Hockey is as much about the product off the ice as playing the game and a Yukon peewee hockey team is learning that through community involvement and giving back.
Peewee team PNW Group in the Whitehorse Minor Hockey Association, who also recently represented the territory at the Bell Capital Cup in Ottawa, have sent in a submission for the Good Deeds Cup.
In its second year, the program co-ordinated by Hockey Canada and Chevrolet puts the call out to peewee-aged teams from across the country to show how they give back to their community.
“This age group, they really need that reminder of community spirit, work ethic and be appreciative of how lucky they are. Hockey kids are fortunate,” PNW head coach Mike Nemeth said.
So the team decided to participate by highlighting their good deeds in a minute-long video. Nemeth said the team was incredibly enthusiastic to have these opportunities to help out in Whitehorse. First the team worked with Habitat for Humanity doing outdoor labour, shovelling at a housing site for the non-profit organization.
Next, Nemeth said the team volunteered at the Whitehorse Food Bank during the busy holiday season. The food bank is also the team’s charity of choice if they are to advance in the Good Deeds Cup and receive prizes which include donations to the charity of choice.
While volunteering at the food bank, Nemeth also broke the news to the team that they would be travelling to Ottawa for the tournament, making them even more excited to give back.
“I’m really excited about it, we put a lot of work into it,” Nemeth said of the team’s efforts. “It sure shows the work and dedication of this team.”
Finally, on Dec. 21 the young hockey players made the trip to the Copper Ridge Place care facility to sing Christmas carols.
“They had us sing our two songs seven times over and the kids did it enthusiastically every time,” Nemeth said.
These three volunteer opportunities had great turnouts, Nemeth said, with all of the players wanting to take part. It wasn’t only a chance for them, but also their parents to get involved, he noted.
It was the trip to Ottawa that served as a major motivating factor for the players, Nemeth said, and made them feel incredibly fortunate and needing to help out in their hometown to pay it forward for this once-in-a-lifetime experience.
“They felt lucky they were going and so they were enthusiastic about good deeds. How else would you get 12 year olds to go to a nursing home to sing Christmas carols?” Nemeth said. “It’s pretty incredible that they felt so fortunate that they felt the need to give back with this trip and the Good Deeds Cup was a perfect way to direct the energy.”
While in Ottawa, the team had the chance to play on the Canadian Tire Centre ice, home of the Ottawa Senators, in the Canada 150 division final. They also skated on the outdoor rink outside Parliament Hill, took in an Ottawa Senators game and went on a tour of the Parliament building.
Upon returning home with the silver medal, the Good Deeds Cup deadline was New Year’s Eve and they had to upload their video for the consideration of the judges.
Having already submitted a video for the Capital Cup contest, Nemeth said with more experience they were able to make this one with a higher production value and more technical elements.
From all the entries nation-wide, 10 semifinalists will be selected by Jan. 15. At that point the public will have a say, based on the number of views for the submission videos on YouTube.
These totals will determine the final three and judges will select the winner taking into account the number of video views as well as the impact of the teams’ good deeds on the community.
The ultimate winner will receive $15,000 for the team’s charity of choice, a winners’ ceremony in their hometown as well as a one-minute feature on national television.
Last year in the program’s debut, close to 100 submissions were received for the Cup.