Vancouver Canucks players, management and alumni played Surrey’s Northview Golf and Country Club Wednesday during the 35th annual Jake Milford Charity Invitational.
“The Jake” tournament and dinner serves as a fundraiser for the Canucks for Kids Fund and Canucks Alumni Foundation prior to the start of another NHL season.
Sharp-shooting forward Brock Boeser picked up some rental clubs for the occasion.
“We’ll see how I hit them,” the second-year pro told the Now-Leader.
“I haven’t golfed here yet, and it’s my first time golfing in B.C. just because I didn’t bring my clubs out (from his native Minnesota) and I got injured at the end of last year,” he added. “But yeah, I’m excited to get going and play my first round out here… Once I got cleared (to play, in mid-July, after rehabbing an injured wrist), I golfed as much as I could there (in Minnesota) before summer ended.”
Goaltender Jacob Markstrom said the tournament is a great way to kick off the hockey season.
“It’s a fun event,” he said. “I thought it’d be more competitive than it is, and I won it with the team I was with last year, but you get the most heat and told you’re cheating if you do win,” he added with a laugh.
“We meet new people, new teammates, and get to know them, and it’s for a great cause, too. It’s the bigger picture,” Markstrom said. “The golf is really secondhand to the charity on that. When this tournament comes around, you know it’s time for hockey season soon. It’s good to see everyone and have some fun, and then we go to work in Whistler. It’s fun before the seriousness starts tomorrow.”
On Friday morning at Whistler’s Meadow Park Sports Centre, the Canucks will begin training camp for the 2018-19 hockey season. The daily on-ice sessions, held from Friday to Monday, are open to the public and free to attend. Training camp will be attended by 59 players — six goaltenders, 20 defencemen and 33 forwards.
Last year, the golf tournament in Surrey raised more than $429,280 for the two charities.
An online auction is part of the event, with in-person bids also welcomed. The most popular silent-auction items include “Be in a Canucks Team Photo,” “Caddy for a Canuck” and “Brock Boeser Autographed NHL All Star Jersey.”
“Since 1984, ‘The Jake’ has been a conduit for us to celebrate the strong bonds that tie together our past, present and future,” says a post at jakemilfordauction.com. “This full-team golf tournament kicks off each hockey season with the full roster of Canucks players, coaches, management and alumni, teeing off alongside guests on the beautiful double courses at Northview Golf Club.”
On Wednesday, defenceman Chris Tanev played in his ninth “Jake” tournament, he said.
“I love golf, and I play quite a bit,” he explained. “This course, I only come here for this tournament, it’s a bit of a drive for me, but no, it’s a nice course, they keep it in good condition.
He named Brendan Gaunce as one of the best golfers among Canucks players.
“He’s pretty good, close to scratch,” Tanev said.
Fellow D-man Alex Biega said he doesn’t golf a lot.
“I golfed maybe four times the whole summer, but hopefully I can maintain a pretty good game today,” he said with a smile.
Forward Bo Horvat, who some pick as the next captain of the Canucks, said he tries to play golf a lot.
“But I usually just get out for nine holes and then I usually blow up on the back nine anyways, so I cut it off when I’m hot,” he added with a laugh.
“I usually just play here at the Jake, and it’s always awesome to play,” Horvat said. “I’m usually on the Canal course but I’m on the Ridge today, and I’ve only played the Ridge once, so I’m excited. I’m going to go have fun and enjoy the day.… My golf game is a little rusty right now so we’ll see what happens.”
Chris Brumwell, the Canucks’ VP of communications and community partnerships, said the event at Northview is a special date on the team’s calendar every year.
The tournament is played in honour of Jake Milford, the Canucks’ general manager in the late 1970s and early ’80s. He died of pancreatic cancer in 1984.
“This is our 35th year doing the tournament and it’s always been connected to the alumni, and it’s a special event with the history of Jake Milford,” Brumwell said. “And the Milford family — John, his son — has been coming out to the tournament for, like, every year, out from Calgary, and plays, and it’s just a good way to kick off our season. It brings together the alumni and our current players, and people in the community, and we raise a lot of money for the Canucks for Kids Fund and the alumni foundation.”
Both courses at Northview were filled for this year’s tournament, with close to 150 golfers in action.
“There’s a certain entry fee that allows you to play with a celebrity, right, whether it’s a current roster player or alumni, and it’s a bit of selective process that way with our sponsors,” Brumwell said.
“It’s good to get out in the community that’s further out than downtown Vancouver,” he added. “It’s our 35th year, and next year will be even more special, because it’s the 50th year of the club.”
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