By Thomas Perry, The Daily Press (Timmins)
TIMMINS – Fans taking part in the second-annual Timmins Rock Golf Tournament at the Spruce Needles Golf Club on Thursday, July 20, will have an opportunity to rub elbows with a couple of former NHL stars.
Ted Gooch, president of the Rock board of directors, has confirmed Wendel Clark and Billy Smith will be in attendance.
Clark spent the bulk of his NHL career with the Toronto Maple Leafs, but also played for the Quebec Nordiques, New York Islanders, Tampa Bay Lightning, Detroit Red Wings and the Chicago Blackhawks.
He is certainly no stranger to Timmins, having been to the city in the past for a number of fundraisers.
“During Rogers Hometown Hockey, a lot of kids were out of town for hockey tournaments and they couldn’t be here to participate in that wonderful event,” Gooch said.
“We are looking forward to having him back and giving the fans a chance to see him in more of an intimate environment instead of waiting in line to get a quick conversation or autograph.”
Smith broke into the NHL with the Los Angeles Kings during the 1970-71 NHL season, but is best known for his 17 seasons and four Stanley Cups with the New York Islanders.
“Billy Smith was obviously a great goaltender with the Islanders,” Gooch said.
In addition to the four Stanley Cups, Smith won the Vezina Trophy for the 1981-82 season, the Conn Smythe Trophy for the 1982-83 season and the William M. Jennings Trophy, also for the 1982-83 campaign.
After his playing days were over, Smith served two years as a goalie coach with the Florida Panthers and three more as an assistant coach with the NHL team.
Clark and Smith will each be set up at one of the par-three holes at Spruce Needles.
“The golfers will have an opportunity to out-drive our celebrities, or see who can get their shot closest tot he pin,” Gooch said.
“It will give them a chance to win some prizes that way, as well, and each team will have a chance to spend five our 10 minutes with each celebrity as the play their round.”
Speaking of prizes, there will be lots of great merchandise up for grabs.
“We have a lot of donated prizes and we will be having a silent auction people can bid on, as well,” Gooch said.
“We will have a lot of NHL memorabilia up for grabs.”
In addition to Clark and Smith, new Rock head coach Corey Beer and a number of the team’s players will be taking part in the tournament, as well.
“We are hoping some of our returning vets will be out for a great day of golf,” Gooch said.
“(Alexandre) Brisson and (Stewart) Parnell have expressed an interest and we are more than happy to have them as part of the event.”
The tournament will feature a shotgun start at 1 p.m., with each of the teams playing 18 holes.
“Similar to last year, it will be a four-person scramble,” Gooch said.
A full field will see 144 golfers take to the course at Spruce Needles.
“Anyone interested in participating can register at the golf course, or reach out to us using the email address email@example.com,” Gooch said.
In addition to giving fans an opportunity to hang out with celebrities, as well as Rock officials and players, the tournament is a fundraiser.
“Being a not-for-profit organization, anything in the positive column will be a bonus for us,” Gooch said.
“There are huge costs associated with running the club every year. Realistically, we would like to see a profit of $5,000 or more. That would certainly be a win in our books.”
Fans who can’t make it for the golf portion of the event can still attend the dinner, which will follow the competition.
“We understand not everybody can get time off work on a Thursday and we want them to still have a chance to come out and meet the celebrities, our new coach and some of the players,” Gooch said.
“We will be having a prime rib dinner out at the club.”
The president cautions people who want to take part — either in a round of golf or just for the dinner — should register sooner, rather than later.
“Spots are limited,” he said.
“The club can handle about 175 guests for dinner.”
NOJHL NOTES — Following completion of the league’s two-day scheduling meeting on Thursday, it is expected the 2017-18 schedule will be released at some point in the coming weeks … The Blind River Beavers have traded forwards Anthony Bastianello (54, 4-14-18, 4) and Mark Bastianello (54, 17-13-30, 17) to the Trenton Golden Hawks, of the OJHL.