By SooToday.com Staff
Monday, August 17, 2009
Professional hockey players face off against Mother Nature in Northern wilderness with Les Stroud (AKA Survivor Man)
The rain was fierce, the terrain was unforgiving and the bugs were plentiful, but that didnâ€™t stop challengers from enjoying the Les Stroud Hockey Pro Survival Challenge this past weekend in Hornepayne, ON.
Les Stroud, the NHLâ€™s Kris King, and Brad May challenged 17 of their friends to the ultimate survival weekend to raise funds for the Kingâ€™s hometown hockey arena, desperately in need of repairs.
â€śIn our weekend challenge, we got soaked by the rain and sometimes swampy conditions, were worried the fire might never light, and got lost for a while heading out of the bush,â€ť May commented. â€śIt was extremely demanding, and I respect Les a lot for having survived hostile conditions for seven nights.â€ť
Challengers, among others, included Toronto Maple Leafs' Alex Ponikarovsky, Buffalo Sabresâ€™ Steve Montador, the Washington Capitalsâ€™ Brendan Morrison, Brian Muir, Mike Fountain, Colorado Avalancheâ€™s strength coach Paul Goldberg and NHL linesmen Steve Miller and Mark Shewchyk.
After a short survival class, teams were sent deep into the bush by boat or bush plane with only a Columbia back pack, Stroudâ€™s bestselling book Survive!, a flint striker, a small camp knife, and a Coleman flashlight.
â€śI didnâ€™t make it easy for them. Even the local guides were concerned some routes might be too challenging,â€ť Stroud said. â€śThey did surprisingly well, and in the end everyone wins in an event like this as we raise money for the community and give the guys and experience of a lifetime. We couldnâ€™t have made it happen without our sponsors like Ford, Future Shop, Luxottica, Bearskin Airlines, Columbia, and Coleman.â€ť
Teams had to find three to find geo-caches using GPS (donated by Future Shop) and were allowed to pick only two of five survival items at the first two stations.
Some teams focused on items to help them make shelter (like a tarp, hatchet or folding saw) where others focused on food, like Mayâ€™s team, choosing items like rice, a pot, and water bottle.
The Friday night Dos Equis party at the Legion and Sunday BBQ, including silent auction, raised over $10,000 for the arena, not including specific contributions from sponsors like Hydro One $15,000, Ford Motor Company of Canada and London Life/Great West Life, both for $2,000.
Added to the $45,000 from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, and generous equipment donation from NHLPA Goals & Dreams valued at $15,000, the community benefits total over $90,000.
At the community BBQ of over 700 people (population 1200), Kris King was honoured by Hockey Heritage North, now officially recognizing him as a player from Hornepayne, where he grew up, and not Bracebridge (where his mother gave birth to him).
â€śIâ€™m proud to be a Hornepayner . . . itâ€™s a small community with a big heart, and it means a lot to me to be able to do something to make the quality of life better for the kids growing up there . . . so I want to thank all of the guys that participated, the local volunteers, and all the sponsors that made this possible,â€ť King commented. â€śI have a lot of good memories of the town, but I sure wonâ€™t miss the black flies and the mosquitoes as big as seagulls in the bush this weekend.â€ť
The event will be televised soon.
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M&M Meat Shops, SC Johnson, Canadian Tire, Home Hardware, and Valu Mart were among other sponsors from Toronto, Sault Ste. Marie, Marathon, Hearst and Hornepayne that pitched in by donating product for the event.