The Keith Daly Countrywide Midget Lakers have been on fire all season and not even the local fire department could extinguish their winning streak, as the Lakers and Lake Cowichan’s volunteer firefighters faced off Saturday night.
The event was organized for the first time last year by the Lake Cowichan Fire Department as a fundraiser for the Lake Cowichan Food Bank. Attendees are asked to make a food or cash donation at the door.
This year’s game raised $816 and a “truck load” of food items.
Steve Vatcher, a lieutenant with the fire department, coordinated the event and said given the love of hockey among many firefighters in Lake Cowichan, a fundraiser like this was a natural fit.
“It was a good community thing to do,” he said. “We do a toy drive and food bank fundraiser at Christmas but this time of year — we know they’re in need all year but we know there’s a bit of a drop off [this time of year].”
The LCFD team was comprised of any firefighters, junior firefighters or sons of firefighters who expressed an interest.
Some had previous experience or play in the adult league in Lake Cowichan, while others were new to the sport.
“One guy had never played before. It’s just part of the camaraderie of being a firefighter. You just get together and do things,” said Vatcher, who characterized the night as a success no matter how much money was raised.
“There were lots of people there. Lots of smiles. Lots of chatter on the benches and laughs.”
Food bank director Betty Sanddar said she was thrilled with the contribution.
“I was very very excited. It’s overwhelming how well our community supports us,” she said.
“We were really excited and grateful last year but even more so this year.”
Last year the food bank operated out of the Mildred Child Annex and consequently had fewer expenses.
“So we have to fundraise more in order to pay the rent and buy the groceries that we need more than we get donated.”
Sanddar said this hockey game between the midget Lakers and the fire department is the only sporting event tied directly to the food bank.
“But we are certainly open to other ones,” said Sanddar. “The fireman have been good to us.”
Even with two of their players — junior firefighters Stephen Vatcher and Billy Robertson — competing with the LCFD, the Lakers won handily 11-5.
But, as Vatcher made sure to point out, the real winners were the food bank and the community it serves.