PORT McNEILL—Christmas came early for the Port McNeill Minor Hockey Association this year, and club alum and two-time Stanley Cup winner Willie Mitchell played the role of Santa Claus.
During a fund-raising auction earlier this year to benefit wild salmon preservation efforts, Mitchell placed the winning bid on a prize of a practice skate with Vancouver Canucks general manager Trevor Linden in Rogers Arena.
He then turned around and offered the prize to PMMHA, with the stipulation that the winning team had to earn the prize by raising funds for the club.
And, boy, did the teams raise money.
Association executives set a $1,500 bar for each team to qualify for the prize draw, with each additional $500 earning another “puck” in the draw bucket.
Through a monthlong series of fundraisers in November, the peanut kids raised $955, the novices $3,528, the atoms $4,521, the peewees a club-best $5,069, the bantams $4,224 and the midgets $3,089.
“We had absolutely no idea this would get so big,” PMMHA president Scott Mitchell — no relation to Willie — said as he announced the grand total of $21,385.
He then drew the bantam team’s puck as the winner of the Vancouver practice skate, set for Jan. 7, the night before the Canucks host Willie Mitchell’s Florida Panthers.
Each of the other teams that topped the $1,500 level will get to keep $1,000 for a team activity.