Rhino's Ramblings: The Three R's of 50/50

Robert Thomas

By now many people in town are aware that the Moose Jaw Warriors home opener is going to be a very special one and it’s starting to create a buzz in the community. A buzz which is definitely starting to grow.

It has something to do with the game at hand and the upcoming season but let’s face it the majority of the buzz is about the potential 50/50 prize payout.

At the March 23rd playoff game against the Prince Albert Raiders the 50/50 jackpot hit a Canadian Hockey League (CHL) record of $166,615 and amazingly nobody came forward to claim their half within 90 days following the game. The big question of who won it was never answered despite a lot of speculation and news coverage around the city.

So, under the rules, the money is returned to an upcoming prize pool and the potential jackpot starts growing with the purchase of the first 50/50 ticket.

Given the size of the prize up for grabs and talk of a potential jackpot hitting the $300,000 mark or higher someone with a ticket to the game who buys a 50/50 ticket and later claims it could potentially walk away with $150,000 or more in cash. It all depends on how many 50/50 tickets are sold at the game.

Doors open at 6 pm for the September 22nd home opener and 50/50 tickets are available at that time. Unlike ordinary draws though, which are held partway through the third period, the home opener draw will be held after the end of the third period. Only those with game tickets will be allowed to purchase 50/50 tickets so it’s anticipated to be a sellout.

But there is another side of the 50/50 draws which isn’t really being spoken of and it’s one of lost dreams.

For most junior hockey players, including members of the Moose Jaw Warriors, the dreams of making the big show or the NHL isn’t going to happen. Numerically there are far more junior hockey teams out there with more players to fill the pro ranks then there are teams.

So what happens to the young men who have often spent a great part of their latter teenage years away from home, family, childhood friends and lived with billets? What happens to those who don’t make it or simply decide playing hockey isn’t their life goal anymore?

It could be a scandalous story of precious years lost and then young men forgotten but I can tell you it isn't. There is another side to chasing the NHL dream with the Moose Jaw Warriors and that is an educational one.

For every player who makes the NHL there are countless more who won’t but despite not making the big show of the NHL, being a Warrior opens other doors to a better life. One built upon education. You know the one your parents always told you to strive for. A good job and a good life and for that education is the key.

Believe it or not players bettering themselves academically is just as important to the Moose Jaw Warriors as excelling on the ice. They have an Education Advisor who makes great efforts to ensure the players education stays on track. There are such things as weekly study hall and tutors are available to assist any players having difficulty with their studies.

By just asking a few questions it’s easy to see the Warriors' staff does their best to help players balance hockey with their education.

“Education is extremely important to the organization and something that we take very seriously,” a source told me.

So this is where the 50/50 and other events held throughout the year such as the Alumni Golf Tournament, Annual Hall of Fame and gametime "Chuck-a Pucks" come into play. These are fundraisers not for the benefit of the team but for the players. All monies raised go into the Education Fund. It’s the other side of the 50/50 that most people never think about.

It’s also what a large majority of the efforts the Moose Jaw Warriors' Booster Club volunteer for. These are the people who sell you the 50/50 tickets game in and game out. As well as other events throughout the years. They are the unpaid heroes who help make everything possible. So how does the Education Fund work?

The fund is based upon earning one year of tuition and books for each year as a member with the Warriors. So if a player is with the team for five years they can earn up to five years of tuition and books of post secondary education. What Warrior alumni chose to study at a post secondary level is completely their choice it does not have to be university degrees it can be trade and technical college as well.

But the Education Fund goes further, while an 18, 19 or 20 year old active member of the team players can take a couple of post secondary classes a year with the Fund picking up tuition and book costs. What it means is a player could potentially draw seven years of funding for their post secondary goals and dreams all because of fundraisers like the 50/50 draws.

Once leaving the WHL players have 18 months to activate their scholarships. Each year between 20 – 30 Warriors alumni draw from the Education Fund and according to my sources they speak very highly of the opportunity it gives to them. Leaguewide in 2017-2018 382 WHL graduates utilized their scholarships.

 Sam Fioretti took advantage of the Warriors Education Fund to practice medicine.

Sam Fioretti took advantage of the Warriors Education Fund to practice medicine.

Do you remember Sam Fioretti? He played with the Warriors from 2010 to 2014? Presently he is pursuing his dreams in medicine at Acadia University. Or how about Warrior alumnus Kendal McFaull? He used his scholarship towards an engineering degree at the University of Saskatchewan. These are just two examples of the many Warrior alumni who have benefited from the fund.

 Kendall McFaull used the fund money to pursue engineering at the U of S

Kendall McFaull used the fund money to pursue engineering at the U of S

It’s one thing to remember as you purchase your 50/50 tickets at the home opener for even if you don’t win the jackpot half of what you spent is going to the players for them to have opportunities later on in their lives. A backup dream for many players most certainly but at the same time nothing to dismiss either.

Please play responsibly and not outside your means but just remember it is all about helping out the players who give it their all chasing that elusive NHL dream and entertain you in the process. Half of what you are wagering goes to them. It’s something, as already mentioned, that many Warriors alumni are appreciative of.

Personally I’m predicting a lot of oooohs and ahs from the sellout crowd as they monitor the scoreboard and the jackpot grows. It’s sure to grab a lot of attention. But please remember you are also at a hockey game and I’m certain the young men who make up the Moose Jaw Warriors would appreciate some cheering for them as well.

Here is to another great season by the Moose Jaw Warriors.

Game tickets are available on the Warriors website or at the Mosaic Place box office.