Craig’s family, the Johnston’s, arrived in the Bezanson area in 1912. Craig, born on March 12, 1975 at Grande Prairie, is Wanda Zenner’s middle son. He has two brothers, Daren and Barry. Craig attended the Bezanson Consolidated School followed by High School at Sexsmith and then on to NAIT in Edmonton where he studied Civil Engineering.
Although Craig was an exceptional athlete who participated in several sports, hockey proved to be his sport of choice. He started playing hockey at a very young age as he tried out for and made the Grande Prairie “Rep” teams. He endured many years of early morning practices from 6 – 7 am in Grande Prairie. Summers were spent at hockey schools at various locations in Alberta not to mention the hours of grass hockey where you would often find “grandpa” in net and Craig shooting tennis balls at him. As the “Rep” teams were a travelling team, most weekends were spent on a Greyhound Bus. Depending on whether or not the team was ranked as “AA” or “AAA”, league play often entailed travelling as far away as southern Alberta.
The team basically had the same players from yearto-year and they soon became known for their diversity of talent. In 1990/91, the Bantam “AAA” Team was on fire as they slowly crept up the ladder in the league standings. Although they went into the Provincials ranked in 5th place, they beat the two top teams; Red Deer and Sherwood Park – teams that they had not been able to beat all season. In fact, Sherwood Park was so confident that they would win Provincials that they ordered new jackets complete with the “Provincial Champions Crest”, before the tournament commenced. Darcy Tucker and Jason Podollan, who eventually went on to play in the NHL, were fierce competitors who played in the same league.
Immediately following the success of the Provincials, it was time to focus on the Purolator Cup Challenge which was the Major Bantam Championship for the four western provinces. In 1991, the tournament was held in Medicine Hat on April 11 – 14. What an exhilarating and proud experience for Craig and his team-mates on the “Provincial Championship Team” as they wore the flashy red Team Alberta Jerseys not to mention the fact that several hockey scouts were in the stands. The games were hard-fought and Craig and his team from Grande Prairie came home with an impressive bronze medal.
Craig has a son, Hunter, and a daughter, Charley. He has made his home on an acreage in the Cochrane area that boasts a spectacular view of the mountains. Craig owns his own Company, Cellis Management Corporation, which provides service to the oil and gas industry. He continues to be a “rink-rat” as he watches and mentors his son who also loves the game of hockey.
Craig is a very talented athlete whose skills and accomplishments will be talked about and praised by local residents for years to come. He has always been proud to call Bezanson Home.
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Written by Wanda Zenner – February 2020.