BEN LYPKAMission Record
There will be a big hole on the bench and in the dressing room of the Mission City Outlaws starting next season.
For the club’s entire existence, trainer Nikko Steenhuisen helped prepare, heal and nurse back to health the young hockey talent on the Outlaws.
But those skills were lost forever after Steenhuisen died on Saturday following a confrontation in the parking lot of a Home Hardware store in Grande Prairie, Alta.
RCMP said Steenhuisen was leaving the store just before 1 p.m. and confronted an unknown man who was sitting in his vehicle. Police said Steenhuisen chased after the suspect as he attempted to flee in another car. Steenhuisen hopped onto the running board of the truck driven by the suspect when it collided with another parked car, pinning him between the two vehicles.
Steenhuisen was seriously injured, resulting in him being airlifted to an Edmonton hospital. He died en route.
Michael Ginter, 30, of Grande Prairie is charged with one count of second-degree murder and one count of possession of property obtained by crime exceeding $5,000.
Outlaws owner Scott Kieler said Steenhuisen was an extremely valuable part of his franchise.
“We won’t be able to replace him,” he said, noting that Steenhuisen was also a former trainer for the Abbotsford Pilots. “He came over to Mission when they were the Icebreakers and he was actually the one who called me and told me to buy the team five years ago. I’ve worked with him ever since.”
Kieler said that Steenhuisen was regarded as the top trainer in the Pacific Junior Hockey League (PJHL), and was extremely dedicated to his role.
“He was so devoted, he would never miss a thing,” he said. “He would always be upgrading his skills and was pretty much a doctor for our team. He was a very big part of the team and was very close with the boys.”
Steenhuisen’s impact was apparent after the outpouring on social media following the news of his death.
The PJHL office and six other teams all paid their respects to Steenhuisen online, as well as several players with whom he worked over the years.
“Deepest condolences to the family of Nikko, great guy and trainer who loved his players. I’ll remember you by this scar on my chin you stitched up,” tweeted out Bakshi Gill, who played two seasons on the Outlaws.
“Thank you for everything you have done and I’m sorry life has taken you in such a tragic and unnecessary way,” tweeted Noah Wiebe, who was part of this year’s championship Outlaws team.
Adding to the tragedy is that Steenhuisen leaves behind a wife and three young daughters. Kieler said the Outlaws will do their best to help the family in this difficult time.
“It’s really sad,” he said. “We have to take care of them.”
Kieler said a GoFundMe page called “Nikko’s Girls” will be set up to accept donations. He also said that the Outlaws will honour Steenhuisen with a nod to him on their helmet and possibly on the ice. Kieler said he has also heard that the PJHL may be creating an annual trainer award named after him.