It will be “Hockey Night in Ashcroft” on Saturday, Jan. 22, when firefighters and law enforcement representatives go head-to-head at the Drylands Arena in the second First Responders Charity Hockey Match, aka “Guns and Hoses”. The family-friendly event will feature plenty of on-ice antics and pranks, a fun shoot-out to be judged by the spectators, a puck toss, raffle, shared prize draw, concession, and more.
There will even be a hockey game, with organizer Chris Buckland — who is captaining the law enforcement team — noting that his squad is looking for the win after losing the first match in 2020.
“There are definitely some bragging rights that follow the winner,” he says. “The law enforcement team is one game behind, so we’re in it to win it. We have a little more on the line this year, because we’ve purchased a trophy. This year’s winner will have a plaque on the trophy, so there’s a lot more riding on it.”
The law enforcement team will be made up of current and retired RCMP from Ashcroft, Clinton, Lillooet, Penticton, and Merritt, as well as BC Highway Patrol officers. Despite the friendly rivalry that has already been on display in the run-up to the game, and will continue on Jan. 22, Buckland says that players from both squads have been working together during practices to hone the comedic on-ice activities that are planned, and to develop an even better camaraderie between the two agencies.
Buckland is keeping mum about what exactly spectators can expect to see, but says that the intermission will feature a fun shoot-out similar to what takes place during the NHL All-Star weekend.
“There are no rules, so players can do what they want. There could be props, and all sorts of surprises.” The winner will be the player whose shoot-out antics get the biggest reaction and the most applause from the crowd.
The intermission will also feature a puck toss, with audience members purchasing pucks in advance and then throwing the on to the ice; whoever lands closest to the target will win the grand prize of a TV. It’s one of the many prizes that have been donated by local businesses (including some home-based ones) as well as a few Kamloops businesses, which will feature as raffle prizes, and there will be a shared prize draw, with the winner taking home 30 per cent of the funds collected.
Admission is by donation, and Buckland says that all funds raised at the gate — as well as proceeds from the puck toss, shared prize draw, and raffle — are being donated to the Lytton Fire Department so that they can purchase replacements for some of the equipment they lost in the fire on June 30 last year. Lytton fire chief Jason Phillips is scheduled to be at the match to take part in the ceremonial puck drop.
“It’s all for a great cause,” says Buckland. “When the organizers discussed what we planned on raising money for, it was unanimous that it would be for the Lytton Fire Department. Regardless of what organization we work for, we’re all first responders, and we have to back each other up. This is how we show the first responders to the south of us that we’ve got their backs.”
The match is scheduled to start at 6 p.m. on Jan. 22, with the doors opening at 5 p.m. Anyone who feels a bit peckish will be able to take advantage of a concession run by Thompson-Cariboo Minor Hockey Association.
Because of COVID-19 regulations, Drylands Arena will be operating at half-capacity, meaning a maximum of 300 people on a first-come, first-served basis. Everyone aged 12 and older must be double-vaccinated and show their B.C. vaccination card and ID; children aged 11 and younger do not have to show proof of vaccination. Masks must also be worn at all times.
There have been several good-natured videos and pictures posted to the Ash-Creek First Responders Charity Hockey Game Facebook page in the run-up to the match, and Buckland says they’re a good way to draw attention to the event.
“We can see how many people the videos have reached; one of them has reached 3,000 people. It builds camaraderie, but also shows the drive we have to win the event between the two organizations.”