When opportunity knocks, you’d be smart to answer the door.
When that opportunity involves a small community in the Lake Diefenbaker region hosting an NHL hockey game featuring legends mixing it up with locals, it means getting a chance to make a huge impact and go down in the history books.
That’s exactly what will happen in the village of Beechy on Friday, February 28 when the community rink will play host to the Montreal Canadiens Alumni Tour. Taking to the ice in a special game will be some of the biggest names of Montreal’s past versus the Coteau Valley Bombers, a locally organized team that will surely be remembering their time squaring off against a number of iconic Canadiens.
The special event will help serve as a fundraising effort towards the Beechy rink, which hopes to make a number of upgrades.
Justin Dubasov is the chairperson of the committee that’s planning the historic hockey game, and he says the chance to put together such an event arrived after Montreal came a-callin’.
“We received a phone call from the team’s coordinator who’d been looking for a smaller community to have another game in, as they’re scheduled to be in Saskatoon on the 27th,” said Justin, on the phone with The Outlook. “They were looking online for community fundraisers and Beechy’s rink popped up in the search, and the team’s coordinator called and the rest is history!”
Dubasov says when the committee made the announcement of an NHL alumni game coming to the community of Beechy, the excitement was obvious, but it may have yet to dawn on some people the true scope of what the village has entered into leading up to when the puck is dropped.
“I think the excitement is there, but I don’t quite know if everybody truly knows the impact it’s going to have on the community in the timeframe leading up to it,” said Justin. “We consider ourselves fairly lucky and we hope that we can put on a first-class event. I think there was some disbelief, for sure. ‘Why are they coming here?’ was a common question. (laughs) We’ve had a lot of phone calls, emails, and text messages with a lot of interested people from not only Beechy but the surrounding area to see when they can get their hands on some tickets.”
With the big game just over three months away, there’s plenty of time to get excited, but there’s also plenty of work to do to ensure that Beechy is ready by the time the Canadiens arrive in town.
“Man, what isn’t there to do?” Dubasov noted. “Getting the rink ready, for one. These don’t come free of charge, that’s for sure. We’ve had to do some soliciting of sponsors, and ticket sales so far, and really anything we can do to generate some income before the day comes in order to make sure we’ve got that hard cost covered. As far as the day goes, we’ve got a supper planned and Kelly Taylor, a local comedian is coming down to help us out with the day’s events. Parking is another thing as well as shuttles to and from the rink because we just don’t have the parking space to accommodate 800 potential patrons at the arena. There are a lot of logistic things we’ve had to figure out around town and inside the rink to make sure that we can accommodate as many people as possible.”
With much work to do before the big game, the call has been put out to gather volunteers. Anyone interested in lending their time and effort can email firstname.lastname@example.org and the committee will find you a job to do during the events.
Fans looking to get their hands on some tickets have their choice of two options. General admission tickets for $30 give you access to the game as well as a post-game after party with comedian Kelly Taylor and a silent auction. VIP tickets priced at $150 give you those same perks as well as a number of others, including a meet and greet with the Canadiens alumni, a VIP supper and cocktails, and access to a private lounge and overhead seating for the game.
So far, a number of Montreal alumni have been revealed to be hitting the ice in the Beechy rink.
“We have four confirmed names so far,” said Justin. “Steve Shutt is going to be coaching the Montreal team. Travis Moen is confirmed to be playing in the game, as well as Patrice Brisebois, and Richard Sevigny is going to be goalie. Their opponent is going to be a local area team. We’ve put out a bunch of invites to some past Beechy Bombers and community residents who’ve moved elsewhere, and other hockey players over the age of 35 who are in the area.”
Dubasov sees this special game as a landmark occurrence in the village of Beechy’s history, and he isn’t taking the opportunity that’s been placed in front of the community lightly. He hopes the success of it will lead to increased community pride and further prosperity for the local rink.
“I definitely do see it as a landmark event,” said Justin. “These opportunities certainly don’t come to a small town like ours every day, and we hope we can put on a Class 1 event and that people talk about it for years to come. We’re hoping that with the success of the event, we’d like to put any profits that we make towards arena upgrades. The rink has had a few paint jobs here and there and some minor upgrades since it was built in the 1960’s, but we hope to make it more wheelchair accessible and more family friendly, and we hope that we can build a couple more dressing rooms so that we could maybe hold some bigger functions in the future. This event is going to be the major reason why those upgrades may happen, and we really hope that it comes to fruition.”
For more information on this once-in-a-lifetime hockey game including ticket info (general on-sale date November 23), hit up the Beechy committee’s social media page located at facebook.com/beechyevents.