The Williams Lake Stampeders finished their last two regular season games in the win column, and one lucky fan went home thousands of dollars richer Sunday during the team’s final home game of the season.
Justin Grinder purchased the golden ticket, and was selected as the winner of the $7,000 2018/19 Stamps Cash Raffle Draw winner during the game Sunday against the Terrace River Kings.
The team sold tickets throughout the season at games and online and presented prizes of $7,000, $2,000 for second and $1,000 for third Sunday.
“I can’t believe I won,” Grinder said. “Most awesome Sunday ever.”
Grinder said he bought one single ticket two months ago, and didn’t have his hopes up to win.
“I’m not sure what I’ll do with the money,” he said. “I haven’t really thought about it yet.”
The raffle, since it began last year, has become a hit with the fans, and also a great fundraiser for the team as it prepares for this year’s 2019 Coy Cup Seniors Men’s AA Hockey Championship, being held this year in Fort St. John.
Currently, though, the Stamps are in a dog fight for the top spot in the Central Interior Hockey League with playoffs on the horizon.
Heading into the weekend, the Stampeders, the Quesnel Kangaroos and the first-place Prince Rupert Rampage were all within a point of each other.
Williams Lake did its best to climb atop the standings and to secure a home-ice advantage for playoffs Saturday at the Cariboo Memorial Recreation Complex with a 6-3 win over the winless Kitimat Ice Demons, and followed that up with a 7-3 victory over the fourth-place Terrace River Kings Sunday afternoon.
Terrace was coming off a win Saturday over the Kangaroos, while Quesnel bounced back with a win at home over the Ice Demons Sunday.
Stampeders head coach Dave Lauzon said the team is focused now focused on winning its last two games.
“I don’t think we’re too worried about what other teams are doing, and more concerned about what we’re doing,” Lauzon said.
“When we have our full squad out we’re a tough team to play against.”
Lauzon added he was impressed with the play of Stampeders’ goaltender Dwayne Wilton Sunday.
“Guy stood on his head early in the game and made some key saves when the game was close,” Lauzon said.
“He’s a guy that works on his game endlessly and it’s paying off big time. He has improved so much in the past three years and it’s fun to see a guy like that go out and get his second win in this league against a legitimate opponent.
“That guy never misses practice and playing with the guys like (goaltenders) Willie (Sellars) and Justin (Foote) over the years really rubbed off on him.”
The team was also inspired by the positivity of the Williams Lake Atom Development team beating Quesnel to win gold in the final of their home tournament just prior to hitting the ice.
“Maybe that had something to do with it [our play],” Lauzon said.
With the wins Williams Lake is now 11-3-0 on the season, and will now face the Prince Rupert Rampage and the Terrace River Kings on the road, Jan. 26-27, respectively, in just under two weeks time to close out their regular season.
Playoff times and dates are to be determined depending on final regular season standings.
The Coy Cup will follow, later, in mid-March.