Athlete – Hockey
A native of Whitby, Paul played his minor hockey in the Whitby Minor Hockey Association, including several years as a member of the Whitby Wildcats; it was here that he developed his love of the game and his appreciation for the camaraderie exhibited among teammates.
Each winter during his childhood, Paul would spend endless hours after school skating with his friends and honing his skills on backyard rinks built by his parents. This dedication was rewarded when Paul was drafted, as an underage player, by the Oshawa Generals of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) after his Major Bantam AAA season.
Paul played all four seasons of his OHL career with Oshawa; he soon developed into a team leader and became an assistant captain of the team in the 2003-2004 season. That year, Paul participated in the Canadian Hockey League (CHL) Top Prospects Game, as well as the CHL Canada-Russia Challenge, and the 2004 OHL All-Star Game; he was also nominated for the Max Kaminsky Trophy, an award given to the OHL’s best defenseman each season.
Paul’s dream to play professional hockey came true when he was chosen by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the sixth round of the 2002 National Hockey League (NHL) Entry Draft. Upon the completion of his OHL career in 2004, Paul joined the Springfield Falcons, Tampa Bay’s affiliate in the American Hockey League (AHL), for the 2004-2005 season.
After one season in the AHL, Paul attended Tampa Bay’s training camp in September 2005 and earned a roster spot on the defensive corps of the defending Stanley Cup Champions. In his first year in the NHL, Paul set a record for assists by a Lightning rookie defenseman with 17, and posted a 1.20 points-per-game average in the playoffs. He began to thrive in Tampa Bay and developed into a top young defenseman in the league, evident by his selection to take part in the NHL Young Stars game in January 2007.
After two shoulder surgeries and a sabbatical from the NHL, he resurrected his professional hockey career in 2012-2013 with the Toronto Marlies (AHL), followed by a season with the Toronto Maple Leafs (NHL) and another in the Swiss-A league. While with the Leafs, Paul was nominated for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, awarded annually to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey. He finished his NHL career with 323 games, 24 goals, and 82 assists for a total of 106 points.
Builder – Hockey
Born in North Bay, Ontario in 1941, Mike Primeau spent his childhood in the Ottawa Valley and began his hockey career playing for the Pembroke Little Lumber Kings. He concluded his on-ice career as a member of the Kenora-Keewatin Juvenile team and, after graduating from Blind River High School, Mike moved south to Toronto where he completed a four-year electrical apprenticeship with Ontario Hydro.
It was in Markham that Mike began his long tenure as a coach, scout, and parent volunteer in 1977. Mike coached the first Markham Minor Hockey team to win a tournament outside the province of Ontario before moving his family to Whitby and continuing his coaching career within the Whitby Minor Hockey Association. From 1981 until the late 1990s, many Whitby teams under Mike’s tutelage enjoyed considerable success at the local, regional, and provincial levels; the impressive list of achievements by his Whitby teams includes:
- 1984 OMHA Peewee AA Finalists
- 1985 Minor Bantam AA Silver Stick Champions
- 1985 OMHA Minor Bantam AA Champions
- 1986 OMHA Minor Bantam AA Champions
- 1991 OMHA and OHF Bantam AA Champions
- 1993 OMHA Atom AAA Finalists
- 1996 OMHA Midget AAA Champions
Mike’s coaching career spanned a period of 21 years, and included teams from Novice house league to the Midget AAA level. Seven of his former players went on to have great success in the National Hockey League (NHL), including his sons, Keith and Wayne, as well as Adam Foote, Paul Ranger, Jay Harrison, Jamie Allison, and Brad May; countless others continued their hockey careers in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) or at the collegiate level in Canada and the United States.
As further testament to his overall influence and commitment to hockey in Whitby, Mike was instrumental in establishing the Whitby Fury Junior A franchise in 2008, and served as team president for its first two seasons. Mike also spent eight years as a hockey scout, beginning with the Niagara Falls Thunder of the OHL (1989-1990) before holding similar roles with the OHL’s Owen Sound Platers (1992-1995) and the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes (1996-1999).
Mike, and his wife Peggy, now spend evenings and weekends watching their grandchildren play various sports. But, as their grandchildren will all say, Poppie is still a coach, always offering words of encouragement and advice after a game.
Athlete – Lacrosse
A native of Brooklin, Ontario, Jennifer Johnson developed an abiding passion for her sport at a very young age and began her career playing box lacrosse in the Whitby Minor Lacrosse Association. She subsequently made the transition to field lacrosse at the high school level, where she led Anderson Collegiate Vocational Institute to three consecutive regional titles.
Jen’s field lacrosse career continued while she earned her degree in kinesiology from Penn State University. During her four seasons at Penn State, Johnson led the Nittany Lions in scoring with 73 points in her junior year (1998) and 70 points in her senior year (1999); in these same seasons, Jen recorded team highs of 49 and 47 goals respectively. She finished her career at Penn State ranked among the school’s all-time top 10 players in goals scored (136), assists (64), and total points (200).
As a senior, Jen received first-team All-America honours after leading the Nittany Lions to a record of 15-5 and a trip to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Tournament, where the team advanced to the semi-final round. She also earned third-team honours as a sophomore (1997) and second-team honours the following year, and was also recognized as a first-team regional All-America selection in three consecutive years. Johnson did not miss a game in her four years at Penn State, and she concluded her stellar collegiate career with an invitation to participate in the prestigious North/South All-Star game in May 1999.
Johnson also enjoyed considerable success on the international stage, representing Canada in several competitions from 1995 to 2005. Jen was a co-captain of the Canadian Under-19 National Team that finished fourth in the 1995 World Cup, and was a key contributor on the Canadian Women’s Lacrosse National Teams that finished fourth in both the 2001 and 2005 World Cups; Jen was third in tournament scoring in 2001 and was the only Canadian named to the 12-player All-World Team after the 2005 competition.
Upon her retirement as a player, Jen moved to the coaching ranks, working as an assistant at Penn State and Cornell before accepting the position of head coach at the University of Vermont. During her 12 seasons leading the Catamounts, Jen became the winningest coach in school history with 89 wins, and was named America East Coach of the Year in 2008.