For 16 minor hockey players Saturday, January 23rd was a day they will never forget. The Alberni Valley Bantam Warriors were the winners of this year’s Poster Contest sponsored by CBC, Canucks Centre and BC Hockey. The team detailed in their submission how they raised money for a local family at Christmas and also for children in need through a teddy bear toss. Their poster and story combination was deemed the best example of team spirit by the judging panel. The team won a full day experience at GM Place including attendance of the Canucks game, travel and accommodation.
Alberni Valley started their day early, 4am to be exact when a charter bus arrived to drive them to Vancouver. After a long morning of travel they arrived at GM Place where they were treated to a Canucks game day skate. For most of the team this was there first time in GM Place and the large scale of the arena size hit them. Most sat in silence as they admired the skill and speed of the Vancouver players. Next up was a healthy lunch in the Visions Lounge as the boys checked out the Blackhawks practice. Alberni Valley’s manager Alison ensured that all boys ate the nutritious salad as part of their lunch saying “I bet they serve this same salad to the Canucks.” That was convincing enough for most boys to take a couple scoops.
After lunch the boys were in luck as they were given the opportunity to take a tour of the Canucks dressing room. It looked as though luck might not be on their side though as an unexpected elevator stop nearly forced them to miss their visit. Crisis averted as the boys made their way down the Canucks hallway and into their dressing room. If there was anything that could make a group of 16 boys silent this was it. The boys stood speechless before making their way around past each of the Canuck players stalls wide eyed. The Warriors were careful not to step on the logo and potentially jinx the Canucks win streak. Upon exiting the dressing room they passed by a half eaten lunch buffet in which contained the same salad the boys had just eaten, to the delight of their manager.
The boys were free for the afternoon to explore around Vancouver before making their way back to GM Place for the game. They were treated to the ultimate team experience in their own suite at GM Place. Dinner, a Hockey Night in Canada intermission interview and a whole lot of cheering were all in a nights work. After the game, eighteen hours into their day the team ventured down to the players bench where Ryan Johnson, Mason Raymond and Andrew Raycroft were on hand for a meet and greet. The wide eyed trend continued as the boys had their jersey and pictures signed. The players then moved to the back hallways while they waited for their CBC After Hours debut with Scott Oake. While waiting they were treated to high fives and autographs from a number of players including their overwhelming favorite, Roberto Luongo.
With the entire team including coaches packed into the HNIC set, the Alberni Valley Warriors went live on the air with Scott Oake. A snapshot of the contest, run-through of the day and comments from the team rounded out After Hours and the boy’s day came to a close. Leaving GM Place no one would have known the Warriors had been up for 20 hours straight as the adrenaline was still pumping through them.
Once they had a few days to take in the day Warrior’s manager Allison summed the experience for the team; “A perfect trip from start to finish,” she said.
For your chance to be the Canucks Centre 2011 Poster Contest Winner stay tuned to Canucks.com/Grassrootshockey. For more information on this and other programs and contests offered by Canucks Centre please visit our website or call 604 899-7770.Story by Leah Peden, Canucks Centre Student Associate