Legacy of 2017 Hockey Canada Foundation Gala & Golf in Saskatoon Extends Beyond City
Legacy Plan targets financial assistance to Saskatoon families, Merlis Belsher Place at U of S, and northern Saskatchewan communities
SASKATOON, Sask. – Details of the 2017 Hockey Canada Foundation Gala & Golf Legacy Plan have been released, and will see the event’s impact extend beyond the city of Saskatoon.
Hockey Canada announced last December that Saskatoon would host the prestigious, two-day event featuring a who’s-who of the hockey world June 19-20, with half of the net proceeds of the Hockey Canada Foundation’s largest annual fundraiser remaining in Saskatoon and the province to support the growth of the game. The event’s local steering committee, led by Team Canada alumnus Blair Davidson, unveiled its Legacy Plan at a news conference on Tuesday.
The Saskatchewan Hockey Association (SHA) and Saskatoon Minor Hockey Association (SMHA) will share the proceeds evenly, to support the following:
- The SHA will travel to 10 northern communities to host cross-ice jamborees for Initiation Program-aged (5- and 6-year-old) boys and girls. The special cross-ice bumpers will be left in those communities to support age-appropriate programming moving forward;
- A portion of the SHA funds will also go to the Saskatchewan Hall of Fame;
- The SMHA is using a portion of its proceeds to assist with the construction of Merlis Belsher Place at the University of Saskatchewan, a new twin-pad arena that will see the Association’s ice-time allocation increase by 1,500 hours each season and will be built to accommodate sledge hockey. Philanthropist and U of S graduate Merlis Belsher, for whom the new arena will be named, has committed to match the funds to double the financial impact to the project;
- The rest of the funds directed at the SMHA will support the Association’s Memorial Cup legacy fund, which is administered by the Association and SaskSport to assist families demonstrating financial need with costs associated with team fees, equipment, and transportation, for example.
“Our goal was to ensure we were providing a meaningful Legacy Plan that would allow us to make the most meaningful impact possible not only in Saskatoon, but in the province as well,” said Davidson. “From the Initiation Program initiative in the north to the new facility in Saskatoon and adding a financial boost to a fund that supports families in financial need, our plan will positively impact thousands of players and their families for years to come.”
The 2016 Hockey Canada Foundation Gala & Golf left a $269,000 legacy in the province of Nova Scotia.
“The opportunity to support the building of Merlis Belsher Place and ensure it is sledge-hockey accessible helps secure much-needed minor hockey ice time for Saskatoon, and opens up the possibilities for growth in para hockey and the hosting of sledge hockey events in the future,” said Kelly Boes, executive director of the SMHA. “It’s also important for us to continue to support the families in our Association who have run into financial difficulties so they can continue to be active and present in their children’s hockey activities. Something simple like taxi vouchers or assistance with team fees can make a big difference for families who are experiencing financial strain.”
“The Initiation age – when children are first introduced to organized hockey at the ages of five and six years – is an important time for Saskatchewan Hockey Association to make a positive impression on the kids and their families. Targeting Initiation programming in northern communities means we’re investing in those communities not only next season, but for seasons to come,” said Kelly McClintock, general manager of the SHA. “Cross-ice hockey has been proven to be a key difference-maker for young kids who are first learning the game; it allows for more puck-touches, it shrinks the game to their size, and overall makes it a fun experience that keeps the boys and girls wanting to come back. We know that sport and the community and sense of purpose you get through sport participation can make a huge difference in the self-esteem and mental health of children and adults alike; working with northern communities we are looking to bring the gift of the game to more children at that key Initiation age.”
The two-day event features a star-studded gala, being hosted at TCU Place on June 19, where Canada’s national teams who have won gold at IIHF and IPC world championships throughout the season are celebrated. Four more events remain on the calendar that qualify – the IIHF Women’s World Championship in Plymouth, Mich., March 31-April 7; the 2017 IPC World Para Hockey Championship in Gangneung, South Korea, April 11-20; the 2017 IIHF U18 World Championship in Poprad and Spisska Nova Ves, Slovakia, April 13-23; and the 2017 IIHF World Championship in Paris, France, and Cologne, Germany, May 5-21. A celebrity golf tournament will follow on June 20 at The Willows Golf & Country Club.
A cornerstone component of the Hockey Canada Foundation Gala & Golf is the honouring of the Distinguished Honourees of the Order of Hockey in Canada. First introduced in 2012, the Order of Hockey in Canada honours a select number of individuals annually whose role or service in the game in recognized as extraordinary in Canada. The 2017 Distinguished Honourees of the Order of Hockey in Canada include Scotty Bowman, Murray Costello, and Fran Rider.
The Hockey Canada Foundation also announced that Saskatchewan natives Mike Babcock (Saskatoon, Sask./Toronto, NHL) and Todd McLellan (Melville, Sask./Edmonton, NHL) will serve as honorary co-chairs of the 2017 Hockey Canada Foundation Gala & Golf.
The local steering committee is working with Hockey Canada, the Hockey Canada Foundation, and Saskatoon Sports Tourism on the event.