Inaugural Bombers Golf Classic fundraiser
Reeti Meenakshi Rohilla - Staff Writer
The Sioux Lookout Bombers Jr ‘A’ Hockey Club successfully kicked off their first major fundraiser on August 13 with a shotgun start, four-person scramble, golf tournament and a $1,000,000 hole-in-one contest, featuring 22 teams.
Director of Hockey Operations and lead tournament organizer, Austen Hoey shared, “We wanted to run a golf tournament because we wanted to take advantage of our amazing golf course at the Sioux Lookout Golf and Curling Club. In addition, there are so many golfers who are also hockey fans in Sioux Lookout so putting the two together seemed like a no brainer.”
The Bombers aim to raise $150,000 by next July through their Bombers Builders campaign to cover overall startup and establishing costs. With a $600 registration fee per team, the fundraising golf tournament is estimated to have raised around $25,000, shared an August 15 Bombers news release.
The news release states that the $1,000,000 hole-in-one contest, sponsored by Slate Falls Air, was one of the highlights of the event. This contest allowed a golfer whose shot landed closest to the hole on Hole 13, the opportunity to shoot for the 190 yard, million-dollar prize. Sioux Lookout resident Luc Beaulne won this opportunity, narrowly missing out on the grand prize by mere yards. “After tournament play was completed, in front of more than a 100 golfers, volunteers and spectators, Beaulne made one attempt from a predetermined distance from the ninth hole of the course. His ball whistled straight toward the target but ultimately fell mere yards short of the hole.”
Beaulne said, “Either you’re going to hit it, or you’re not, and it’s going to go in, or it isn’t. It was exciting though, obviously. How many people get a chance for a million dollars?” He added, “It’s nice to see Sioux Lookout get a junior hockey club back and that’s why everyone is out here and hopefully we can resurrect a great program in this town and it’ll be something that everybody can enjoy.”
Slate Falls Air had also sponsored two $10,000 hole in one contests at hole number four, which went unclaimed.
“The Bombers were also excited to have TSN hockey analyst and former NHL executive, Craig Button counted among the 88 golfers. Button interacted with team personnel and fellow golfers throughout the day and offered some words of encouragement to the team and urged the community of Sioux Lookout to support the young franchise during the provided steak dinner at the clubhouse,” shared the news release.
The overall first place winners of the tournament were Matt Monkman, Ryan Dasno, Andy Brunton, and Whitney Van Horne. Titus Morris, Ryan Raspado, Ronan Raspado and Gene Duncan took the second place, with the third place awarded to Bill Melander, Gerson Agustin, Don Ferrara and Lui Zapitelli.
A member of the first-place winning team, Andy Brunton said, “It feels really good. Everyone played really good today and it is a just a total team effort and it felt really good.” He added, “It was a great day and the prizes are awesome, I just really appreciate them putting this on for us and having the chance to play in it.”
Another golfer, Charlie Roy said, “The organizer is doing a super job, everything is running smoothly, and it’s been a lot of fun. We’re playing with friends and co-workers and the other team is my relatives, so it’s been a real good time.”
The Sioux Lookout Bombers will take to the ice upon the return of the Superior International Junior Hockey League (SIJHL) to Sioux Lookout in September 2022. Sioux Lookout’s last SIJHL team, the Flyers, operated from 2008 to 2012.
Sioux Lookout Bombers Board member Joe Cassidy said that with the Bombers Golf Classic having received plenty of community support, they hope to make this an annual fundraiser that would continue to support team operations going forward. Cassidy said, “The community support for this has just been fantastic, the fact that we sold out in our first year. A lot of the businesses in town have been fantastic to deal with, donating prizes, supporting teams, sponsoring the holes.” He added, “Basically what we are looking for is to start fundraising so that we can raise money to pay for some of our entry fee, expansion fee that we need to give to the SIJHL to start our season next year (including other costs). So, that’s basically what this is going to be going to, a lot of our start-up costs in getting things going, hoping to make this an annual event and keep that going and then the fundraising can go to running the team every year and all the extra costs that are associated with it.”
The news release shared, “Tournament organizers are thankful for the teams that competed and all of the sponsors including the title sponsor, Morgan Fuels. As with any community event, it would not have been possible without the support of numerous volunteers as well.”
Morgan Fuels President Darrell Morgan said that they are a huge supporter of hockey and wanted to contribute towards bringing the community together for one of the area’s most popular winter sports.
“We are a huge supporter of hockey…and we thought that supporting the junior ‘A’ team would be a good thing for the community to bring back some good community spirit for hockey, and get the team resurrected and get it off and running for 2022, and then supporting the golf tournament was a natural step for us, as well as helping the team get off the ground and kick start the fundraising campaign for the Sioux Bombers,” said Morgan. “I think it’s a good community thing to have and it’s a good community event that brings people together around the sport that we enjoy in the wintertime and that was the main reason for doing this, bring something back to the community for activities in the winter,” he added.
Morgan appreciated the input from event organizers and said that he looks forward to seeing the Bombers play. “I hope the community supports it. We are looking forward to seeing it off the ground. The organizing committee has done a fantastic job up to this point and I think we’ve got a good core group of people that are engaged and involved in the running of it. So, I’m really looking forward to it and I think it will be really good for the community,” he said.
Cassidy said that this golf tournament was their first official large-scale fundraiser. “We’ve been selling merchandise and what not for a couple of months now, but now it’s summer and we had the opportunity to get out and get this event organized, so this is kind of the kick-off. We’re hoping to keep some of the fundraising events moving forward and keep building on the momentum here until puck drop 2022,” said Cassidy. He added, “This winter will be a bit of scouting and looking at some players and hopefully we’ll start to formulate who we want and we can build on that, getting a coach on board, somewhat soon in some capacity will be key, but then we’ll be meeting the whole time. We’ll be assessing, we’ve got to look at billets, we’ve got to look at transportation. We’ve got lots on the go that we’ve got to accomplish over the next year and a bit.”
The Bombers aim to have their coach in place by April 2022, begin their prospects camps in May 2022, and officially start signing players in June 2022. With the success of the golf event, and the intention to continue this fundraiser in upcoming years, Hoey commented, “I’d like to say that we are super excited to hold the event next year, and to make it even better than this year. Thank you to the community of Sioux Lookout, and Go Bombers Go!”
Matt Cairns, who is a Bombers board member and the owner of Slate Falls Air, said, “The Bombers would like to thank all our volunteers that came out today to help out, obviously, the organizer Austen Hoey did a fantastic job here today, and the Sioux Lookout Golf and Curling Club and…our sponsors and golfers as well.”
The Bombers media representative James Brohm shared that they are looking forward to celebrating October 23 as Hockey Day in Sioux Lookout. The day will feature a mini hockey camp for minor hockey players, a coaching clinic, and a game between the Dryden GM Ice Dogs and the Thunder Bay North Stars at the Sioux Lookout Memorial Arena (The Hangar), he added. Further details on all the activities and tickets for the game will be available on the Sioux Lookout Bombers Facebook page.