A tribute by Don Liesemer
June was called home to heaven on December 26. She was welcomed by her Savior and reunited with her loving husband, Dean. Hockey Ministries International, it’s staff and volunteers, mourn her passing and extend deepest condolences to daughters Kelly and Kerry and their families. The Prentices were pioneers in the Christian movement in hockey having received Christ in the early 1970’s. Dean and June joined the HMI staff team in 1988 and faithfully served the Lord many years reaching countless players, their families and fans with the Good News of Jesus Christ.
The game provided many thrilling moments for the Prentices…but surprisingly-the most memorable and life changing took place off the ice and away from the rink. At the 1301 game mark of his career, with 363 goals, 422 assists, 456 penalty minutes, an All Star selection, and the thrill of being a Stanley Cup finalist and a Memorial Cup champion to his credit and two years remaining on his contract. And most important… a beautiful wife, June, two lovely daughters, Kelly and Kerry. Dean should have been on top of the world…
But he began to sense a strange and abiding emptiness. Something vital was missing. There was a thirst for living water and while he didn’t know it at the time…a thirst that that only Christ could fill. June also had been searching and was inspired while hearing the testimonies of 3 Minnesota Viking football players. In Dean’s words: “She realized that they had something that we didn’t. At her insistence I met with the players and I felt like I had been hit with a slap shot. I had always believed that if my good works outweighed my bad deeds that I would be welcomed into heaven. However the players explained that in God’s plan the way into heaven is through believing in and receiving His Son, Jesus Christ. We can never be good enough to earn our way. The Prentices were hurting and God's loving heart was touched. The Lord reached out to them and they responded. "Both June and I knew what was needed. So we got down on our knees, admitted to God that we were sinners, asked His forgiveness and invited Christ into our lives. The Lord did just as He promised. He came into our lives and we felt great."
"We had found peace. It was like skating around with a piano on my back and having it lifted off. The heavy weight of my sin was gone, and I felt a new sense of freedom. I felt physically younger and stronger as I relied on Christ to give me strength. There was no letdown in my game. I was playing for Christ. I just made Him the center of my life. In looking back over my life, my only regret is that I did not come to know the Lord a long time before I did. For 20 years I was a macho hockey player, but for the last two years of my career I knew I was playing for the honor of the Lord."
Daughters Kelly and Kerry, also received Christ into their hearts. The Prentice family would never be the same. The love of Jesus became the centre of their family and home. Jesus Christ was first. And like the shepherds at the first Christmas, they wanted to tell the story of their Savior wherever they went…
Dean and June were pioneers in the Christian movement in hockey and joined the HMI staff team in 1988. They participated in Christian Hockey Camps, Conferences, Team Chapel programs, and outreach events…They traveled from team to team speaking to players and coaches. What teamwork! June prayed in the stands while Dean spoke to players in their dressing rooms. The Prentices were also highly committed to HMI’s Christian Hockey Camp programs where for many years they participated together reaching out to young hockey players…And when at home during the off season they dedicated hours of their time to pray by name for the young athletes who attended the Christian Hockey Camps.
One funny story about June. She was a coin collector…a different sort than most…she collected lost coins…that is- -rare coins that had fallen from someone’s pocket and found on sidewalks and roadsides and outside McDonald’s Drive-Thrus. She was a pro…...a penny, a nickel, a dime and even sometimes a quarter… A few years ago Dean and June and Jeanie and I were on a walk…Dean and I leading the way. As the distance grew a longer between us and knowing that June and Jeanie were scrutinizing every square inch of the sidewalk, we smoothly dropped a Toonie along the pathway…and then slowed our pace and listened. Most of Florida heard the shout for joy and so we stopped to find out what the commotion was all about…As our wives caught up to us…there were cheers of joy as Juneproudly held up the Canadian toonie.For her it was winning a gold medal.