The Salmonbellies are part of that whole New West tradition thing, and although I’m not a rabid lacrosse fan, I think it’s fun, fast paced, and a great way to spend a night in town. There are still a few home games at Queens Park Arena if you’re into catching a game, and tickets for a family are really reasonably priced. Check out Jason Kurylo’s photos from the recent game on July 7, which the Bellies took 10-9. The Bellies are currently top of the WLA standings.
A few years ago, Salmonbellies President and General Manager Dan Richardson received an email requesting a t-shirt for a loved one stationed in Khandahar. From there, he put together a plan to send some additional Salmonbellies merchandise and some lacrosse equipment to some soldiers overseas. The success and goodwill from Operation: Salmonbellie got him thinking about how the team could expand what they were doing.
“I thought we could do a much better job of supporting our Canadian Military,” explained Richardson. “I got the idea for Seats for Soldiers from Major League Baseball organizations that plan similar events.”
Through connections to the Royal Westminster Regiment, Richardson’s plan was put into action and the first of what has become an annual event took place last summer.
“We really embraced the idea of working with the Royal Westminster Regiment and showed that a local sports team can really produce a first class event in name of the Canadian Forces,” said Board Member David MacGrotty explaining the success of the event. “The ‘Bellies are very fortunate to have the support of all our sponsors, the WLA, the City of New Westminster, all branches of the Canadian Forces and, most of all, the fans who came out to show their support in a big way.”
Like last year, the event will feature military displays, bands and bagpipers throughout the night. All Armed Forces, Legion Members, Veterans, Cadets and their families will get into the game free and partial proceeds from the night will be donated to The Military Family Resource Centre, which offers support for families of soldiers who are serving overseas. The players will be wearing camouflage jerseys specially designed for the event and, in the off season, goaltender Matt Roik’s mask was painted as a permanent tribute to soldiers past and present. If you’re planning to attend, please wear red to show your support for the Salmonbellies and for Canadian Troops.
The Seats for Soldiers event will take place TONIGHT (June 3rd) at Queen’s Park Arena when the Salmonbellies play host to the Victoria Shamrocks. In addition to all the military related special events, lacrosse fans will also get to see the top two teams in the WLA play for first place. Game time is at 7:45 and the first 500 fans will get RBC Thundersticks at the door.
Tonight, historic Queen’s Park Arena will open its doors for the first time this season as the Royal City’s beloved Senior Salmonbellies lacrosse team will be playing their home opener. Returning to the wooden floor for the first time since their heart-wrenching, game seven, overtime loss in last September’s Mann Cup series, the team is fresh and ready to start over in their drive for the 25th championship in club history.
New West will play host to the Langley Thunder beginning at 7:45pm. These two teams last met in round one of the 2009 Western Lacrosse Association play-offs when the ‘Bellies knocked the Thunder out in four straight games.
The 2010 season began for the ‘Bellies on Friday when they took to the road and beat the Lakers 9-3 in Burnaby. Since then, many of the team’s star players have returned from their off-season commitments of playing in the National Lacrosse League and in colleges and universities all over the continent. It is anticipated that the squad will be completely reunited by June 1.
Tonight is New Westminster Minor Lacrosse Appreciation Night. Every minor Salmonbellie who comes to the door in uniform will be admitted for free along with their family. (Langley minors in uniform will also be let in for free.) Tickets, for those without a uniform (or a NW minor) are available at the door. The Barn will open at 7pm and the first 500 fans in the door will receive a ‘Bellies magnet courtesy of ReMax Advantage Realty.
Come out and support the most historic team in lacrosse, your New Westminster Senior Salmonbellies, as they kick off their 121st season!
Carly Rigby is a New Westminster resident and Salmonbellies social media maven and is the voice behind @salmonbellies on Twitter.
I am the singular regular Tenth to the Fraser contributor who loves sports. I’m a hockey fan – primarly Vancouver Giants but I’d take tickets to the Canucks, the Chillwack Bruins, the Abbotsford Heat, or more or less anything at our local arenas. I’m also a former soccer player, coach, and referee of both women’s and girls’ soccer here in New Westminster. I like organized sports – I think they build valuable skills like working with a team, being cooperative, attaining goals, and friendly competition. New Westminster offers many options in the way of team sports at the youth and adult level, and our great climate and numerous facilities mean there is rarely a Saturday or Sunday where the fields in New Westminster are not being utilized. Pretty much all sports teams take a break at the holidays (except those Junior Hockey boys with their annual Boxing Day tournament start) but that doesn’t mean you can’t get a team fix under the tree.
