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Tuesday Sept. 27th, 2011  
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Quote of the Week
"The biggest highlight for me was being able to see everyone show their support for the Rypien family."
- Rory Snider  
   
   

 

Story
Herald Staff photo
Sue Koentges prepares Crowsnest Pass Minor Hockey Thunder players for the Rick Rypien tribute on Friday, September 16th, the first night of the Thunder Challenge at the Crowsnest Sports Complex in Coleman.
 
The third annual Thunder Challenge kicked off on Friday, September 16th at the Crowsnest Sports Complex in Coleman with an action packed game between the Lethbridge Hurricanes and Kootenay Ice, setting the tone for a weekend of solid hockey.
On Saturday, September 17th the Hurricanes hit the ice again, this time facing off against fan favourites the
Calgary Hitmen.
After three periods, 53 shots fired and 25 saves by goaltender Brandon Glover, the Hitmen came out on top with a 4-2 victory over the Hurricanes.
Alex Gogolev, Justin Kirsch, Nathan MacMaster and Greg Chase all landed goals for the Hitmen, extending their pre-season winning streak to four games.
On Sunday, September 18th, the Hitmen faced off against the Kootenay Ice for a final game that ended in a 10-0 win for Calgary, putting them at a 5-1 pre-season record.
Kirsch fired a hat trick and finished the game with five points for three goals and two assists, with Jimmy Bubnick and John Lawrence scoring twice each and Chase, Gogolev and Jaynen Rissling scoring the remaining three goals.
Goaltender Mike Snider made 27 saves, making the win a shutout.
“All three teams left very happy and said they would be glad to come back again next year,” said Rory Snider, Chair of the Thunder Challenge Committee.
Snider said that due to the quality of the hockey and the support of local businesses, the weekend was an overall success, despite lower than expected fan turnout.
Organizers originally expected between 800 and 1,000 fans to fill the stands for each of the three games in the Crowsnest Pass Minor Hockey fundraiser, but were surprised by an average of just over 500 for each game.
Snider attributes some of the low turnout to the nice weather over the course of the weekend, as well as a couple of weddings that took place at the same time.
“It was unfortunate because we had some real good prizes to hand out,” said Snider.
“It would have been nice to have more of a local flavour, but things still went really well, regardless.”
He said those who did attend were treated to quality hockey as well as fun intermission activities.
One of the activities was the soft puck contest, where Lethbridge Dodge paraded a 2011 Dodge Journey around the rink during the intermission between the second and third periods for each game, and participants attempted to land a soft hockey puck through the SUV’s sunroof.
“The kids really got into it,” said Snider, adding that half of the proceeds from sales of the $2 pucks were awarded to the contest winner, and the remainder went to minor hockey.
Blairmore’s Black Rock Pizza also handed out free pizzas to the loudest fan, and awarded gift certificates to those who landed pucks in empty pizza boxes on the ice.
 

“Everything went off real well,” said Snider. “We had a lot of great support from local businesses, and we really appreciate everything they did.”
Another hit of the weekend was the progressive 50/50 contest, which saw local woman Betty Simoneau take home $7,210.
Snider said the success of the 50/50 was thanks in large part to several local people and minor hockey parents who took it upon themselves to sell tickets for the contest.
“We had a lot of great support for that,” said Snider.
“They generated a lot of excitement.”
Snider said the biggest highlight of the weekend for him was having Wes Rypien and Wes Rypien Jr., father and brother of late NHL hockey star Rick Rypien, drop the puck for the official kickoff to the tournament on Friday night.
“The biggest highlight for me was being able to see everyone show their support for the Rypien family,” said Snider.
Members of the Crowsnest Pass Thunder minor hockey teams wore jerseys with Rypien name bands across the back, and everyone present observed a moment of silence in
Rypien’s honour.
“We were very happy the family was able to come out,” said Snider.
“We know how hard this has been for them – losing Rick has been very hard for the whole community.”
“Rick was a big part of the Thunder Challenge,” said Snider. “He was always good with helping us out and generating money for minor hockey – he loved to help the kids.”
Snider said he was elated to see the outpouring of support from the community to the Rypiens.
“I don’t think the family realizes that they are heroes within our association, as well as our community, just as much as Rick was,” he said.
The total amount of funds raised through the tournament is still being calculated, and should be made public this week.
Snider said plans are already being made for next year’s tournament, and that minor hockey will be approaching booster clubs from Lethbridge, Calgary and Kootenay in order to generate support.
“We will be pushing harder for involvement by outside communities next year,” said Snider.
“We’re really looking forward to it, and all the teams said they are looking forward to coming back.”
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