Taking advantage of some perfectly chilly days, Shellbrook celebrated Canada’s most famous game with two days dedicated to hockey.
All of Shellbrook’s teams played on Hockey Day to promote the sport and raise funds for the rink, which is in “desperate need for repairs,” according to committee member Stephanie Gosselin.
The ice surface, as well as the cement and pipes underneath the ice, all need to be replaced. The boards are getting old, and the Zamboni will need to be upgraded.
All told, Gosselin estimates it will take $1 million to completely repair the rink.
The goal of Hockey Day is $35,000, which she admits is a drop in the bucket. “It’s a really good starting point for us. We’re in for a wild ride.”
Former coach Jim McComas said a renovated rink wouldn’t be good for just Shellbrook, but also for all of the smaller communities around it.
“Shellbrook has opened its borders to surrounding communities. It’s about kids from Big River, Camden, the surrounding First Nations, coming in to play hockey. This is truly a community rink. The welfare of our rink is also important for the welfare of the whole area.”
McComas has coached every level of hockey in Shellbrook, and was also a player in his younger years. In that time, he said he’s learned some important things about how hockey fits into the community and families.
“Hockey isn’t just a game to help (Shellbrook) grow. It’s a game to help our children grow up. I think if we all remember that…and if parents understand that and help their kids, everyone wins. This is a tremendous event for Shellbrook.”
“When we have larger events like this the community comes out and supports it,” Atom coach Quinn Taite said. “It brings you back to when we used to have a lot of big games here, and brings the community spirit back.”
That community spirit was on full display both days.
“It’s been a fabulous weekend,” Gosselin said. “It’s been a cold weekend and I think that speaks to the community. We had a packed house last night for the high school versus teacher game…and there were 200 people in here this morning for a pancake breakfast. People really support the rink.”
Gosselin hopes Shellbrook will be able to use Hockey Day as a springboard to hosting the 2017 Cameco Hockey Day Saskatchewan, which promotes community hockey throughout Sask.
In recent years St. Walburg, Assiniboia and Melville have hosted the official Hockey Day, and have raised money for their rinks. For 2017, a rink from zone 8 (which includes Shellbrook, Prince Albert, Candle Lake and many others) will be selected.
If Shellbrook is selected as the host of Hockey Day 2017, Gosselin hopes they can raise another $100,000 towards rink repairs.
Even if that doesn’t happen, however, Shellbrook residents can say they had a great weekend of hockey.
Players mixed and matched within their leagues, and even outside of their age brackets. Novice coach Shaun Schmitz said he saw older players teaching younger ones tips and tricks.
“They’re pumped to do it. They love it,” he said. “It’s awesome for the community because it brings not only the people that use the rink, but people who don’t. It lets everyone in the community see how important the rink is.”
The excitement in Shellbrook didn’t end with the last game.
A fundraiser in the evening, which is nearly sold out, will recognize twelve players with sportsman awards. Ex-NHLer Kelly Chase, who played for the Saskatoon Blades, St. Louis Blues, Hartford Whalers and Toronto Maple Leafs, is the guest speaker.
On Twitter: @spencer_sterrit
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