EDMONTON -- A northern Alberta man who died from COVID-19 has been identified as a coach and vice-president of a minor hockey association in High Prairie.

Shawn Auger, 34, was identified as a victim by Big Lakes County, with county council and staff offering their condolences to his family.

A Facebook post from High Prairie Minor Hockey Association, which Auger was vice-president of, remembered him as a former coach and "wonderful member of our hockey family."

The post said he was often at the arena cheering on his kids, who also played hockey.

"His smiling face and passion for hockey will definitely be missed around the arena," it said. "We would like to extend our thoughts and prayers to Shawn's wife and children during this difficult time, along with the rest of his family and numerous friends."

According to his wife, who coached alongside him, Auger had a pre-existing asthma condition.

That condition didn't seem to stop him from taking part in living a full life, according to his friend Leonell Hamelin, president of the hockey association.

"Twice a week you could find him out playing rec hockey with some of the local boys, just enjoying a night out on the ice," said Hamelin.

The death has rocked the small town of High Prairie, which had a population of just over 2,500 in 2016, according to census data.

"I've had trouble explaining it to my own kids," said Hamelin. "I would say [Auger] would want you to keep playing hard. Play the game as hard as you can, every shift, every time you put on your jersey, every time you put your skates on."

He said some in High Prairie weren't treating the COVID-19 pandemic seriously until Auger's death.

That has Hamelin echoing a message often repeated by public health authorities.

"Really think twice about stepping out that door or going to that surrounding. Only go out if you really need to." 

So far eight people in Alberta have died from COVID-19.

Big Lakes County is about 300 kilometres northwest of Edmonton.