Big week in Summerside

Joe MacIntyre
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Boys and Girls Club celebrity golf tournament, harness racing highlight agenda

The Summerside Boys and Girls Club’s 11th annual celebrity golf tournament and dinner goes next week, and the 2014 event is the biggest yet.

The event has become so popular that two days are required to accommodate the 80 teams registered for the golf tournament at the Summerside Golf Club. Tee-off times are noon Monday and Tuesday, and the golf is preceded by the celebrity dinner at Credit Union Place on Monday evening.

The dinner has some big names at the head table, including the 2014 Olympic women's bobsled gold-medallists Heather Moyse and Kaillie Humphries, along with former Toronto Blue Jay great Tony Fernandez, Boston Bruins legend Ray Bourque, Bobby Hull and Summerside native and Florida Panthers head coach Gerard Gallant amongst others.

The very popular Walter Gretzky, the father of hockey great Wayne Gretzky, is back for another year. Former NHL players Bob Sweeney, Marty McSorley and Al Iafrate will also be here.

No celebrity event on P.E.I. would be complete without our own Island contingent of celebrities, including Adam McQuaid, Brett Gallant, Drew MacIntyre and Forbie Kennedy to name but a few. It sounds like a real fun three days, and good luck to everyone associated with this very popular event.     

Lobster Festival harness racing

Another popular event begins at Red Shores at Summerside Raceway on Sunday, with the first of seven consecutive harness racing cards. The weeklong meet will culminate with the Governor's Plate on Saturday, July 19.

This year's big race carries a record purse of $25,000, up from last year's $22,000. If memory serves me right, the first-ever Governor's Plate back in 1969 carried a purse of $2,500.

Take from that what you like, but one thing is for sure – this race has withstood the test of time and, in my opinion, has become the race to win for Maritime horsemen.

This year's race marks the 30th anniversary of the Island's first-ever sub-two-minute mile. On July 20, 1984, driver Doug Walsh guided the great Winners Accolade to a 1:59.2 victory in the Governor’s Plate for owner George Canning. Winners Accolade became known as The Pacing Machine on the Maritime circuit, and he was in full form on that evening almost 30 years to the day.

Fans will remember that as the night the late Bob Dewar, who was running Summerside Raceway at the time, was so excited to set that record that he kissed the track. There have been a lot of real good horses win this race since, with many track records established in the process.

The times have improved over six full seconds since that 1984 miracle mile. PH Bestman and driver Todd Trites set the current track pacing record of 1:53.1 in the 2010 Plate.

It will take a real good horse and near perfect conditions to set a new track record. The long-range weather looks good, and we will know how good the horses are after the two Governor's Plate elimination races on Sunday and Monday.

It will be a great week of racing and a week that many look forward to.

Together again

It is great to see Mike Kelly get another shot in the NHL.

Kelly was named an assistant coach with the Florida Panthers under newly-appointed head coach Gerard (Turk) Gallant.

It is a reunion of sorts for Kelly, who grew up in Shamrock, P.E.I., and Gallant, who is from Summerside. The duo obviously worked very together as they had all kinds of success in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League during their three years with the Saint John Sea Dogs.

It is obvious that Gallant holds Kelly in high regard to offer him the position. Kelly certainly deserves the opportunity, and the NHL experience he gained as an assistant in Vancouver, combined with years of coaching and managing at different levels, make Kelly a great choice.

Gallant and Kelly won a Memorial Cup together in Saint John, and there are a lot of new Panther fans on Prince Edward Island that would love to see them win a Stanley Cup together in Florida.

That may seem like a dream, but as we seen in this year's NHL playoffs the Eastern Conference is wide open as very little separates a lot of teams.

Gallant and Kelly work for one of the better general managers in the NHL, and we have seen what a great job Dale Tallon did in helping turn the Chicago Blackhawks into Stanley Cup winners. The Panthers have some very good young talent, and were one of the more active teams in signing free agents this year.

Gallant and Kelly have proven they get the best out of their players, and there is little doubt that they will do just that in Florida.

It was great to see Gallant get the Florida job, and it’s even better that he now has Kelly with him. Best of luck to both Islanders!       

Joe MacIntyre is a Summerside resident. His column appears every second Saturday. Comments and suggestions can be sent to j-mac@eastlink.ca.

Organizations: NHL, Florida Panthers, Boys and Girls Club Summerside Golf Club Credit Union Place Toronto Blue Jay Boston Bruins The Pacing Machine Quebec Major Junior Hockey League Chicago Blackhawks

Geographic location: Summerside, Prince Edward Island, Florida Vancouver Saint John

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