(courtesy Marc Smith, DiscoverMooseJaw.com) It was a day full of sunshine and fun for the 144 golfers that teed it up at the Hillcrest Golf Club on Friday for the eighth annual Warriors’ Alumni Golf Tournament.
The annual event raises funds for the Warriors’ Education Fund and sees players of past and present hit the links with members of the community.
Former players like Theo Fleury, Dylan McIlrath and Brayden Point were all in attendance, while a number of current players, including captain Brett Howden, leading scorer Jayden Halbgewachs and goalie Brody Willms, all made their way back to the Friendly City for the tournament.
General Manager Alan Millar said he’s very proud of how much the tournament has grown over the past five years.
“Our alumni engaging in what we’re doing with the hall of fame, engaging in this tournament and understanding the importance of it, I’m really proud,” said Millar. “My 30 years in the game, this is one of the best things that I’ve had a chance to be involved in.”
The tournament is expected to have raised over $100,000 for the Warriors’ Education Fund once again this year, which is key for the organization as they look to help out players after their time in Moose Jaw comes to an end.
“The WHL Scholarship Program is so important to our graduating players,” said Millar. “This is the most sacred thing we do for our players is give them an education after they graduate from our programs.
“Over $750,000 has been raised over the last years, that’s unbelievable. This tournament is one of its kind in junior hockey in terms of that and a lot of that credit goes to Todd Hudson and his committee.”
There was 36 alumni and current players on the course for the tournament.
McIlrath has been a regular at the alumni tournament since moving onto pro hockey from the Warriors. He said he jumps at the chance to make an appearance every year.
“It’s a no-brainer every time I get the text from James Gallo to come back, Moose Jaw has a special place in my heart and anytime I can help out this tournament and the organization, I’m happy to do it,” said McIlrath.
After attending the tournament as a player, McIlrath said it really instilled in him how important the alumni and education fund are to the organization.
“You get to see how much support this community gives the alumni and I always want to be a small part of that,” he said. “This tournament goes a long way and helps all the alumni out. I want to see players in this organization enjoy a career after, so I’ll help out anyway I can.”
The big defenceman returned to the tournament this year as a Calder Cup champion after winning the American Hockey League title with the Grand Rapids Griffins.
“That was unreal,” he said. “Before I got traded (from Florida to Detroit), it would have been a sad end of my year, finishing out and not making playoffs in Springfield, but getting that trade and going to a first place team and then having that run, it was something special.”
Fleury was among a group of players from the 80s and 90s, including Scott Reid and Devon Oleniuk, that made it back for the tournament this year. Fleury said he loves coming back each year for this two-day event.
“The Warriors are a community owned team and so when I played here, a lot of the people that I’d see were season ticket holders or members of the booster club or whatever it was and I have lots of great memories of my time here in Moose Jaw and it’s a great cause, so I always enjoy coming back to see old friends and meeting new people in the community,” said the Warriors’ all-time leading scorer.
This won’t be the only appearance in Moose Jaw for Fleury this month as he will be returning on Thursday, July 20 for a showing of his new documentary “Victor Walk”, which follows Fleury during the first Victor Walk in 2013.
“We’re raising awareness around the subject of childhood rape and sexual abuse, which is a subject that is quite uncomfortable for most people to talk about, but if you can get a chance to see this documentary, it is incredibly powerful and eye-opening,” said Fleury.
Head to Fleury’s Breaking Free Foundation website for full details on the walk.