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2nd from left with Rick Chartraw (left), Adelaide Adrenaline captain Candice Mitchell with the Joan McKowen Memorial Trophy, and Don Rurak, AWIHL Finals, 2011-12. Photograph by Frank Kutche.


June 21st 1953
Lake Cowichan, Vancouver Island, Canada

Canadian minor and university hockey teams, IHSA Red Wings, Canberra Senators

McKowen Trophies

World Championships
Eq Mgr: 2005 Head Coach: 2007,'08, 2011 to '13 (5) Ice Hockey

Director, National Women's Program
Co-Founder, Women's Showcase Series
Co-Founder, AWIHL
Founder, Canberra Senators

BORN JUNE 21ST 1953 in Lake Cowichan on Vancouver Island, Canada, the son of Croatian-born John Ivan (Dida) and his wife Annie. His father served in the Canadian Army until War's end, worked for Hillcrest lumber company and WFI until retirement, and was a proud member of Lake Cowichan Fire Department for 27 years, retiring as Assistant Fire Chief.

He played minor hockey around Duncan from the late-1960s and in representative teams against other towns. With very little natural ice on the Island, perhaps a few weeks each season, and no Junior B league until the year after he left, he played his last hockey there for the Faculty of Forestry at the University.

He arrived in Adelaide, South Australia, in the early-1970s with George Dashwood, and joined the Red Wings in the local league. He married and returned to Canada for 2 years in 1979. Back in Australia, he moved to Canberra, started Dan & Dan Landscaping in 1981, and raised a family. His interest in women's ice hockey was sparked by his daughter, Riley, who played ice hockey in the boy's leagues in Canberra in the 1990s. He became a Level 3 accredited coach and took over when the ACT's women's team needed a new boss.

As ACT women climbed the ladder, Kathy Berg, the National Women's Team Coach based in Canada, invited the coaches of the top 3 women's teams to be involved in the 2004 national camp. In 2005, he helped out as Equipment Manager with the NWT in South Africa. In 2007, when Berg could no longer continue in the unpaid role, he stepped in and became Director of the National Women's Program with Dawn Watt.

Discussions with some of the AIHL founders, including Wayne Hellyer and John Raut, opened a pathway to a new league. In the mid-2000s, he and Watt set up the Showcase Series modeled on the AIHL mini-series of the late-1990s. From there they were able to establish the Australian Women's Ice Hockey League with Tamra Jones in 2007.

He succeeded Kathy Berg as coach of the National Women's Team the same year and won gold. Kylie Taylor took over the women's program, and he took Australia to a silver medal and two bronze (2011 to 2013). After ten years and 5 world championships, he retired from coaching. He said the highlight of his career was successfully working himself out of the job, but traditional rivals New Zealand, Great Britain, Holland and Slovenia quickly left Australia in their wake.

When the nation was left without a medal from the next two Women's Worlds, he searched abroad for a new NWT coach and in 2015 recruited Lindsay McAlpine, a former Canadian women's league player in Edmonton. The NWT has since returned to its earlier form.

A Life Member of the national association, he also started the Canberra Senators in the old-timers league and still plays old timers hockey into his sixties. An award in the League is named in his honour. His proudest moment in the sport was watching his daughter Rylie top her team.

01. Historical Notes

02. Citation Details

Ross Carpenter, 'Padjen, Rocky (1953 - )', Legends of Australian Ice, Melbourne, Australia,, accessed online .

03. Select Bibliography

[1] Notes from conversation, 2017.

04. Citations
Citations | 1 - 280 | 281-on |
G A L L E R YArrows at right scroll the images
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AWIHL Finals

2nd from left with Rick Chartraw (left), Adelaide Adrenaline captain Candice Mitchell with the Joan McKowen Memorial Trophy, and Don Rurak, AWIHL Finals, 2011-12. Photograph by Frank Kutche.

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AWIHL Finals

From left, Rick Chartraw, Rocky Padjen and Don Rurak with Brisbane Goannas Tiffany Samain-Venning (Nellie Gee Award for Best Rookie), AWIHL Finals, 2011-12. Photograph by Frank Kutche.