For one early morning, the UFA Bisons made a huge trade, exchanging their pucks and sticks for wrapping paper and presents – all for a good cause.
The local triple-A midget team held their 10th Annual Christmas Shopping with the Bisons Dec. 12 at Strathmore’s Calgary Co-op.
The players helped children of single-parent homes select gifts for their loved ones and assisted in wrapping the presents.
“We do this for two reasons – one, to give back to the community, and two, for these players that do move on to junior hockey, they are going to be expected to do stuff (like this),” said UFA Bisons General Manager Neil Glionna. “This shows them (and) gives them the heads up.
“That’s why we hear back from junior teams that they appreciate our program because we do help get their players ready for everything – not just the on-ice, but the off-ice as well. The two go hand in hand. They’re both important.”
Bisons head coach Parry Shockey agreed with Glionna.
“I think that hockey players have gifts, they have an opportunity to do a lot of things and to be exposed to a lot of different variables in life,” said Shockey. “Most of them are about success and about their goals. I think that (these) sort of things bring everything back to reality … it’s always good to give back.
“To see the looks on the kids’ faces is unbelievable. It brings the true meaning of Christmas to us.”
According to Glionna, the event evolved from a brainstorming session over 10 years ago, when the (then) coaching staff and management team were looking for ways to give back to the community.
Initially, the thought was to go to various businesses to help make the event. However, when the team approached Strathmore’s Calgary Co-op, the local store stepped up and hosted the entire event.
“We just want to be involved in our communities and make sure that the events that we do get tied in with are things that people can relate to and be beneficial to the communities we serve,” said Jay Phypers, Centre Manager for Strathmore’s Calgary Co-op. “This is a program that they have been running for years – long before I got here … it seemed like a really good fit and I’m just overjoyed with the way it went.”
While all the players are elite midget level competitors, Glionna had to question some of the team’s wrapping abilities.
“We might have to have a practice on wrapping,” laughed Glionna. “They all had a good time, but there were some interesting wrapping jobs.
“I always try to find stuff that was in a rectangular or square box.”