Tri-City Americans celebrate 30th season by continuing to support charities
Team helped to raise more than $2M in donations over seven seasons
The Tri-City Americans are celebrating their 30th season with a home opener on Sept. 30 against the Everett Silvertips. For the team, the anniversary provides a chance to reflect on their history and how they’ve sown their roots in the Tri-Cities by giving back to the community that welcomed them three decades ago.
[blockquote quote=”The Ams have made quite an impact on the community for over 30 years.” source=”Amy Hubbard, vice president of sales and new business development for the Americans” align=”right” max_width=”300px”]
“Being an Americans player means bringing the community together,” said Nolan Yaremko, a forward on the hockey team.
The team has done this through the years by working with local groups to raise money and toys for charities and through their community volunteer work.
The Ams have raised more than $75,500 for local Mid-Columbia charities in the 2016-17 season.
In all, the team helped generate more than $250,000 in donations in 2016-17 and nearly $2 million during the past seven seasons.
“The Ams have made quite an impact on the community for over 30 years,” said Amy Hubbard, vice president of sales and new business development for the Americans.
They’ve raised money for the Tri-Cities Cancer Center, March of Dimes, Lymphoma & Leukemia Society, Alzheimer’s Association and more. The team has also collected more than 3,000 teddy bears for local children in their annual teddy bear toss game. Local charities receive the cuddly toys.
“When they ask for first goal, the audience will throw new or gently used teddy bears for local area children on the ice; it’s quite a sight to see,” said Kathleen Adams, community and game day coordinator for the team.
Every October, the team holds an Alzheimer’s Awareness Night, featuring a silent auction, T-shirt sales and benefit ticket sales to donate to the nonprofit.
Proceeds from T-shirt and ticket sales plus a silent auction have helped to raise more than $27,000 for the association since 2012.
In February, the team will hold its 12th annual Fred Meyer Breast Cancer Awareness Night, known as pink ice night, to benefit the Tri-Cities Cancer Center Foundation.
“It has brought in lots of money over the years for cancer research. It is one of our biggest events,” Adams said.
In previous years, eight to 12 of the players will donate half-day to help build houses in the community for Tri-County Partners Habitat for Humanity. In the winter, the players volunteer as Salvation Army bell ringers for the Christmas kettle drives.
In 2016-17, Americans players, coaches, owners and front office staff logged more than 2,500 staff hours for public service activities.
“This community has been so great to our team and we’ve shown our appreciation by giving back,” Adams said.
The team is an original franchise of the Western Hockey League, or WHL, a branch of the Canadian Hockey League.
The WHL has representation in all four western Canadian provinces and in Oregon and Washington. The league consists of 22 member clubs with 17 based in western Canada and five in the Northwest.
The team started in 1966 as the Calgary Buffaloes before being renamed the Centennials after one season. From 1977-82, the franchise was known as the Billings Bighorns before relocating to Nanaimo, British Columbia, as the Nanaimo Islanders.
After one season, they moved to New Westminster, British Columbia, to become the New Westminster Bruins. Then finally in 1988, the franchise moved to the Tri-Cities to become the Americans.
To celebrate their move to the Tri-Cities, the team kicks off this year’s season with an ’80s night celebration.
Local band Colorblind will play, a Pyro & Fire Show is planned for pre-game ceremonies and there will be a Gesa Credit Union photo booth and face painting for the kids on the concourse.
The Tri-City Americans are off to a promising start to their 30th season by scoring 29 goals in four games at the Everett Preseason Classic.
“There’s nothing like playing with a group of unbelievable brothers who will go the distance this year,” said Ams left wing Maxwell James.
The team has celebrated many successes over the years.
Many of the players have gone on to be drafted by the National Hockey League. In the first draft in June, Michael Rasmussen from Vancouver, B.C., was ninth overall in the first round drafted by the Detroit Red Wings; Juuso Välimäki from Nokia, Finland, was 16th overall in the first round drafted by the Calgary Flames; Morgan Geekie from Strathclair, Manitoba, was drafted 67th overall by the Carolina Hurricanes; Kyle Olson from Calgary, Alberta, was drafted 122nd overall by the Anaheim Ducks.
Several well-known hockey players got their start on the team, including the current No. 1 goaltender in the NHL, Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens and defenseman Brandon Carlo, who plays for the Boston Bruins. Other Ams players of note include forward Stu Barnes, goaltender Brian Boucher, who is currently a TV analyst, and Olaf Kolzig, winner of the 2000 Vezina Trophy and a coach with the Washington Capitals.
[panel title=”American’s charity games:” style=”info”]
- Oct. 21: Ams vs. Kamloops; Alzheimer’s Awareness Night
- Nov. 18: Ams vs. Victoria; GESA Credit Union’s Charity Night for Safe Harbor
- Dec. 1: Ams vs. Seattle; teddy bear toss
- Feb. 24: Ams vs. Prince George; Pink ice for Breast Cancer Awareness Night
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