The Hunter Brothers are a country band from Saskatchewan. They also happen to be very good hockey players.
Organizer Shawn Gramlich classified them as the five best players at this year’s Icebreaker Hockey fundraiser in Slave Lake.
“Do you guys suck at anything?” Gramlich asked them.
One of the brothers responded that he’s terrible at spelling.
The banquet and concert was “the best fun we’ve every had,” says Gramlich. “Charlie Major was supposed to play last and the Hunter Brothers open, but he wanted to switch. Charlie played all his hits. Hunter Brothers came on and stole the show.”
The Hunter Brothers brought was the most energy Gramlich’s seen at a country show with the possible exception of Garth Brooks.
Before the concert, Gramlich wasn’t very familiar with the brothers. After seeing them in concert, he’d like to bring them back to a larger venue.
The older crowd came to see Major, Gramlich says, but the younger people were definitely there to see the Hunter Brothers.
The banquet and concert were held at a private acreage with a capacity of 304 tickets. Six volunteers roasted couple pigs and the Slave Lake Native Friendship Centre made salads and homemade baked beans.
“The food was great,” Gramlich says. “Probably the best we’ve had.”
This year, the hockey game attendance was down. The arena has space for 750 spectators, and other years it has sold out. This year, 500 tickets were sold ahead and only 280 people showed up at the game.
The Oiler’s mascot ‘Hunter the Lynx’ came. He is named after the founder of the Oilers and is a lynx because they are one of the wild cats in Alberta.
The kid’s loved him, Gramlich says.
NHL alumni included Paul Coffey, Marty McSorley, and others. MLA Pat Rehn, Devin Dreeshan, Minister of Ag. and Forestry, and local people also played.
Going forward, the focus might end up being more on the banquet and concert than the hockey game, Gramlich says.
The Icebreaker started six years ago, when the Junior and Senior hockey teams had no money. Gramlich set up a game between Oilers alumni and local guys.
The next year, Gramlich’s nephew Landon Persson passed away, and the family decided to start the fund and asked him to organize a second game.
“It’s like a full-time job for me,” Gramlich says.
This will be the last year that the Landon Persson Memorial Fund and Gramlich will do all of the organization. In upcoming years, local charities will bid for what they would like to do for the event for a percentage of the final take.
It was a break even year, Gramlich says. Left over funds from last year will go to Slave Lake Gymnastics.