Get ready to head down to the Drylands Arena in Ashcroft on Saturday, Jan. 21 for the third annual “Guns and Hoses” charity hockey match between local law enforcement and fire department players, who will be taking to the ice to raise funds for Honour Ranch near Ashcroft.
The ranch is a place of recovery and renewal for Canadian Armed Forces personnel, first responders, veterans, their families, and more. It opened in 2019 and is located off Highway 97C, 12 kilometres southeast of Ashcroft. It is operated by the Honour House Society, which established Honour House in New Westminster in 2010. The House has provided more than 10,000 nights of free accommodation for uniformed personnel and their families while they receive medical care in the Lower Mainland.
The ranch, which sits on 120 tranquil and secluded acres, provide a peaceful space, facilities, and support for individuals to learn healthy strategies to cope with operational stress injuries, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Honorary Col. Al De Genova, president and founder of the Honour House Society, will be at the match for the ceremonial puck drop, which takes place at 6 p.m. (doors open at 5:30 p.m.). Admission is by donation.
Fire chief Josh White of Ashcroft Fire Rescue explains how the organizers chose Honour Ranch as the beneficiary of this year’s event.
“We decided on Honour Ranch because they’re just up the hill, they’re local, and we wanted to help such a wonderful charity out. They support our first responder community in such a big way, so this is a heartfelt ‘least we can do’ for them.”
As with the past two matches, this year’s game promises plenty of serious hockey as both sides vie for the trophy and bragging rights. The first match in 2020 was won by the “Hoses” team, while the “Guns” won in 2022, so there’s plenty of motivation. However, there will also be lots of light-hearted on-ice antics, about which White has little to say beyond “I don’t want to go into too many details. People will have to come down and check it out.”
In addition to the match, there will be a concession operated by the Thompson-Cariboo Minor Hockey Association, so attendees should bring their appetites. Organizer Nancy Duchaine of Ashcroft Fire Rescue adds that there will also be a 30/70 draw (winner takes 30 per cent, with 70 per cent going to Honour Ranch), a puck toss contest, and a raffle for a variety of prizes donated by local businesses and organizations.
For the puck toss, contestants purchase pucks and then toss them onto the ice; the three closest to centre ice will win prizes. Up for grabs are a Stihl light chainsaw and DQ cake valued at $240; a backpack filled with outdoor gear valued at $200; and a backpack filled with picnic gear valued at $140.
“The baskets for the raffle draw were donated by so many wonderful local businesses,” says Duchaine. Among the baskets are a house protection kit, a gaming pack, an Indigenous basket, and a Warhammer prize pack.
Cst. Richard Wright of Ashcroft RCMP adds that in addition to issuing a donation cheque, the RCMP’s union, the National Police Federation, has donated two $200 hockey sticks. “One is right-handed and one is left-handed, and they’re stunning pieces of art.”
Wright adds that having a resource like Honour Ranch on the doorstep is wonderful for first responders in the community.
“As a recipient of services similar to what Honour Ranch provides, I can speak to the importance of the effect they have on the day-to-day life of those who need them.”
For those who can’t be at the match, it will be streamed live by Valley TV News. During the broadcast and on Facebook, viewers will see a link enabling them to donate directly to the Honour Ranch, and note that it’s for the Guns and Hoses event.
Asked what people can anticipate from the match, Duchaine replies “Fire’s going to win,” and Wright counters with “The RCMP laughs at that.” White jumps in: “At the end of the night we’ll still all be friends.
“Come down for a great night of entertainment, chase away those winter blues, and laugh with us,” he adds. “It’s for a great cause.”