This month’s Alumni Spotlight features Alex Mandolidis, formerly of the Calgary U18 AAA Flames.
CALGARY – Alex’s hockey journey began when he was just six years old, after his parents bought him a road hockey net for Christmas. After playing road hockey with the older kids on his block, and watching the Stanley Cup Finals, he asked to start playing ice hockey, and the game has been a huge part of his life ever since.
He played his minor hockey in Calgary with the Crowchild Hockey Association, before moving on to play elite hockey with the North West Calgary Athletic Association, skating for the Calgary U18 AAA Flames in 2001-02.
Alex then moved on to play in the Alberta Junior Hockey League, spending parts of three seasons with the Calgary Canucks from 2002-05, finishing the 2005 season with the Drayton Valley Thunder.
Although he has many fond memories of growing up playing hockey in Alberta, Alex said the road trips still stand out the most.
“There was something about being on the bus with my teammates,” he said. “Watching a movie, playing cards, telling stories, just hanging out with my teammates – especially after a win – are some of my favourite memories.”
Alex credits those he shared the ice with in his minor hockey days for the success he saw later on in his hockey career.
“I was very fortunate to have great coaches and teammates at the minor hockey level,” he said. “So, without their support and shared experiences, I would have been less prepared for playing at a higher level.”
Although hockey was his number one passion, Alex was also a perfect example of a multi-sport athlete.
“I enjoyed all kinds of sports growing up, and believe they all helped me develop skills for hockey,” he said. “Playing baseball helped with hand eye coordination and situational and game awareness. Soccer, basketball, football, and rugby all helped with fitness, athleticism, and team tactics. Although not all of the sports I participated in were organized, getting to participate in so many afforded me the opportunity to learn from others about teamwork, hard work, and fair play.”
After his Junior hockey career wound up, Alex didn’t stray too far from the game, moving from the ice onto the bench, and has been coaching hockey for well over a decade. He is currently entering his third season as an Assistant Coach with the Mount Royal University Men’s Hockey Team (U Sports), and previously spent time as an Assistant Coach with the Calgary Mustangs (AJHL), and as both an Assistant and Head Coach for various AEHL teams, including his Alma-mater, the Calgary U18 AAA Flames.
Alex also is a frequent volunteer with Hockey Alberta, serving various roles in the Alberta Cup between 2014-2018, and as the Video Coach for Team Alberta U16 Male at the 2017 WHL Cup and 2019 Canada Winter Games. He is set to be behind the bench for Team Alberta once again at the 2021 WHL Cup in Red Deer, this time as an assistant coach.
“(Playing hockey), I developed life skills, connected with life long friends, and traveled to new places,” he said. “Now as a coach, I continue to experience new opportunities through the game of hockey.”
You can hear Alex on the latest edition of the Centre Ice Podcast, sharing a panel with Team Alberta Coach Mentor Barry Medori and former Canada Winter Games gold medal-winning Team Alberta U18 Female Head Coach and two-time Olympic gold medalist Carla MacLeod. LISTEN >