Okotoks Bisons
Celebrating Zak Johns
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A people person, the life of the party, a Bisons through and through, that is how friends and family remember 22-year-old brother, Zak Johns. On the evening of June 4, Zak passed away, the result of a motorcycle accident two kilometers north of Champion.

Zak is remembered by his family friends and teammates as an amazing young man, who could make friends anywhere he went. A person who would do anything to help those he cared about, especially his family, and his extended Bisons family, who he loved and cared for immensely. However, to his Bisons family, he is known as Johnsy.

Johns was the youngest of his family, witty and funny, quick to respond with a verbal jab when the need arose. Described as not being a typical hockey guy, he walked to the beat of his own drum. He was his own charismatic, unique person, with a unique style to match. He put 100% of his effort and passion into everything he did, including his hockey career. In his hockey career he captained his Midget AA team to a Provincial Championship, then as a rookie with the Bisons in 2012  he helped his team to their only Provincial title and bronze medal at the Keystone Cup. Johns played four years with the Bisons, and the Bisons Red and Blue colors ran in his veins, winning two Heritage League Championships during his time with the team. He was named Co-Captain of the Bisons in 2014 along with childhood teammate Dylan Boyd. Johns played 304 games with the Bisons, earning 119 points, as well as receiving 304 penalty minutes, ranking him third for the most penalty minutes in franchise history.

Bisons assistant coach Blake Wildeman says that in the hockey world Johns was known as one of those guys you loved to have on your team, but hated to play against. Wildeman says the word that best described Johns on the ice was "greasy."

"When he went into the corners with an opposing player and they thought they had that battle won, he always found a way to battle back. He was a player that could throw the opposing team off their game, and he had incredible skill and vision as well".

However, even with being a greasy player on the ice Wildeman says “that Johns was looked at as a leader because of his love and dedication to the sport. His passion and love for the game is something that showed and spilled over to his teammates."

Co-captain Dylan Boyd, says that Johns was not just a teammate but a brother. “I know a lot of us looked at him as a brother, and we lost a part of our family,” Boyd says that Johns shined as a leader on the ice and made those around him better athletes and people.

Wildeman says that Johns was always full of life. "He would always be walking around, joking around smiling, the life of the party and a pleasure to be around."

Johns was always a favorite of the young players that came to the Bisons games. He was the person that they aimed to be, and that they cheered on no matter what he did. Bisons head coach Mike Hannigan said once that Johns was his son's favorite player, when Hannigan would come home from a game the question posed to him was never did you win or lose but “Did Johnsy score?”

His influence on kids when it came to hockey didn’t just happen on the ice in his Bisons Red and Blue but also in the community. Johns helped Wildeman out for a time at Skillz Skating and Shooting Center, running some training sessions as a favor to Wildeman. He clicked with the kids that he trained and ended up working there part-time while going to school.  

"We still have kids asking about him at Skillz. His passing is felt in Okotoks and beyond. The people he worked with at Skillz and the kids he trained are pretty shaken up. Zak was a great employee and an even greater person. " Wildeman says.

This young man touched the life of every person he met and made a difference for them in some way shape or form.

Captain Mark McLeod says that this year the team is heading out wanting to win it all and for a lot of the guys they want to win it for Johns. Most of the guys played with him, and he was a part of their family, and in his memory, they hit the ice looking for that win. “It has been a while since we won it all, and that was something he always wanted to do again, so we always have him on our minds.”

Assistant Captain Robbie McLean says that this season the team will be playing for Johns and having something as small as the helmet sticker as a representation of him means the world. “It shows the rest of the hockey community that no matter what once a Bison always a Bison and that when we are on the ice, he is in our hearts.”

Assistant Captains Connor Tudor and Taylor McNeil both agree going through the season Johns and this past summer will always be in the back of their heads and they will remember how lucky they were to have him as a role model and brother. Going forward both guys want to be the leaders to the rookies and newcomers that he once was to them.

Please join the Bisons Family on November 6th to remember a friend, brother, and son who bled Red and Blue, who was a true Bison through and through.

Puck drop is 1:15 at the Murray Arena.


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Upcoming Bisons Camps
Bison Forward Named Player Of The Week
Bisons Sweep Weekend Aginst Top Teams In The North
Bisons 27th Annual Golf Tournament
Celebrating Zak Johns