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Down to the wire

The time is drawing close for the first leg of the Experiences Canada hockey exchange program between the Rankin Rock atoms and peewee teams and the Mimico Canadiens of Toronto, Ont.

Members of the 2017 Arctic Atoms champion Rankin Rock A team who are expected to take part in an exchange program with players from Toronto this coming month are, back row from left, Justin Towtongie (stick boy), Terence Pilakapsi (water boy), Katie Bell (head coach), Ben Kusugak, William Hartman, Gregory Wiseman, Seth Hamilton, Wayne Kusugak (assistant coach) and Owen Conelly-Clark (stick boy); middle row from left, Kane Towtongie, Nuqallaq Okpatauyak, Kayden Eetuk, Darren Jr. Ikakhik, Liam Tattuinee, Blake Kusugak, Inuk Brown (Kowmuk) and Ben Tulugak; and front, goalie Preston Kaludjak. NNSL file photo

The Rock players are scheduled to leave for Ontario on Oct. 6.

About 60 kids are expected to take part in the exchange, which will see Mimico arrive in Rankin Inlet in April 2018.

The exchange program is a costly endeavour for both sides and atoms head coach Katie Bell is hoping to see a strong flourish of ticket sales in The Really Big Raffle Draw the Rock are currently hosting to raise funds for the program.

Bell said the Rock are taking 32 kids to Ontario, with 16 of them subsidized by Experiences Canada, which paid their return trip airfare.

She said the Rock had to come up with another $50,000 just to make sure all the airfares are covered.

“Other expenses include food, activities during the 10 days the kids will be in Ontario, hotel rooms for the chaperones and hotel rooms in Winnipeg because we're laid over on the trip for a night,” said Bell.

“And, we still have to pay for the Toronto kids when they get here in April.

“They're going to want to go ice fishing, go out to the elders' cabin, go on qamutiik rides, eat country food and experience all the Northern things that we do up here, so we're going to have to raise a lot of money for that because Toronto is paying for most of our activities while we're down there.”

Bell said it's been a slow start to raffle ticket sales and the Rock have almost everything riding on the final sale numbers.

“The raffle represents a significant portion of our fundraising efforts, so, again, we're hoping to see an increase in sales as the draw date gets ever closer.

“We're pretty dependent on the generosity of our hockey community and the community in general, and we're sure when all is said and done the numbers will be there for us, as they always are, in support of this wonderful opportunity.”

The Really Big Raffle was made possible by the donations of businesses such as Eskimo Point Lumber, Inukshuk Construction, NDL Construction Ltd., NUNA, Sakku Investments Corp. and Umingmak Supply.