi-final against Ontario. To me, that was the gold medal game as it was our toughest and most tense and exciting. And the final against B.C. which we won 2-1. That was unbelievable.”
Auger scored 10 goals and made three assists in the tournament as well as being selected as the most valuable player four times so it was not surprising she was ranked number one coming out of the tournament individually for the age groups.
With such an impressive track record behind her, the 17-year-old was sought after as a skilled and valuable hockey player. She was asked to play for Team Canada as well as the Concordia UNi and Bonnyville Pontiacs of the AJHA, but she turned the offers down.
When she turned 18 she played with Edmonton Chimos out of Edmonton and a year later joined the Red Deer Bandits. By the time she was 20, Shannon Miller the head coach for Team Canada asked her to play for her club team as well as be part of Team Canada’s women’s program.
In 1995 when Auger was 21, the Team Canada Club Team which also included Hayley Wickenheiser defeated the Edmonton Chimos and represented Alberta at the 1995-96 National Championships, winning a bronze medal.
A week later, Auger was on the rooster for a gold medal winning Team Canada.
Shortly after that Auger hung up her skates, coming back briefly to play for SAIT when she attended trade school.
The 1991 Canada Winter Games in Charlottetown, PEI marked the first year for female hockey in the Games.
Looking back, Auger noted that only 128 girls were registered in minor hockey in Alberta.
Now, she said there are 8,300 female players in Alberta.