On March 26, the Cooper Nemeth Hockey Memorial returned to Gateway Recreation Centre after a two-year hiatus prompted by the seemingly never-ending COVID pandemic.
Returning in full with four games (U-13, U-15, U-18, Alumni) the day-long event saw players from AA hockey across Winnipeg – Cooper’s former level of play – earn spots on the honorary teams facing off in a one-game showdown per age group, with player prizes and a post-game pizza party following the game action.
Running from 11:00 AM to 7:00 PM, the day-long tribute/fundraiser was highlighted by a thrilling come-from-behind victory by the U-18 squad made up of players from the Winnipeg Twins, St. James Canadians and Transcona Railcats.
This past year, $17,760 was raised in Nemeth’s honour through the third annual running of the event. $5 admission was charged, while 16 silent auction prizes were bid on and handed out.
“A huge thank you to our generous sponsors, the donors that helped to make up those amazing silent auction prizes, our players, coaches, refs, timekeepers, everyone who bought tickets and took the time out of your day to come and take part, and last but most definitely not least, our amazing team of volunteers,” a statement read from the event’s official Instagram page. “We truly appreciate everyone for making this day so special – We will see you next year!”
All proceeds from the fundraising event were donated to Hockey Winnipeg’s Cooper Nemeth Memorial Player Assistance Fund.
The fund was created in advance of the 2019-20 season to help offset the costs of playing hockey at the AA level. The Cooper Nemeth Memorial Player Assistance Fund is intended to assist children and youth who would not otherwise participate in minor hockey related activities. Players/families interested in applying for funding are asked to fully complete the application form found on the Hockey Winnipeg website.
This funding may include, but would not be limited to, the following incurred expenses: Area Association program participation, administrative and volunteer fees; league and exhibition game travel expenses; additional ice fees, including try-out ice; tournament fees; monies collected for team pictures and wind-up parties; medals and awards; and personal clothing items which become the property of the applicable player.
And once again, the Cooper Nemeth Memorial Hockey 50/50 Draw has returned. With a draw date of Sunday, August 21, the contest closes the night before, Saturday, August 20. To view the draw and purchase tickets, visit https://myevent.com/cn5050. E-Transfers and cash purchases are also available.
Nemeth (1998-2016) was a prominent Grade 12, Midget AA hockey player for the River East Marauders, who went missing after a house party in February of 2016. The Bear Clan Patrol squad amongst thousands of others spent days searching the many neighbourhoods of Winnipeg, until Nemeth’s body was found.
Following an extensive investigation, Nemeth’s death was ruled a murder in a ‘drug deal gone wrong’. His assailant Nicholas Bell-Wright – who was on probation following a previous violent attack – pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in November of 2017, and has since been locked away on an automatic life sentence, with no chance of parole for another 14 years.
For those feeling lonely or in danger, the Kids Help Phone now offers textual communication. Text the word ‘CONNECT’ to 686868 for immediate assistance on the Crisis Text Line at any time 24/7/365.