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PHOTOS: Prince George Cougars Eighth Alumni Charity Golf Tournament in full swing

Part-owner, current NHLer Dan Hamhuis made last-minute trip to honour Gary Samis

Almost 25 Prince George Cougars alumni were in attendance for the 2019 Charity Golf Tournament today (July 13).

One could argue that they all had one person on their minds, who always brought them together for this annual event in raising money for the Spirit of the North Healthcare Foundation and helped them understand how much the community appreciated their time in a Cougars’ sweater.

Gary Samis was the tournament chairman since its 2012 inception and for Dan Hamhuis, part-owner of the Western Hockey League (WHL) franchise and current defenceman with the NHL’s Nashville Predators, he felt the need to come up for the eighth annual event after his initial weekend plans got changed.

“I always feel it's important to come back and support this great cause,” said Hamhuis in an interview with PrinceGeorgeMatters, “And this year is a little extra special in honouring Samis, who was such as big part of the Prince George Cougars organization, but especially this golf tournament. His hands are all over it and so its a special year to kind of honour his legacy.”

The 36-year-old ex-Cougar made a last-minute decision to join his former teammates at the Prince George Golf and Curling Club, in which the team tweeted at Noon on Friday (July 12) that he was flying to the northern capital, because he wanted to honour the legacy that Samis had built since the beginning.

While interactions between the two may have been minimal, Hamhuis says he was always in brighter spirits after talking with Samis.

“More around the golf tournament, Gary and I would be in contact putting some of the trips together and getting things organized,” he explained. “The memory I have of Gary is when you chat with him, or around him, your day just seems to get better. He’s a guy that just had this positive energy and a little sparkle in his eye all the time [...] I don’t think his legacy will ever be forgotten about what he’s done here. He’s the guy that built this tournament to what it is and I don’t think it’ll ever be forgotten.”

Proceeds from the Cougars’ golf tournament are going towards a Vivid Q Cardiac Ultrasound for anesthesiologists at the University Hospital of Northern B.C. (UHNBC), with a fundraising goal of $80,000.

Regardless of how much money is raised, or how good of a game he has today with zero rounds prior to the first tee, Hamhuis is grateful to see his fellow alumni get involved with the cause and give back to their former hockey community.

He adds honouring 'The Commish' and his contributions will go above and beyond the event itself.

“It's always a nice opportunity to get the alumni together,” said Hamhuis. “We all share that special bond of being Prince George Cougars; we all have fond memories, especially myself. I have very good memories of my time playing junior hockey here and, you know, this community just supports the team and its players so well. As a player, when you come back up here, you feel embraced by the community and so this is a good opportunity for all of us to give back.”

The Cougars also hosted a silent and live auction Friday night at the CN Centre, where Samis’ son Ryan also got the chance to speak on behalf of the family.

The total funds raised from that dinner, the golf tournament, and the live and silent auction this evening will be announced at a later date.