TRENTON – If the Pictou County Scotians Hockey Club doesn’t raise $20,000 by Sept. 1 the club will fold.
The amount and deadline for raising those funds was put in place by the board after the club ran a deficit this season. It’s an uphill climb, but the board is willing to do what it takes to keep the team here in Pictou County.
This season on the ice they suffered heartbreak as the team was eliminated in Game 7 of their NSJHL division semifinal against Port Hawkesbury when Dave Greencorn scored with one second remaining in regulation to break a 3-3 tie for the Strait Pirates.
Off the ice the team struggled financially, mostly due to the closure of the Pictou County Co-op, which eventually affected their weekly flea market.
“The biggest cause for the deficit was obviously because we had to shut our flea market down, which is of no fault of the board, the hockey club or the Pictou County Co-op,” said team governor Walter Smith. “With the closure of the grocery store they could not supply heat to our part of the building. We stayed as long as we could, but come December is was just too cold and we had to shut down.”
In November Smith said the income from the flea market was already projected to drop to approximately $20,000 from the $50,000 to $60,000 they were making in the past. When they were forced to close less than a month later they were left without that revenue stream at any amount.
“We haven’t done a lot of fundraising (in the past) because we’ve been spoiled by the flea market and we’ve been relying on that revenue to run the hockey club,” he said. “We now have to generate other sources of revenue. We have to face reality that we do not have the flea market. Part of that is that we need to cut expenditures, which will be a downsizing of the budget.”
The team has had a budget ranging from $90,000 to $100,000 in the past, but moving forward they will run a budget of no more than $75,000 according to Smith. He said both he and the 11 other board members realize that is part of making the club feasible.
Although they are cutting the budget, they still need to make up for lost revenues in the future after raising the initial $20,000 to get the team back to balance.
The initial fundraising drive is focused on reaching out to former players and the community to receive donations or support through community fundraisers. As of Tuesday afternoon they had 198 members of their “Save the Pictou County Scotians Junior B Team” Facebook page, which will be used to reach out to players, the community and inform people when fundraisers are taking place.
Smith said they’re reaching out to their alumni, hoping they will donate $20 to the program. He hopes fans and community supporters of the team will donate $10, while they aim to raise at least $5,000 through corporate donations. Anyone looking to make a donation can do so by asking to make a donation to the Pictou County Scotians Junior B Hockey Club at any Pictou County Scotiabank branch.
“A key part of this fundraising endeavour is going to be the Scotians’ alumni and current players,” he said. “We need them to do something they’ve never been asked to do before and that’s help raise money for the program.”
Already since they launched this campaign last week they have started to receive some donations and recently finished their annual Mother’s Day lobster draw, which raised $1,900.
They will also be holding a Father’s Day lobster draw, golf ball drop, and dinner-dance and auction fundraiser to help reach their $20,000 benchmark. Smith was clear that it’s not a goal; it’s a must to keep the team moving forward.
He also added that if the board felt they would face a deficit in future years they wouldn’t bother, but they feel once they get some fundraisers in place they will become annual ways to sustain the team. They also plan on meeting with local sports organizations that run 50/50s to look at building partnerships and create a county-wide 50/50.
“One of our keys (initiatives) that we hope to do moving forward is to unify a lot of the small 50/50s that the groups run, different hockey organizations and minor sport groups run through the winter and summer months,” said Smith. “Using Glace Bay as an example their weekly 50/50 is $35,000 and Antigonish’s is $15,000. I see no reason why we can’t make something like that work here in Pictou County.
“That’s a big key for us moving forward, but our no. 1 priority has to be this $20,000 by Sept. 1.”
According to Smith the only other option at this point for the hockey club is to sell the team. They did listen to a proposal from an outside group, but they are looking to relocate the organization, which isn’t the board’s preference.
“If we get to the point that we can’t make the $20,000 we’d be looking for a Pictou County group, whether it’s a private owner or another board, that would be interested in keeping that team afloat or playing in Pictou County,” he said. “If we weren’t doing it ourselves, that would be our next choice or we would have to fold the team.”
With 20 years in the community he said he hopes the organization doesn’t have to do that. He said they became a regular place to go watch hockey on Sunday nights at the Trenton rink through their IceMen, Subways and now Scotians days.
“We’re really excited about the on-ice product we have right now,” he said. “We have the potential to have 16 of 20 players back from last year and have a number of exciting prospects that have committed to coming to training camp. We had a rough few years, but we’ve built the program back up and it would be sad to see us not able to play next season.”
On Twitter: @NGNewsChris