Albina Dagenais has not been a timekeeper and assignor for all of her 31
years as a volunteer with Thunder Bay Minor.
She’s a past president of the North End Flames Hockey Association, coached,
trained and managed the U15 and U18 Flames in prior years, and also
volunteers for the Boys and Girls Club.
She has, however, put her stamp on the position.
“I love timekeeping, I love doing it, but I think my most enjoyable job was
running tournaments.” Dagenais says. “I did Thunder Bay [Minor Hockey
Association] tournaments for years, and at North End we covered Port Arthur
Arena. I loved just being at the rink and being part of the whole
“I’m a go-getter. You just put time aside to do the things you love to do.
I wanted my son (then nine, now 40) to have experiences, so my time was put
on the back burner. I wanted to make his experience great and anybody else
around. I just made the time.”
Sad to see the hockey season go, happy to have it back again in the fall,
laughter and sage advice are two hallmarks that shine through for Dagenais.
“Over the years I see kids who either did timekeeping for me or who I saw
in the penalty box who are older now,” she says. “They come up and they
give you a hug and say, ‘Nice to see you. Thanks for everything you did.’
It’s those kind of occasions that make you feel really good about what
you’re doing for hockey.”
Dagenais also volunteers at the breakfast club at St. Anne’s Elementary
“I’ve had kids during hockey season come and give me a gift just to thank
me for how I treated them in the penalty box. Or how I treat them in the
For most hockey parents, timekeeping is a task to be avoided – too much
going on to keep track. Dagenais uses a book of her own creation to keep
the penalties straight.
“You put the two the two teams in there. In the middle you put ‘TIME’ and
when people come in you write down the time right away and what the penalty
was,” she explains. “If there’s lots happening, you write it down in that
book. When it settles down you transfer it to the gamesheet. You can make
little notes in there for yourself. It’s the best way to do it. If you try
to remember times and put it on the game sheet right away when you look up
there could be ten seconds gone.
“I call it the ‘penalty keep book.’ I get my timekeepers one every year. I
insist they use it. I’m very anal about what I want done. It makes a big
difference if all of a sudden, all hell breaks loose. You’ve got five guys
on one side and seven on the other side, you better know exactly what’s
happening. If you have that book you can write down all their numbers.
“Trying to do it on the gamesheet, it’s too small, for one, to do it really
quickly. With the book you can be sloppy, as long as you can read your
writing. When you transfer it to the gamesheet, now it’s legible. You have
it all there in chronological order, just transfer it over.”
So, there it is – Timekeeping 101, courtesy of Albina Dagenais.
Wayne Fortes, president of the Thunder Bay Minor Hockey Association, knows
the value of Dagenais’ largely unheralded work at the rink.
“Without the volunteers there’s no hockey, there’s no sports, no
organizations of any kind,” he says. “Albina’s a key cog in our wheel,
there’s no doubt about it. She recruits the timekeepers, she organizes the
timekeepers. Meets with them. Makes sure they’re up on all the rules, any
changes we are making – especially in the playoffs.
“Just keeping all the slots filled. Especially all through COVID, all the
things that were going on. She’d have to make to makes changes either the
night prior to the next game or the day of and she’s always managed to keep
all the slots filled and ready to go. She’s very organized, very detailed.
We have very, very, very few complaints on our timekeepers. Tremendous
And then there’s the advice Dagenais dispenses as easily as timekeeping a
“It’s not just about hockey. It’s about life skills, it’s about respect,”
she says. “You need to get along with all different types of people. It’s
not just the on-ice that’s important. It’s behind the scenes, behind the
bench, in the dressing room… It’s not all about the wins. Yeah, it’s nice
to win, that’s the bonus.”
You don’t want to mess with Albina Dagenais. She’ll rumble if necessary.
“I’m not here to be anybody’s friend. I’m here for the kids. And my
timekeepers, the younger ones, I adopt them the six months of hockey, and
then I give them back to their parents. For those six months I support
them,” says Dagenais, who sets the bar at 13 or 14 years old for rookie
timekeepers. “And I tell my timekeepers, ‘If you make a mistake, own up to
it. We can fix it. Don’t try to cover it up. It’ll get ten times worse.’
“My timekeepers know if something happens, if they get harassed, I’ll back
them. I will support them. We’ll get something done. It’s a great first job
because they learn to concentrate. They learn to work with other people. If
they can handle all the noise and the bells and whistles, yelling and all
that … I’ve given probably over 100 references to different timekeepers
I’ve had. If you’re going to commit to something, you should commit all the
way. I’ve always been that way.”
As much as Dagenais supports her crew, there’s a line she won’t cross.
“I also told my timekeepers if they text me, I’m not learning your lingo.
I’m too damn old,” she chuckles. “Text me in full sentences or I’m not
answering you. And they do.”