As a young boy in Winnipeg, it was natural to learn to skate and play hockey at a very early age, albeit on outdoor rinks. I remember putting our skates on at home and skating down the block on the frozen street to get to our outdoor rink in Transcona.
But it amazed me to find, at 10 years old, moving to Cranbrook, BC, aka Lotusland, that there was such a large minor hockey system. Cranbrook was and will always be a hockey town, defined decades ago by the Springs and the Murdochs, later the Cranbrook Royals, the Cranbrook Colts, Steve Yzerman, Tom Renney, Colin Patterson, the Neidermayers, many other players, coaches, sponsors, volunteers, far too numerous to mention, and then the Kootenay Ice, and Ed Chynoweth, the Memorial Cup, names like Jaffray, Stoll, Dawes, Blackburn, Polak, McGill, Reinhart, McNab…it goes on and on and on.
Before outdoor trails, our fabulous theatre and entertainment programs…hockey defined our city. We have been branded by our hockey. Our fans are passionate. Western Financial Place would not be here without hockey.
As a long time Rotarian (and obviously, hockey fan), having the opportunity for our club to work with the Kootenay Ice under Jeff Chynoweth during playoff seasons in the past became a great fund-raiser for our club, while also helping the team to raise money for its educational scholarships. It allowed our members to work hands-on and engage with the hockey fans of Cranbrook and share fellowship, a big part of who we are as Rotarians.
When the Ice new owners arrived, I spoke to Matt Cockell about retaining our playoff 50/50 relationship. Matt would not give us a commitment at that time, as he was new and exploring all options. At the end of the day he came back and asked our Rotary Club to take on the 50/50, not just for playoffs but for the entire season. Both parties decided to try it for a year.
We were not sure we had enough volunteers to carry the load for a full season, but as Rotarians we rose to the challenge. This past Summer we agreed to sign a three year commitment with the Ice to carry on with the 50/50 raffle. It’s been a big win-win. The Ice education fund profits, our club raises funds to be used to help our many Rotary projects, and the fans have a chance to win jackpots, which have increased since the arrival of a new system last year.
We as Rotarians continue to give back to our community. We have a vested interest in having the Kootenay Ice in Cranbrook.
There are hockey fans that we can help by doing our part to allow them to see the best junior hockey in the world. We can do this now by helping to increase attendance and helping those less fortunate to get to those games.
Thursday at the regular meeting of our members, the Rotary Club of Cranbrook committed $10,000 towards Kootenay Ice tickets to assist the Green Bay Committee in their efforts to increase attendance at Kootenay Ice games, and to show that we, as Rotarians, and as citizens of our fabulous city, care about the WHL in Cranbrook. Rotary International’s theme for 2018-19 is “BE THE INSPIRATION. “This could not be any more fitting than at at time like this! It’s what we do as Rotarians…we lead, and we inspire !
Ed Murray is President (2018-19) of the Rotary Club of Cranbrook