On Friday, Kristy McDonald will slap more shots and take more shifts as pro-hockey player than all of the Vancouver Canucks have so far this NHL season.
Of course, there is no NHL season — not yet, at least.
But there is something else for recreational players and hockey fans like McDonald, who works downtown and plays on two recreational hockey teams out of Burnaby 8 Rinks.
On Nov. 23 at U.B.C.’s Thunderbird Arena, she and 200 other men and women will play in a charity hockey tournament and be treated like pros for the day. Together they will aim to raise $300,000 for Vancouver homeless shelters and will skate alongside NHL alumni Dave Babych and other retired professionals.
“I’m happy to be involved,” she said, adding with a laugh, “and we have the chance to play with some really old alumni.”
Hockey Helps the Homeless (HHTH) is a national charity founded in Toronto in 1996 that pampers recreational hockey players and raises money to address homelessness in Canada’s major cities.
Players wear customized jerseys, eat as if it’s their job to fuel their body, and access a full team of athletic trainers and therapists.
This is the fourth Vancouver tournament and the first time for a women’s tournament in the city. Since their modest start 12 years ago, HHTH has raised $4 million for charity, said co-founder Gary Scullion.
“We use Canada’s love of the game to create an avenue to raise financial support and awareness for the issue,” he said.
The fundraising goal for the Vancouver men’s tournament is the highest in the country. At $240,000, the goal is $40,000 more than Toronto and $150,000 more than Ottawa.
Ewan French, the volunteer director for this city’s tournament, said fundraisers here are tenacious and well-connected but there is also an acute awareness that support is needed in neighbourhoods like the Downtown Eastside.
“We have some amazing people on our committee who are well-verse in these types of fundraising events and their philosophy is you have to push and you have to ask for more — ask for more and you end up getting more,” he said. “We have certain special people who are not afraid to email [Canucks owner] Francesco Aquilini and ask for $10,000 and get it.”
In Vancouver, HHTH works with the First United Church, RainCity Housing, the Lookout Society, Covenant House the Urban Native Youth Association.
“Everyone is educated in this city,” said French, and they see how bad it is.”
When she started fundraising for the inaugural women’s tournament, McDonald aimed to raise $600. When she quickly surpassed that mark, she bumped her goal to $750. As of Tuesday morning, she’d raised $1,070 and still counting.