The Vikings hockey tradition has gone on strong through our years as Camrose Lutheran College, Augustana University College, and finally, the University of Alberta’s Augustana Campus. A Canadian institution that boasts both competition and collegiality, hockey seems to have a lasting impact even on those who are not regular players. And those who have come to Camrose to hone their talent, make lifelong friends and become part of a lasting tradition where “Vikings” is more than a simple team name, but a family. Ken, Mike and Paul Lovsin embody that dynamic quite literally, as two generations of players that can’t seem to get enough of Augustana, of hockey, and of bearing the name “Viking”.
Hockey flows through the veins of the Lovsin boys. Brothers Ken and Mike grew up in Peace River with sticks and pucks as much a part of their winter as the ice and snow. Mike was first encouraged to attend Augustana (then Camrose Lutheran College) by Larry Stewart, who played on the National Championship team in 74/75, as well as Joe Voytechek, who had coached the championship team, and was still the coach when Mike became a Viking in 1979.
Above: Father (Mike) and son (Paul) Lovsin then and now. The bowties may have changed, but their love of hockey hasn’t.
“It was my first time moving away from home; I had all of those feelings of nervousness and excitement” Mike recalls fondly as one of the highlights of his time here, followed by another: the trip the Vikings took overseas over Christmas of 1979 to play in Finland and Sweden as one of the first amateur teams to enter the Soviet Union at the time. Mike spoke not of the number of goals he scored, or how well they ranked in the tournament, but instead about the young men he met while playing for the Vikings, many of whom he is still in contact with today. “You forget about the wins and losses, but not the people.”
Ken Lovsin saw what a great experience his brother Mike had had playing and studying in Camrose, so it was natural for him to follow suit, attending Camrose Lutheran College from 1984-1986. Ken continued on to have an impressive hockey career, playing a game in the NHL and several as part of Team Canada, even winning silver at the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway. “Growing up, every four years we watched the Olympics on TV and I dreamed of playing for my country at an event like that,” Ken recollected. “My time at Augustana helped to hone the skills I needed to make the progression to the Olympic program.”
Right: Canada’s Ken Lovsin competes in hockey action at the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer. (CP Photo/COA/Claus Andersen)
And now, twenty-or-so odd years later, Ken’s nephew and Mike’s son Paul Lovsin dons the same jersey as the men in the family before him. A familiar story, Paul grew up skating and playing hockey, and chose Augustana through personal connection; his family friend Curtis Skip (whose father also happened to play for the Vikings) had been here for a couple years when Paul decided to move to Camrose and begin his undergraduate degree. Paul doesn’t feel as if he has anything to live up to, but instead cherishes the important role hockey plays within his life. “Hockey is a big part of my family. My uncle played at a very high level, and was an exceptional talent. My dad got me into skating.”
Paul plans to carry on his family’s tradition in more ways than one. A first year business economics student, he hopes to take over the grocery store chain after he completes his degree. The Freson Bros. chain boasts 15 small-town stores across Alberta which are all owned and operated by Mike, Ken and their third brother Doug.
Paul’s dad is excited about his son not only playing as a Viking as he once did, but for having the opportunity to stay, live and graduate from the University of Alberta’s Augustana Campus, something that was not yet possible for him as a student of Camrose Lutheran College. The small class sizes and tight-knit community does not only allow a better environment in which to learn, but also to make connections, two things Mike recognizes as “a good foundation for the rest of your life.”
“The best time of my life was in Camrose, I wish that for Paul too.”
Come celebrate the Viking tradition with Mike and Paul Lovsin (Ken sends his regrets) at this year’s Hockey Alumni Weekend, which takes place January 27th to 28th, 2017. For more details and to register, click here.
Paul was also this year’s recipient of the annual $1000 Alumni Entrance Award, given to an incoming student descended from an alumni. This award, along with the Alumni Leadership Award, is supported by several alumni that pledge monthly, yearly, or give one-time gifts to the Alumni Awards Initiative. Thank you for your support! For more information on how you can support Augustana’s Alumni Awards, please contact Bree Urkow of the Augustana Development Office at 780-679-1131 or email@example.com.