Chemainus’ answer to Scotty Bowman has added one more significant honour to his lengthy list of achievements as a hockey coach.
Jack Rochon, 74, was among the inductees into the North Cowichan-Duncan Sports Wall of Fame during a ceremony Saturday night at the Cowichan Golf and Country Club in Duncan. Joining him in the Class of 2017 are: archer Shona (Armand) Shadlock, hockey player Mat Ellison, football player Gerry Hornett (posthumously) and golf and soccer coach and athlete Glen Martin.
Rochon’s style of coaching during his heyday was reminiscent of the way the legendary Bowman conducted himself throughout a long National Hockey League tenure. Rochon demanded a lot from the players he coached on Fuller Lake and Cowichan Valley rep hockey teams and the results speak volumes about how he brought out the best in them.
The right combination of discipline, skill development and focus worked wonders for his players, some of whom he coached for several years.
“We were the luckiest kids with two, three or four years with Jack,” said Pat Hodgins, who became a high-scoring player in the B.C. Hockey League for many years after spending his formative years under Rochon’s tenure.
“It’s not just playing the game, it’s developing an attitude – a positive attitude,” noted Rochon.
Part of that, he insisted, was always to respect the opposition.
The talent Rochon developed during his time as a coach put Cowichan Valley hockey on the map. Doug Bodger and Robin Bawa went on to the NHL while many others enjoyed illustrious college or junior careers.
All of that happened because Rochon was at the helm and knew how to harness their abilities.
“I still cherish all the memories I had as a 12-year-old,” said Jamie Duncan, another of his former players.
Rochon coached Cowichan Valley Peewee teams to back-to-back Provincial Tier I titles in the early 1980s. The CKAY Peewee Capitals won one of those titles before a capacity crowd on home ice in Duncan.
“It was mind-boggling to see 1,500 people at a Peewee hockey game,” Rochon recalled.
There were many other factors that contributed to the success of the teams he coached.
“You can’t have a winning team unless you have the parents’ involvement in a positive manner,” said Rochon.
He also believed players always needed a challenge.
“We played the toughest teams possible to get to the next level,” Rochon confided.
That meant taking on the giants of the time at the private clubs – North Shore Winter Club and Burnaby Winter Club.
“When I hear people say, we can’t beat the North Shore Winter Club, I say, crap, we can and we did.
“We had to play them to get better. It was a lot of work and it was worthwhile.”
Rochon once won a B.C. Attorney General’s Award for fostering sportsmanship in hockey in B.C. He also stayed involved in hockey as a scout at one time for the New Westminster Bruins and the Victoria Cougars of the Western Hockey League.
But it was Rochon’s work at the grassroots level of hockey in the Valley that will be his legacy.
“It was a really interesting career,” he reflected. “I’m greatly humbled to be part of the Wall of Fame.”
Rochon’s whole family was there to mark the occasion, along with many former players and friends.
He faced a new challenge six years ago after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s, but remains steadfast in fighting it every step of the way.
Rochon also lost his wife Lana three years ago. The awards ceremony took place three years less a day since she died and Rochon took the flowers he received to her gravesite Sunday.
For more photos from the ceremony, see Page A7.