- What a great day! The Kelowna Rockets Alumni Golf Tournament met, if not exceeded, every ones expectations. Hosted at the Harvest Golf and Country Club, 165 golfers had a great day of weather, laughs and raised money for Kelowna General Hospital. What makes this tournament the success it is are the current and former players that show up year after year. The presence of big names like Shea Weber, Josh Gorges and Duncan Keith can't be overstated. Hockey fans want to come out and rub shoulders with these players that enjoy huge success at the NHL level. Unfortunately Luke Schenn and Tyler Myers couldn't make it, but having the 'big three' gives this tournament the 'cred' it deserves.
- Why is this tournament such a success year after year? She won't say it, but Anny Hamilton (Gavin Hamilton's wife) puts in countless hours making the golf tournament and the alumni hockey game on Sunday the spectacle it has grown to be. Anny is more of a behind the scenes person and frankly doesn't like to receive the credit for how this event has prospered over the years. But make no mistake, without her tireless work this 'Alumni Weekend' doesn't even come close to being the envy it has now become across the entire Western Hockey League.
- As the emcee for the event, I heard nothing but positive feedback from the participates on how well the tournament is ran. Everyone loves the course, the weather, and the banquet under the big white tent make for a spectacular day. It doesn't hurt when alumnus Nolan Yonkman steps up to the mic and entertains the crowd while he does his best impression of an auctioneer. Yonkman pulls it off with ease and gets top dollar for the merchandise that is auctioned off.
- By the way, all the proceeds from the Alumni Weekend go towards the Pediatric Ward at Kelowna General Hospital. This was year three of a commitment to raise 200 thousand dollars. Heading into this weekend, 105 thousand had already been raised before the first golf ball was even struck. Impressive.To me, the funds raised over such a short period of time really tells the story of how good of an event this has become.
- As is always the case when I emcee an event, Rockets GM Bruce Hamilton takes a couple of swipes at me that always provide a chuckle from the crowd. I like to use the line, 'Bruce and I have a love and hate relationship. I love him and he hates me'. Truth be told, I really appreciate the man who treats me so well behind the scenes. Do we have our disagreements? Sure. Is he a fan of this blog? Nope. But Bruce had some nice things to say about me at the banquet after throwing a few darts my way at the expense of a few laughs. Those are from the heart and I appreciate him sharing them publicly.
- He finds it uncomfortable, and frankly I don't blame him. Shea Weber doesn't like to talk about his new contract and frankly I think he wishes it would all go away. But as a media person it is tough not to ask him a few questions about it considering he will be the highest paid player in the NHL this season. What I enjoyed most about my time with Weber on Thursday was just sitting in his golf cart, shooting the breeze while he was eating his sandwich. To me, those are the valuable times and relationships that are built with these elite alumni players that go on to great things at the NHL level.
- Josh Gorges is still my favourite alumni interview. He is so well spoken. The Montreal Canadiens d-man has started up the NHL Players Association 'Goals and Dreams' - Helping kids play hockey program with Kelowna Minor Hockey. This program allows kids that want to play the game, but don't have the financial means to do so. There is no better spokesman for the program locally that Gorges.
- The picture above is 20 year-old Spencer Main signing a few jerseys at the golf tournament. I am pleased to say that Main has been cleared and is ready to play after missing the majority of last season with a concussion. Main tells me he has been symptom free for three months and has never felt better.
- Myles Bell is slowly starting to become one of my favourite current Rockets. I just love his personality. And can he hit a golf ball! If you thought his slap shot was hard, you should witness his drive off the tee box. Impressive.
- The best interview of the day likely was my conversation with James McEwan. The 25 year-old told me he is retiring. The fact that McEwan walks away from the game with a tremendous attitude makes me feel good about his long term plan for success in the new ventures that lay in front of him. McEwan seems like he's focused and truly is looking forward to the next stage of his life. He will always be remembered as a heart and soul player who excited the Kelowna crowd with his toe-to-toe tilts with Vancouver Giants spark plug Garet Hunt.
- It looks like Dylan Hood will chase his dream of playing pro hockey. After one year at the University of Calgary, Hood is leaving the U of C and will try his luck in the ECHL this season.
- Don't forget the Alumni Game goes Sunday at the CNC at 5 o'clock. Doors open at 4.
Friday, July 27, 2012
Rockets Alumni Golf Tourney is a HUGE success
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