By Mike Anderson

Coming off a strong playoff run last season, the Georgina Ice Junior Hockey Club will kick off its 30th anniversary season at the Ice Palace on Saturday, September 16, with its first-ever Hockey Day in Georgina.

The event will feature two alumni games and four minor hockey games, with the club’s season opener against the Port Perry Lumberjacks set for 7:30 p.m.

For the price of a $10 wrist ban, fans can watch a full day of hockey and enjoy live music from the Connors Brothers, a Kids Fun Zone featuring target shooting, air hockey and a photo booth, as well as face painting, giveaways, a tailgate BBQ and a variety of vendors.

Michael Cornacchia, VP of Business and Hockey Operations, came up with the idea after being inspired by the success of Hockey Day in Canada.

“The goal of Hockey Day in Canada, with Canadian teams playing each other, is to bring Canada together with hockey and introduce new people to the sport. And that’s exactly what we want to do here,” said Cornacchia.

“We want to bring our community together for a day to celebrate not only Georgina Ice but our youth and our kids in hockey, and just let them experience playing in front of our fans.”

“Maybe one day they may want to come back and play for the Georgina Ice, and their families will be in the stands cheering them on.”

Established in 1994, the Georgina Ice, a Junior “C” hockey club, plays in the East Orr Division of the Provincial Junior Hockey League (PJHL), which boasts more than 60 teams.

Over 30 years, Georgina Ice has built a rich hockey tradition, with more former players, like Joel Hanley and Sean Walker, in the NHL than any other team in the league.

Last season, the Ice finished with a winning record and its first playoff series win in five years. The team also received Rookie of the Year and Coaching Staff of the Year awards.

Michael Cornacchia
Ronnie Wiersema awarded 2022-23 Rookie of the Year

And, so far, the signs are pointing to another great season, with the Ice winning four straight pre-season games.

“Last season was a transformative year for us. The boys played well. Everybody came together,” Cornacchia said.

“But one of the most significant building blocks was winning our first playoff series in five years. That was a huge step for our team and for our returning players this year. “

While the team had 17 rookies last year, Cornacchia believes the experience gained from last year’s playoff run will pay dividends this season.

“Those players are going to be a little more seasoned, and it will show on the ice,” he said.

“We’re going to improve over last season, and we should finish in the top three of our division.”

Last season, the Ice also enjoyed record attendance, with some games drawing over a thousand fans.

“The fans are coming out to support us,” he said. “This year we’ve added more fan experiences; we’ve really cranked it up.”

“We have two shootouts during the first intermission. There’s Bailey’s Hometown Shootout, and we’ve added Turkey Shoot Hometown Shootout.”

“We’ll pick two people for the first intermission now. There will be a 19 plus who will shoot to win a Turkey Shoot Brewing Co. prize pack. And then we’ll have an under-19 fan who will shoot at the Bailey’s one.”

Cornacchia says the second intermission will feature “Chuck-A-Puck,” where fans purchase a numbered puck and toss it over the glass towards “Icy,” the team’s mascot at centre ice. The closest puck to Icy’s stick wins a prize.

To complement the hometown siren, the club will also unveil three new drummers stationed in Section 94, also known as the Hometown Corner.

“We’ve turned our building into one of the best arenas in the league, and it’s probably the loudest,” Cornacchia laughs.

While the excitement level may be higher this season, one of the biggest draws continues to be affordability, with a Family Pass, two adults and four kids, costing just $30.

“This year, we reduced our family packs even further; we’re doing $30 now, which ties into our 30th anniversary,” Cornacchia said.

“You’re getting six people to the game for $30, or $5 a person. I don’t think there’s anything a family can go to in town for that.”

“Coming to the Ice Palace or what we call our Icehouse on a Friday night is probably your best value for a family night out in our community.”

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