Last year’s Thunder Challenge was packed full of hockey fans and fanatics. This year’s Thunder Challenge is free to the public. The event begins on the September 13th weekend with the Calgary Hitmen, Lethbridge Hurricanes and the Kootenay Ice.
Pass Herald Staff
The fifth annual Thunder Challenge kicks off on Friday, September 13th 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 14th the Hurricanes hit the ice again, this time facing off against fan favourites the Calgary Hitmen.
On Sunday, September 15th, the Hitmen faced off against the Kootenay Ice for a final.
Rory Snider, Chair of the Thunder Challenge Committee, “because of all the tournaments we used to have we’ve been able to use those people to help with the Thunder Challenge. It’s a big event that requires a lot of volunteer resources”.
“Overall, the event runs very smoothly in past years, and we were all pleased with the turnout and support for our local minor hockey organization,” said Snider.
“Even though we are competing with the nice summer weather and the start of hunting season, we expect a good turnout for the games as this is the first year the event is free to the pubic.”
This is the first year the organization is offering FREE admission to the games. This is in appreciation of the communities continue support of minor hockey in the Crows nest Pass.
Snider said that due to the quality of the hockey and the support of local businesses, the weekend has always been an overall success, despite lower than expected fan turnout. The organizing team is hoping with free admission the stands will be packed to overflowing.
According to Snider, “we expect between 700 and 900 fans to fill the stands for each of the three games in the Crowsnest Pass Minor Hockey fundraiser”.
Snider said those who did attend were treated to quality hockey as well as fun intermission activities.
Much the same as past games, intermission activities include a soft puck contest, and a potential puck-shooting contest in which the winner shoots into small target on the ice and you win a prize.
Lethbridge Dodge will parade a new vehicle 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.
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, in the past,” said Snider. “We had a lot of great support from local businesses, and we really appreciate everything they did.”
Another hit for the weekend is the progressive 50/50 contest. As of this issue the winner is guaranteed $10,000 and if the organization sells all the tickets a take home prize of $25,000.
There be no traditional 50/50 sales in the stands per game. According to Snider, “this year we are just selling progressive 50/50, which you can purchase from any minor hockey parent. We will also sell progressive 50/50 during each game. The winning ticket will be announced in the last 10 minutes of the third period of the final game on Sunday”. Progressive 50/50 ticket will be sold at a booth in the area.
“In the past we had a lot of great support for that,” said Snider. “We want to especially thank all the local volunteers who gave countless hours to make it possible”.
According to Snider, “we had a huge thank you from the three WHL teams who came out and said that if we decided to do a fifth Thunder Challenge, they would gladly come out.”
The total amount of funds raised through the last challenge was approximately $23,000. The money is used to keep registration fees low and offer the young hockey players specialized camps and programs to allow them to be the best hockey players they can be.