- Salmonbellies Season Tickets: Behold the awesomeness that is lacrosse. Despite a heartbreaking overtime loss in game seven of the Mann Cup final, the ‘Bellies are a New Westminster institution. I see tonnes of Salmonbellies logo stickers on cars here in town, and I love the fact that if you aren’t from New West or a lacrosse fan, you probably have no idea what that unmarked W with a salmon swimming through it means. It’s like a secret handshake. Even if you’re not a sports fan, if you are from here, you probably know what it stands for. 2010 Season tickets, which include 9 games, are a measly $55 for adults, $50 for students and seniors, and $35 for kids. Total. That means at most you are paying just over six bucks a game for an adult for top level, homegrown lacrosse. Um, hello, awesome much? Also, why not complete the gift with a trip to the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame, located in Centennial Community Centre. We’re talking about a national hall of fame about our national sport. Admission to the Hall of Fame is free – and they are open Monday – Thursday, 9:00 am – 9:00 pm, Friday, 9:00 am – 8:00 pm, Saturday, 8:30 am – 1:30 pm, Sunday, 8:30 am – 12:00 pm. (And PS: the Mann Cup and the Minto Cup reside there.)
- Portable BBQ for Hyack Football Tailgate Parties: I didn’t really grow up with youth level football as the sport of choice (it was soccer and rugby in my hometown) so this whole GO HYACKS thing is a bit foreign. Football has always felt a bit American High School to me – like cheerleaders and prom – but this past season, I’ll admit I’ve been paying attention ever since I happened to catch a piece on the evening news talking about how the AAA Hyacks were No 1 in their league and how most of the players (and coaches) are destined for greatness. (the Hyacks fell in the finals to the Centennial team this past weekend and are 2nd in the province but we love them anyway). You can buy Hyack Merch at the school and also at Prime Time Sports, but also consider a little BBQ from the Army and Navy for a tailgate party to do it up right.
- Batting Practise at the Bullpen Batting Cages: I’ve played a few seasons of slo-pitch, although admittedly it was more of an excuse to drink contraband beverages outdoors in the summer than anything. But the first few games of the season I have to shake some serious cobwebs off the ol’ muscles to re-learn how to hit properly. I’m not exactly Justin Morneau here, but I would think any ball player could use a bit of batting practise during the off season. Fortunately, New Westminster has a hand-fed batting cage that can chuck you pitches at baseball, softball, or slo-pitch speed. Remember, the machines are hand fed, so your gift also needs to include you as the machine feeder. $30/ hour.
- Footie Gear from Sherlock’s: This is one of those awesome shops that puts two things together that might go but just might not. Sort of like chocolate and peanut butter. British sweets and groceries, and authentic, reasonably priced English Premier League clothes and accesories to show your allegiance. You can buy online (follow that link) or you can pop by the store located at 659 Columbia Street.
- Sports Gear from Prime Time Sports – This little family owned sports store has long been a favourite of mine. Here’s a quick story – I have small feet (size 6 women’s) and most sports stores do not carry soccer cleats that are real leather in such a small size, the theory being that most people with feet that small are kids, and vinyl soccer boots will be a smarter choice since they are cheaper, more durable and likely to be grown out of quickly. I have never been disappointed shopping at Prime Time Sports and have bought no less than three pairs at PrimeTime Sports at excellent prices with good service. I think this shop is truly underrated tucked away in Royal City Centre. Granted, their hockey gear selection is more or less nil, but the fact that you can choose from more than one pair of shin guards makes them a-ok in my book.
A shipment of lacrosse sticks, warm-up jerseys, balls and assorted New Westminster Salmonbellies paraphernalia arrived on the base last month. They got to open it Christmas Eve.
“They were really excited,” said Tracy Brown, a Burnaby resident who got it all started.
“It was the hockey players that got their hands on it first. Some of them had never tried it so they all had the T-shirts on and went out to the rink right away and started playing with it.”
Brown has a friend whose brother, Brent Vanover, is a rabid Salmonbellies fan stationed in Afghanistan. She hooked him up with Salmonbellies president Dan Richardson, who organized the shipment that took about two months to get there, having to jump several bureaucratic hoops and getting sent to the U.S. postal depot instead of Canada’s.