Rock launch Online 50/50 Draw


With the start of the 2020-21 NOJHL campaign still on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic and no fans in the stands, the Timmins Rock have launched a new online 50/50 draw to raise some badly needed funds.

Thomas Perry – The Daily Press/Postmedia Network
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“We had been looking at some ways to continuously fundraise for the team, while we are waiting for the season to start,” said Rock President Ted Gooch.

“Of course, our expenses have never stopped since last year’s playoffs and it has definitely been a hard summer.”

Indeed, what promised to be a deep playoff run, generating a significant amount of revenue, was cut short after one game by the start of the pandemic in March.

“Watching the success of the Timmins and District Hospital Foundation’s 50/50, we realized one of the main draws to our home games was the 50/50 draws people loved to play,” Gooch said.

“It built up big pots, especially during playoff games, and we figured we would have a good target audience to run an online 50/50.”

Online 50/50 draws, of course, are nothing new in the world of sports and professional teams like the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs and MLB’s Toronto Blue Jays have found success using the concept.

It has also proved to be a financial boon for events such as the World Junior Hockey Championships.

“Those have been quite successful, broadening the audience right across the country and we hope to be able to drive the same kind of interest with our audience to help support the club,” Gooch said.

The president noted the first of what will be monthly draws will be held on Nov. 15.

“Then, the pot will reset back to zero with a new draw beginning on Nov. 16, with a winner chosen Dec. 15, just before Christmas,” Gooch said.

The plan is for the online draws to continue even after on-ice action gets underway for the 2020-21 NOJHL campaign, even though live 50/50 draws will resume at the arena.

“As long as the interest is there, we will do both,” Gooch said.

“We may try and coincide the online draw dates with some home games, just to be able to draw two lucky winners.”

The Rock have not set any goals in terms of how much money they hope to raise with the online 50/50 draws, but Gooch noted every dollar raised will help the team’s bottom line.

“It has been a long six months without any real fundraising streams,” he said.

“So, right now anything we make will definitely be a Godsend, with expenses that have carried over from last season. Some of the bills don’t stop in the off season.

“Any money we raise will help us get through these tough times while we await the green light from the province to hit the ice.”

Early response to the Rock’s new online 50/50 draw, which launched just after noon on Wednesday, has been very positive.

“We are approaching the $2,000 mark already in just over a day,” Gooch said.

“We have almost 40 days remaining and if the trend continues we will be very happy with whatever the community decides to support us with.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the Rock cancelling a number of events that would have contributed to their coffers, including the fifth-annual NHL Celebrity Golf Tournament, as well as the inaugural Poutinefest.

“We had a celebrity dinner planned for the middle of the summer that had to be postponed, as well,” Gooch said.

“So, it has been very tough without those fundraising initiatives we use to get us through to September.”

The majority of Rock players have been taking part in a skill development camp at the Whitney Arena since Sept. 8 to ensure they will be ready when the NOJHL gives the go ahead to begin training camp.

It remains to be seen, of course, just when that announcement will be made.

“I really wish I could give our fans a solid answer,” Gooch said.

“As of right now, we are still playing the waiting game. The NOJHL has worked hard with all of our members to create a return to play document that demonstrates how we can return safely to the ice.

“We have submitted it to the Province of Ontario, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.

“We have had discussions with the Porcupine Health Unit. We have done arena facility tours with them to try and get everybody’s blessing so we are able to play hockey once the Province of Ontario does agree we can move forward.

“As of right now, however, we are in a waiting game. One of the main issues, of course, is the facility and attendance.”

Unlike the NHL, NOJHL teams cannot survive without having at least some fans in the stands.

“Due to our overhead and our expenses, we do need a crowd to play in front of,” Gooch said.

“That number is roughly 550 to 600, so we are hoping for 50 per cent capacity of the McIntyre Arena.

“That would kind of get us through a COVID-19 season.”

The Rock will move their skill development camp back to the McIntyre Arena following the Thanksgiving long weekend.

When an announcement is finally made on the start date for the 2020-21 NOJHL campaign, Gooch anticipates teams will have at least two weeks’ notice.

“Because most teams have already begun their skill development camps, we have requested a minimum of two weeks,” he said.

“Once we get word, we will start a full two-week training camp, with full scrimmages.

“Then, the league would start after that two week period and we would try to get in as many games in the season as we could from that point.

“It could be a 40- or 45-game modified schedule (as opposed to a normal 56-game schedule.

“Once we do get the green light, we would be playing inter-division only, so we would only be playing the teams in the East Division to minimize travel and risks from overnight stays.”

It remains to be seen, however, if the makeup of the divisions will have to be altered given the West-Division Elliot Lake Wildcats have already taken a one-year leave of absence, while cross-border issues might prevent the U.S.-based Soo Eagles, of the West Division, from competing.

“There have been some discussions of having one of the teams from the East move over to the West to balance things back out,” Gooch said.

“There has been no confirmation of which team it would be, but it would certainly be one of the more southern teams (Powassan Voodoos or French River Rapids).”