Born on August 24th, 1937 in Port Arthur, Ontario, Henry Akervall, known to everyone since as Hank, grew up as a sporting star.
He excelled in football, baseball, track and field, and curling but like most boys in northern Ontario and all of Canada for that matter, it was hockey that was his true love.
Akervall was talented defenseman with a reputation of playing a more rugged game than his 5'10" frame would suggest. He was quite the star at all levels of hockey growing up.
But Akervall did not go the conventional route of junior hockey in the NHL sponsorship days. He also had aspirations of going to University. In 1959, he did just that, crossing Lake Superior to go to Houghton, Michigan. For the next three seasons he starred with the Michigan Tech Huskies. He was a WCHA All Star each season. He was also the alternate captain of the famed 1961-62 squad that won the NCAA Division I national championships.
Though the Detroit Red Wings attempted to sign Akervall, he had other plans once again. He would captain Father David Bauer's Canadian National Team and played in the 1964 Olympic Games in Innsbruck, Austria.
Those games were controversial to say the least. The international powers that be, namely IIHF president Bunny Ahearne, were all aligned with the Eastern European nations of those days, namely the Soviets. They had a long history of screwing over Canada, and they would strike again at the Innsbruck games.
Canada finished in a three way tie for third place, and according to the normal tie breaking rules in place, they should have won the bronze medal. However Ahearne and his men got busy behind the scenes, and chose to invoke some alternative tie breaking scheme, seeing Canada out of the medals in 4th place.
Despite a move 41 years later to remedy the situation, Canada still officially is listed as 4th place finishers and never did get the medals they deserved.
Akervall's days with the Nats would come to a close after the Olympics. He would play one more year of hockey, playing with the Warroad Lakers senior team in Minneapolis.
In 1966 Akervall returned to the Thunder Bay, Ontario region to become an educator and coach. He taught in the Forestry department at Lakehead University while also serving as the Director of Athletics. He was instrumental in the University's creation of the Physical Education Program and the Outdoor Recreation Program.
Not surprisingly, Akervall also coached the University hockey team for a total of 7 seasons.
Sadly, on February 18, 2000, Hank passed away from a heart attack while playing a game of pick-up hockey, the game he loved. In his memory each year Lakehead University now honours his memory with the Hank Akervall Award, given to the senior varsity student-athlete who best exemplifies great dedication, commitment, community involvement, and leadership.