As the regular season comes to a close, the Canucks hockey club has lots to celebrate. One of the things they are most proud of is the hours spent by players in the community. Over the course of the year, players spent hours on their own time out at different community events. Each player spent a minimum of two hours giving back to the community that helped shape them as hockey players and young men. The Canucks spent a total of 73 hours assisting with community carnivals, minor hockey practices and other various events in St. James. The players enjoyed their time in the community, especially spending time chatting and hanging out with young players. Assistant captain Nick Stire shared his thoughts. “The coolest part was how excited the kids were to see us. What they didn’t realize was how exciting it was for us to see their enthusiasm and spend some time with them. It really brought memories back of when we were young and that was the best part”. Team president Justin Steeves echoed Stire’s reflection. “Getting players involved in the community was one of our three major initiatives we had when we took this team over. We felt it was extremely important to give back to community that gave us so much,” Steeves said. “I was very proud of the players for the enthusiasm they showed about going out to these events. They were really excited about it and understood what it meant to the community.” Next year, the Canucks are planning on doing Christmas hampers and their goal is to break the 100 hour mark!
Along with community events, the Canucks involved St. James minor hockey in the game day experience. The team introduced the “Little Nucker” flag program on home games in which one minor hockey league player between the ages of 5-9 led the team out carrying the Canucks flag. Head of Hockey Operations and General Manager Gavin Mclachlan was beaming when asked about it. “It was just awesome to see not only the smile on the kids faces as they skated around with the flag, but the excitement and joy from their parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles that watched them snapping pictures and taking videos of their child’s experience.” Mclachlan added, “We want the community to know this is their team, and if we can involve them in some way we can build that connection between the community and the Canucks!” The “Little Nucker” flag program was a great success as a total of 23 young hockey players took part. This number will increase as the Canucks head into the playoffs.
Along with the carrying the flag, twelve different 7 and 8 year old teams from St. James participated in shootouts throughout the season. A total of 36 players took part in the shootouts which took place in the first intermission. Along with the shootouts, the Canucks shared their dressing room with approximately 20 St. James minor hockey teams in the community. The Canucks set up name bars of the young hockey players in each stall so when they arrived they would see their name and have their very own stall to get dressed in.
Lastly the Canucks welcomed 600 fans in attendance for “community night”. A night where minor hockey players from all over St. James came to watch the Canucks defeat the Twins 8-0. The team gave away 25 prize packages as young hockey players walked away with Jet’s jerseys, Canucks jerseys, framed pictures of Jets players along with many other swag.
The Canucks look forward to building on their community connections next year and will continue to strengthen their connection with the community. The Canucks are a team that belongs to the people of St. James. We are excited to build on that relationship for years to come!