Thunder Challenge keeps kids in hockey 0
Though the WHL Thunder Challenge offers hard hitting hockey-as the players vie for team spots-the popular Crowsnest Pass September event is as much about tremendous hockey as it is about keeping youth in the sport.
The Lethbridge Hurricanes, Calgary Hitmen and Kootenay Ice are once again ready to rock the Coleman Sportsplex on September 14, 15 and 16.
"They're battling, it's aggressive, lots of screaming and yelling in the crowd when they score and there's some big body checks," explained Chad Petrone, one of the organizers.
Not only is the WHL Challenge an important community event, the games play a crucial role for Crowsnest Pass Minor Hockey players.
"It's our major fundraiser for the year," explained Petrone. "It pays for all of our ice for the year, which in turn keeps our registration costs down for kids."
Compared to other hockey organizations, Petrone noted that Crowsnest Pass Minor Hockey is one of the lowest-if not the lowest-when it comes to registration fees.
"The team spirit, the community spirit makes me proud, but we do this simply so a seven-year-old kid who wants to play hockey doesn't have to be denied because it costs so much," he said.
The Coleman Sportsplex is a sight to be seen when packed and Petrone said everyone gets into the spirit.
"(The kids) love watching the game and they're running around the rink, hearing the boards being banged around when those big guys hit," Petrone explained.
With more tickets to be sold, he said people need to know that the WHL Thunder Challenge is a great opportunity.
"Most organizations don't have three hockey games from the WHL in their town," he said.
After getting the teams down here to play, Petrone said it is crucial that they are treated like hockey royalty.
Drinks in the dressing room, a home-cooked meal, donated meals at restaurants, it's all part of the package, explained Petrone.
"They love it; we treat those teams really well because we appreciate it and we try to treat them the best we can," Petrone explained.
Buying tickets to the Thunder Challenge in advance will give people the chance to win $1,000. Tickets bought at the door only get people into the event.
Whereas the game pitting the Lethbridge Hurricanes against the Calgary Hitmen is always hard-hitting, the Kootenay Ice is coming off a strong season.
After the Thunder Challenge, Crowsnest Minor Hockey is hosting a 3on3 hockey tournament on Sept. 21.
Twelve teams-novice, atom and Pee Wee players-are coming in from Lethbridge the Elk Valley and right here in the Crowsnest Pass.
"It's not just about minor hockey," Petrone said. "We help support other things in the community and we're going to try to make that more prevalent in the future."
For all kids registered in the 2011/2012 hockey season, they will be receiving a free power skating clinic courtesy of the WHL Thunder Challenge.
Game 1-starting at 7 p.m.-pits the Kootenay Ice against the Lethbridge Hurricanes on Sept. 14.
Then, the Lethbridge Hurricanes battle the Hitmen Saturday evening at 7 p.m. Finally, the Hitmen will challenge the Ice on Sunday at 2 p.m.
Tickets can be purchased at Coleman Remedy RX, Copy Magic, Servus Credit Union and Crockets Trading Company.
In addition, other businesses are giving away a free ticket with a minimum purchase. These businesses include Copy Magic, Neat N' Nifty, Remedy RX, Bamboo Bistro/Black Rock, the Source, Border Building.