VANCOUVER, B.C – The Canucks on Campus fundraising event was a massive success for the UBC Men’s and Women’s hockey teams. A total of $26,917 was raised to help both hockey programs. The Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre was packed with hockey enthusiasts watching the Canucks in a special open practice. Although the Canucks have struggled this season, you wouldn’t know it by all the smiles and happy children in attendance.
UBC is often a landing spot for Canucks practices during the season, when Rogers Arena is unavailable. It’s not a surprise to see the Canucks using the university ice to get in an important practice before a big game. Canucks captain, Henrik Sedin is always appreciative of the support from the UBC community.
“It’s great, we’ve always had a close connection with these guys. From the lockout, we were able to practice with them. They’ve always been there for us, so it’s great to be able to do this for them.”
Vancouver Canucks goalie, Ryan Miller, helped the Canucks defeat the Dallas Stars in a thrilling 5-4 overtime win on Sunday afternoon. Miller knows that not all Canucks fans are able to make the journey downtown to see the Canucks in action.
“We use this facility a fair amount,” admitted Miller. “It’s good for us to come interact a little bit more. I think it opens us up to a different part of town and spreads us out a little bit where some people might not get downtown and see us practice or play. They can come out here and enjoy it.”
Following the open practice portion, all three teams competed in a mini skills and shootout competition. UBC goaltender, Danielle Wierenga, held her own against the mighty Canucks and her fellow UBC Thunderbirds. The first year puck stopper stopped Canucks forwards, Bo Horvat and Markus Granlund, and really soaked up the event.
“It’s just really fun,” said Wierenga. “It’s cool to be in that kind of an environment where you can play with these guys, and just have fun with it, and it feels good. At the end of the day, it’s just a really awesome experience.”
UBC’s Kathleen Cahoon is tied for first overall in Canada West scoring with 5 goals on the season. She was in fine form during the shootout and delivered a sensational sick deke that left jaws dropped everywhere.
“It was super fun,” said Cahoon. “It was a really cool experience to get out there with the Canucks and the men’s team. It’s the first time the women’s team has ever been with the Canucks on the ice, so it was a really cool experience for everyone.”
Despite being a Calgary native, Cahoon has always supported the Canucks. Meeting some of the players she has grown up watching will be a life long highlight she won’t soon forget. Being starstruck wasn’t an option for Cahoon and the Thunderbirds, the Canucks were down to earth and left a positive impression.
“They gave us a couple of little taps,” revealed Cahoon. “Bo (Horvat) came around and shook everybody’s hand and introduced himself to us. That was pretty cool, he’s a pretty big guy. They were super nice and just really encouraging. I’ve grown up watching the Canucks all my life and they’re my favourite team, so it was like a dream come true being able to go on the ice with them.”
Canucks on Campus has helped both UBC hockey programs. Going forward, both programs will be able to provide terrific opportunities for UBC hockey athletes. Everything gets a boost, from scholarships, recruitment, travel, hockey equipment, nutritionists, health, ice time, and many other areas.
North Vancouver native, Danielle Wierenga knows how important the fundraiser was for UBC.
“It’s really important, it’s really cool to get a lot of the community out and see them supporting us. It’s just a great event overall for that, because it shows the passion of the community. Everyone wants to come out and help support our teams, and it’s a great feeling.”
There is early speculation that the Canucks on Campus fundraiser could become a yearly event to help support the UBC family. Obviously a lot planning goes into organizing an event like this. If this occurs every year, you won’t have any complaints from Cahoon.
“I think that’d be awesome,” said an excited Cahoon. “I don’t know if it’s in the works at all. It’s the first annual, so maybe we can get it going again. Hopefully in the future we can maybe do even more smaller events, or anything with them is good.”