Heath Armstrong of the Brooks Bandits has been selected as the recipient of the 2023 Stewy Stewart Memorial Award.  The Stewy Stewart Memorial Trophy is awarded annually to the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL) player in the South Division that best exhibits the following attributes: character, dedication, perseverance, integrity and sportsmanship.

“Heath Armstrong epitomizes what every junior hockey player should aspire to be,” stated Brooks Bandits General Manager and Head Coach Ryan Papaioannou.  “Off the ice he is kind, well-spoken and respectful. On the ice his work ethic, competitiveness and dedication are second to none.”

“His journey through Junior hockey has been nothing less than a tale of perseverance. Like many others he entered junior hockey during the COVID season, which ultimately challenged his dedication to the game. He passed with flying colors and helped our team to a very successful, yet interrupted season. Year two brought severe injury trouble.  He returned near playoff time, fought himself back into a deep forward group and ultimately won a National Championship as a key penalty killer and defensive player.”

“This season has gone extremely well. Heath was named an assistant captain, which was an easy choice factoring in his integrity and character and he was well on his way to earning a Division I scholarship.  For the third season in a row, he is going through more adversity than most to try and overcome another serious injury and hopefully re-join our team in the playoff season.  I could write pages on Heath’s importance to our team, but the reality is his courage to persevere to this point serves as testament to his character.”

Heath Armstrong (Calgary, AB) was the Brooks Bandits nominee for the Giuseppe AJHL Greatest Teammate Award, RBC Community Ambassador and the Inter Pipeline AJHL All-Academic Team.  He was also a finalist for the 2023 AJHL Most Dedicated Player Award.  On March 25th, Heath was presented the Nick Crosby Memorial Award, which is awarded annually to the player in the Bandits organization that best represents Nick’s qualities of dedication, sportsmanship and love for the game.

The 2002-born forward has earned an NCAA Division I scholarship to Long Island University.

“Despite the ups and downs of my career I remain dedicated to my goals and to my team,” said Heath Armstrong.  “Injuries have meant at times, being in and out of the lineup or having to accept a certain role on the team. I met these challenges head on and continued to put the team’s success before personal, taking on any role asked of me and doing it to the best of my ability. I model a positive attitude and support my teammates no matter what personal difficulties I might be facing at the time. I continue to work hard in pursuit of another championship for my team.”

“Community involvement and being a positive role model have always been important to me, but I didn’t get to truly see the impact we can have on people until coming to Brooks. I realized quickly while getting to know my billet brothers (ages 7 & 9 at the time) how much they look up to me and my teammates and how much impact our actions on and off the ice have on them and so many other kids! I see how closely they watch my routines, habits, work ethic and attitude and how they even try to copy them!”

“I am confident that I am setting a good example for them and for the kids we get to interact with on school visits, coaching minor hockey and other community events. I know that everything I do on and off the ice is a direct reflection of my character and I always want coaches, my teammates and the community to respect my choices, work ethic and the impression I make as a representative of the AJHL.”

“The valuable lessons learned and the resiliency I developed throughout my hockey career are now more important than ever. Just as we entered the homestretch of this great season, I suffered another serious injury leading to an extensive surgery and another tough road to recovery. But, I love this game. It continues to be the driving force in my life and my motivation to get back on the ice is a very powerful thing.  I know I will be back to support and lead my team to more exciting opportunities as we roll into playoffs. I look forward to the challenge!”

The Stewy Stewart Memorial Trophy is named in recognition of a long-time Calgary area fan who supported hockey at all levels. ‘Stewy’ died in 1997 and the award was created to honour his support and commitment to the game.