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‘The timing worked out perfectly’: Prince George Cougars ensuring everyone can enjoy Family Day with free game

Brains behind the operation encouraged by CN Rail’s full-arena purchase

2:30 p.m.

The Feb. 17 Family Day game is now sold out.

Roughly four hours after today's (Jan. 8) announcement of a free Prince George Cougars game, TicketsNorth confirmed to PrinceGeorgeMatters the event has no more tickets available.

A spokesperson added there were 50 tickets 'on hold' but were near sale completion.

1:30 p.m.

It’s no secret that Prince George quickly becomes a second home for those who venture to the city a career, meeting new people and claiming a northern family.

In the case of Nolan Blasko, he left the comforts of Stouffville, Ont. to take an account executive position with the Prince George Cougars this past summer and has since established the organization and fellow colleagues as his new family.

When he was tasked to finding a sponsor for the 2019-20 season’s Family Day game, he said CN Rail made the most sense as the company’s name is stamped to the arena.

“I’ve heard a lot about when the team first moved in and the great atmosphere and we still have great games with that too,” said Blasko in an interview with PrinceGeorgeMatters.

“CN has been totally on board in helping create this arena great place for Family Day, and the timing worked out perfectly in ensuring that this is the event to do on Family Day. [...] It’ll be great just to have everyone come together, really the entire community come down for one game and just enjoy it.”

In wanting the community to embrace the statutory holiday on Monday, Feb. 17, CN Rail is celebrating its 100th birthday by purchasing all 5,405 seats in the CN Centre so the public can attend Prince George’s matinee contest completely free of charge.

According to the Cougars, this is potentially a Western Hockey League first in having a business buy an entire rink so that families can bring their loved ones, take in a hockey game and enjoy off-ice perks. 

“Once we got the wheels spinning and got the right contact, Andy [Beesley] and I were both on the phone with them and thought that if they wanted to get more involved, you either go big or go home,” explains Blasko on how the conversation started between the two organizations.

For him, Family Day resonates in the same sense as Christmas when everybody does the best they can to get together and enjoy each other’s company.

That’s a feeling Blasko instantly received when being added to the Cougars’ front office and feels he has a chance to bring other families together through CN’s generous offer.

“When I first moved out here and working with everybody in the office, it’s very much like a family and I think just having everyone together, you can see just how everybody knows each other,” he said. 

“I knew I was going to be very welcomed with open arms and having the opportunity to try a bunch of projects like this. It’s been very open and it’s great knowing I have a chance to help make this team and this community better.”

Once the final buzzer blows on the 2 p.m. tilt against the Red Deer Rebels, the Prince George players will host a Family Day skate; families asked to bring skates and helmets if they wish to take part.

Spirit of the North Healthcare Foundation will be the charity sponsor that day.

In addition, ‘Little Obie,’ CN’s popular mini-train, is making its first appearance in the northern capital since the 2015 Canada Winter Games, offering free rides for the public in the CN Centre parking lot from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. 

Fans can go to TicketsNorth.ca to reserve a maximum of six seats for the Family Day Game by using the promocode ‘CNRAIL100.’

At least 1,300 tickets are being put aside for CN Rail workers and pensioners. 

More information is available on the Prince George Cougars’ website.




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Kyle  Balzer

About the Author: Kyle Balzer

Kyle Balzer graduated with distinction from BCIT's Broadcast & Online Journalism program in 2016. Since moving to Prince George, he has covered a variety of stories from education & Indigenous relations, to community interests & sports.
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