Crunch delivers donated hockey gear to kids on Coast

Daily Press mobile multimedia journalist Ron Grech.

By Ron Grech, The Daily Press (Timmins)

COCHRANE – Kids in Moose Factory didn’t waste time making use of thousands of dollars worth of new skates and equipment donated to the community’s minor hockey association last week.

“It’s already in use right now. There have already been a few individuals who requested to use the equipment,” said Brenden Biederman, Community Aboriginal Recreation Activator in Moose Factory, who also sits on the executive for the minor hockey association.

The Canadian Tire store in Cochrane donated more than $40,000 in hockey gear provided by the company’s charitable arm, Jumpstart, along with CCM Hockey to launch a lending program for kids in Moose Factory and Moosonee.

“There are so many other needs that families need to focus on but hockey is also seen as a need in our community and a lot of times people just can’t afford to play,” said Biederman. “This definitely alleviates a lot of the cost.”

The Cochrane store donated full hockey gear for 30 to 40 youths in Moose Factory while donating 60 pairs of skates along with helmets in Moosonee.

Biederman said the donation to Moose Factory exceeded his expectations.

“We didn’t expect to receive as much as we did which was an awesome bonus in our view,” he said. “From what I understood, it was just going to be the basics minus the skates. But they also brought up approximately 30 pairs of skates and then probably 40 sets of equipment. So basically, they brought up 10 extra sets of gear that we weren’t expecting. And we weren’t expecting the skates at all.”

Making the donation particularly special was the fact the Canadian Tire owner in Cochrane delivered the equipment in person, accompanied by the Cochrane Crunch team.

Ryan Leonard, coach and general manager of the NOJHL junior “A” team, said it was an “eye-opening” experience for a lot of his players.

“We have a lot of players who come from big cities,” he said. “We’ve got guys from Vancouver, we’ve got guys from California, Los Angeles, Florida — we’ve got guys from big cities everywhere so it’s a bit of an eyeopener going up the coast and seeing a different culture and way of living.”

The team spent three days on the coast — one night in Moosonee and two in Moose Factory. During that period, the team hosted hockey clinics for youths in those communities.

“It was a chance for the kids (on the coast) to get on the ice with some junior ‘A’ hockey players and do some drills and get to know the players,” said Leonard. “It was a lot of fun for everyone involved.”

Marc Sturch, owner of the Canadian Tire store in Cochrane, said his role was to co-ordinate the delivery of a donation made through CCM Hockey and Jumpstart.

“CCM hockey are partnered through Jumpstart and they are providing a large quantity of equipment nationally,” Sturch explained.

“Jumpstart is facilitating that donation through our different chapters and local communities to get it down to a grassroots level. So the intent is to work with community partners to build up lending programs … to make it as sustainable as possible so the equipment is there long term.”

While the lending program in Moose Factory is being overseen by the community’s recreation department, the similar program in Moosonee will be managed by the Northern Lights Secondary School.

“They are going to take care of the equipment, but they are working with the other schools and with minor hockey as well to make sure the equipment is used to the best it can be,” said Sturch.

The hockey equipment was transported to Moosonee by rail.

“ONR was gracious enough to provide the shipping for us,” said Sturch. “So they shipped it up on the freight train and we collected it up there. They were also gracious enough to reduce some of the costs of our tickets for the hockey team we sent up, the junior ‘A’ players, so we were able to bring the players up there and they helped with the donation.”

From Moosonee they loaded up the equipment on boats and went across to the island.

“We took the water taxis which was an experience in itself,” said Sturch. “The kids got to enjoy that. I think some of the kids actually saw some seals swimming in the river while they went over. It was a great experience.”

Sturch said the donation is a new initiative which “we hope to build on and maybe expand on in the future.”