Funds raised will go towards player scholarships
Getting opposing sides to agree to do something is a rare feat, let alone all five Saskatchewan-based clubs in the Western Hockey League.
The Moose Jaw Warriors, Prince Albert Raiders, Regina Pats, Saskatoon Blades and Swift Current Broncos have put their rivalries aside to come together for the Hockey Harvest Lottery, which will raise funds for each team’s WHL alumni scholarship funds.
“The process to put this together goes back to a number of discussions that the teams had during the spring, where the business managers for each of the clubs brought together different ideas,” Raiders business manager Michael Scissons said. “With the success that the Edmonton Oilers had with their online 50/50 during the Stanley Cup playoffs (which raised money for the team’s Community Foundation), that really started to springboard the discussions that all of us were having.
“To my knowledge, this is the first time that all five Saskatchewan teams have come together for one cause. The league’s really excited about this and hopefully this is something that we can see done with the teams that are in the other provinces and states.”
In normal seasons, teams will raise money for their education funds through events such as golf tournaments, online jersey auctions or 50/50 raffles.
“I know that for us here in Moose Jaw, our annual alumni golf tournament has raised six figures for the education fund,” Moose Jaw Warriors director, hockey administration James Gallo said. “We’re not sure what’s going to happen this year in terms of 50/50 draws at games, so this lottery is a way for all five teams to make some serious money that will go towards the education fund.
“I’ve been around the league for a long time and I’ve seen guys like Sam Fioretti and Brennen Wray go on from being with the Warriors to pursue higher education towards their career goals. For as much as we talk about the hockey in this league, the education fund is so important in helping to get these guys start off on the right foot.”
For each season that a player spends in the WHL, they are awarded with a one-year post-secondary scholarship that included their tuition fees, textbooks and other compulsory fees.
During the 2019-20 academic year, over 400 players took advantage of the league’s scholarship program.
“It’s something that the WHL is very proud of and having their schooling funded for is something that’s life-changing for a lot of our players,” Scissons said.
“The Raiders spent about $50,000 in September for tuition and books for the first half of the school year and we’ll pay roughly that again here in the second semester. The cost of education is rising all the time, so to have events to help raise funds for the scholarship fund is very important for us.”
The progressive 50/50 lottery, which is being supported by Great Western Brewery, will start at a total jackpot of $75,000.
Tickets for the draw go on sale at 12:01 a.m. on Monday, Nov. 16 and are only available online at whl.ca/hockeyharvestlotto and can be purchased by anyone over the age of 19 that is physically in the province of Saskatchewan at the time of purchase, regardless of their home residence.
The grand prize draw will be held at 1 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 21 in Saskatoon, while an early bird prize draw will take place on Saturday, Nov. 28 at 1 p.m. where the winner will receive a jersey from all five Saskatchewan-based clubs.
“In addition to raising funds for the education funds, I think this lottery will be a good way to keep the teams at the front of the minds for everyone before the season starts on Jan. 8,” Gallo said.
The deadline to buy tickets for the early bird prize is Friday, Nov. 27 and Sunday, Dec. 20 for the grand prize draw.
For more information on the Hockey Harvest Lottery, visit www.whl.ca/hockeyharvestlotto or follow @hockeyharvest on Twitter.