You may soon be seeing Ponoka Stampeder players volunteering out in the community in their jerseys as the team works to build a culture of “giving back.”
For the Junior B hockey team, community building is something that happens on and off the ice.
General manager Andrew McNichols said it’s important to the team’s staff and players to build a new vision and culture of giving back, both within and without of the hockey community, now and into the future.
To build relationships and foster the growth of community support and their fan base, the team has several community engagements planned.
Recently, the Stampeders hosted the Ponoka U9 minor hockey team, treating them to a tour of their facilities, letting them sit in on a pre-game chalk talk and sending them home with swag bags.
The Stampeders will be holding a drive for used blankets, towels and bedding for Old MacDonald Kennels soon, and the players will also be volunteering their time at the shelter.
At an upcoming home game, they will also be holding a food drive.
There will be a crate set out, and a donation of a non-perishable food item may get you a discount on admission. Collected items will then be donated to the Ponoka Food Bank and the Ponoka Jubilee Library’s food pantry. Details to be announced.
The Stampeders have also reached out to local schools for potential volunteer opportunities.
For example, they’ve offered to help out with set up or security for events at Ponoka Secondary Campus, and are hoping to volunteer some time to Ponoka Elementary School’s breakfast program, Nichols said.
The Stampeders have remade themselves this season, with a whole new coaching staff and new roster of fresh talent.
The staff includes head coach Joe Gidari, assistant coaches Patrick Madden and Trevor Sigfusson, and McNichols. They also recently brought on a new trainer, former paramedic Brittany Jo Sande.
The team had a rough couple of years, with COVID, then a forced shutdown. In fact, the Stampeders went 1, 355 days without a win.
The victory at home on Oct. 22, put some “good wind” in their sails, said McNichols.
Now two months into their season, McNichols says they’re “meshing well” on the ice and they’re excited for their upcoming games.
Having played against southern division teams for the most of the season so far, which McNichols says is a tougher marker, they’re now coming up against more local teams in the northern division.
The Stampeders play an away game against the Red Deer Vipers on Friday, Nov. 17, and Airdrie Techmation Thunder at home on Saturday, Nov. 18. The puck drops at 8:30 p.m.
The team has received great support from the community, including the Town of Ponoka and arena personnel, local businesses, longtime fans as well as new, and other teams in the league as well, said McNichols, adding they’re always looking for new sponsorships.
“Funding is key,” said Nicholson.
A variety of sponsorship packages are available. Those who are interested can contact McNichols at 403-596-1645.