John Topping announces the lineup for the Special Olympics Charity Golf Spectacular banquet.

John Topping announces the lineup for the Special Olympics Charity Golf Spectacular banquet.

Hockey greats converge on city

One is currently trying to dash the hopes of Vancouver Canucks fans everywhere. One is a Hockey Hall of Famer and soon-to-be Order of Canada recipient. One is a coach of two of the NHL’s brightest rookies, and his brother-in-law guided the Vernon Lakers to their first Centennial Cup appearance.

Together, the quartet – Barry Trotz, head coach of the Nashville Predators; Howie Meeker, former NHL rookie of the year and Hockey Night in Canada commentator; Edmonton Oilers head coach Tom Renney, who is overseeing the development of studs Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle and his brother-in-law Ernie Gare, a long-time scout for the Toronto Maple Leafs and New York Rangers who led the Lakers to the Centennial Cup tournament in Prince Edward Island in 1989 – will be at the head table as guest speakers for the Special Olympics Charity Golf Spectacular sports banquet.

The banquet will take place June 17 at the Temptasian Restaurant at 6 p.m. It happens in the midst of the Special Olympics Charity Golf Spectacular, slated for June 17 to 19 at the Spallumcheen Golf and Country Club’s executive course.

“We’ve had people like Walter Gretzky, Hayley Wickenheiser, Jim Taylor and Jim Robson speak at our banquet in the past,” said event organizer John Topping. “But I don’t think we’ve ever had such a super array of great people like we have this year.”

Meeker, who receives the Order of Canada May 27, Trotz, whose team is currently battling the Canucks in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, Renney and Gare will speak at the banquet, which will feature an eight-course, family-style meal and live auction.

The auction will include autographed sweaters from players such as Shea Weber and Cody Franson of the Predators, and Hall from the Oilers.

Tickets for the sports banquet are $50 per person, and Topping said the event is already half-full without having been advertised.

“We have room for about 165 people,” he said.

The golf tournament can accommodate around 500 golfers, and Topping said more than 200 have already registered.

The tournament is open to teams of four, which must be co-ed, at a cost of $80. Teams can by all-women, but not all-men.

Among the golf tournament highlights will be a chance to win a $50,000 hole-in-one prize from Home Building Centre. Half of the prize is cash, the other half is $25,000 worth of product from Home Building Centre.

There will be five men and five women qualifiers each day of the tournament, so 30 people will have a shot at the hole-in-one (150 yards for men, 135 yards for women).

Qualifiers will be determined by a closest-to-the-pin event held before each team tees off at a specially-marked 100-yard hole.

Money raised from the event help the Vernon branch of Special Olympics. Two athletes – Robert Penning and Marcus Carberry – are going to Athens, Greece in July representing Canada in softball at the Special Olympics World Games.

“We have 140 athletes in 14 different sports progams,” explained Vernon Special Olympics promotions director Britta Gretzmacher. “We offer all of these in Vernon throughout the year, and the money we raise goes toward those programs.”

More information on the sports banquet and golf tournament can be found online at and tickets for the banquet can be purchased by phoning Topping at 250-545-1287.


More information on the local Special Olympics program can be found at