Dozens of former Dauphin Kings will get another chance to wear the team’s colours in September.
The Manitoba Junior Hockey League team, which began play 50 years ago and is entering its 51st season on the ice, has reached out to former players for a special alumni weekend built around the team’s home opener on Saturday, Sept. 23.
Jordan Pernarowski, who played with the team for four seasons from 2002 to 2006, is spearheading the event. The Dauphin accountant, who serves on the team’s board and has formed an alumni association with T.J. Warkentin, Zach Mertens and Dallas Drysdale, said the idea has proven to be popular.
"It’s going pretty good so far," Pernarowski said. "It’s getting lots of traction."
After filling their initial 40 spots for an alumni game, the association decided to add a second game, both of which will take place prior to the home opener. One game will be for players under the age of 40, with the other for older former Kings.
After the alumni games — and before the home opener — a special supper will be held, with a social following after the game. A round of golf follows on the Sunday morning.
The concept of the alumni weekend came when Pernarowski received a visit from another board member, who is a businessman in Dauphin.
"Mike Csversko came to my office and kind of got the idea started," Pernarowski said.
"Since then he’s a pretty busy guy so he’s out of the picture but we got going and I have a group of my buddies from town who I played on the Kings with and we’ve been going at it from there, with the support of the board of course," Pernarowski continued.
Among the players who have confirmed their attendance is Blaine Stoughton, the Gilbert Plains product who played with the team in the late 1960s. He went on to skate in 526 games in the National Hockey League and 219 contests in the World Hockey Association.
"That’s exciting news that he’s coming," Pernarowski said. "I haven’t officially touched base with him yet but he put it on the Twitterverse that he’s coming back."
Pernarowski said he’s heard from a number of former players curious about who has signed up because they are eager to renew acquaintances. Along with Manitobans, players from Saskatchewan, Alberta, B.C., and one from Iowa have committed to attend.
To quite literally get the ball rolling, the association held a golf tournament in the fall. The plans to make the alumni association more active were unveiled then.
"Everyone was pretty excited about it," Pernarowski said. "That’s when we started to bring up the idea of the Kings’ 50th year and the possibility of an alumni game. We want to make some kind of event every year where it’s a reason to get together with your friends and teammates who you don’t necessarily have time to visit with. We’re all over Canada now so it’s nice to have a reason to get together and catch up."
There is a cost for former players.
Anyone wishing to play in the game will pay $175, and receive their jersey and supper and social tickets in return. An alumni jersey alone costs $125, tickets to the supper and social are $50, and social tickets are $10.
Golf at the Gilbert Plains Country Club on Sunday will be $30.
There is no admission fee for the alumni games for fans.
Former players can email organizers at firstname.lastname@example.org to take part. The team has a hard deadline of June 30.
Any proceeds will be split between the association and Kings.
"Our overall goal is to help the Kings any way that we can," Pernarowski said.
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