Most people are familiar with Hockey Day in Canada; but there will be a Hockey Weekend in Ashcroft on November 18–19, with a wide variety of activities and special events for all members of the community, including a chance to meet Vancouver Canucks alumni and Fin the Canucks’ mascot, watch (or even take part in) a charity hockey game involving local first responders, and see a Major Midget league game between the Thompson Blazers and the Greater Vancouver Canadians.
Lewis Kinvig, president of the Thompson-Cariboo Minor Hockey Association (TCMHA), says that they were approached by BC Hockey and the Vancouver Canucks, who wanted to do something for the area after this summer’s wildfires. “BC Hockey wanted to make a weekend of it,” he says, which is why the Major Midget game was scheduled. The Canucks offered to bring their “Learn to Play” program, where children aged five to 10 who have never played hockey are given all the equipment they need from head to toe, as well seven training sessions, with the first one taking place on November 19 during the hockey weekend (subsequent sessions will take place on Friday evenings).
“The maximum number of participants was 30, and we had 31 kids sign up in two days after we advertised it,” says Kinvig. “They let us have that extra person.”
The weekend kicks off at 8 a.m. on November 18, with a novice tournament that ends at 2:15 p.m. At 3:30 the Major Midget league game featuring the Thompson Blazers and the Greater Vancouver Canadians starts. There is no charge, but those attending are asked to bring a food item for the South Cariboo Elizabeth Fry Society’s food bank. “We know that use of the food bank and victim services at E. Fry was up,” says Kinvig, adding that there will be 50/50 draws and raffles to raise money for wildfire relief.
At 7 p.m. on November 18 there will be a charity game featuring players from local First Nations, the RCMP, local firefighters, the BC Wildfire Service, BC Hockey, and the E. Fry Society. Kinvig says that any local business that donates $100 to the E. Fry Society can have a representative on the team as well.
The novice tournament continues on November 19 starting at 7:40 a.m., and will wrap up at 11:45 a.m. The Learn to Play on-ice session runs from noon to 1 p.m., and will be followed by a chance to meet with members of the Vancouver Canucks Alumni.
“It’s a meet and greet,” says Kinvig. “Everyone is welcome to come and ask questions, meet the players, and get autographs.”
Because they wanted to keep the weekend as busy as possible, Kinvig says they’ve added three skills camps. “We want it so that all the kids can be involved.” An initiation/novice skills camp runs from 3 to 4 p.m., followed by an Atom skills camp from 4:15 to 5:30, and a Peewee/Bantam skills camp from 5:45 to 7 p.m.
More than 90 youth are in the TCMHA this season, with the Peewee players once again taking part in the Chevrolet “Good Deeds Cup”. “We didn’t win last year, but we were featured in an ad,” says Kinvig. The Peewee players have been collecting food for the food bank, and cleaned out the community garden behind the E. Fry Society office.
Kinvig says that the Canucks will be filming parts of the weekend, and that there is already a lot of interest in the event. “It’s been a tough summer, so something like this will be a fun weekend,” he says. “I’m glad they picked us.”