Hodge: A hodge-podge of local items

Hockey and rock opera pique columnist Charlie Hodge’s interest this week.

No sense having a column titled HodgePodge unless I occasionally cover a smattering of thoughts in one session.

First, a jealous congratulations to former Kelowna Rocket Leon Draisaitl who signed an eight-year, $68 million contract with the Edmonton Oilers Wednesday. That’s a lot of steak and lobster meals!

Draisaitl had a tremendous third season with the Oilers last year racking up 77 points including 29 goals and five game winners. In addition he was a standout for the team in their playoff rounds, likely the best player on the ice for the club.

The skilled German-born player was second overall on the Oilers in goals, assists, and points last year behind superstar center Connor McDavid.

Draisaitl was a restricted free agent. The contract has an average annual value of $8.5 million and keeps him with Edmonton through the 2024-25 season.

Good for you Leon and I am free for lunch anytime (I wish).

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Speaking of Kelowna hockey, here is a shout-out to any former Kelowna Buckaroos in the area.

The Buckaroos franchise will be inducted into the Central Okanagan Sports Hall of Fame Nov. 17 and organizers are hoping to contact former players about the event. If you are a former player or member of the club, or if you know of any members, please contact either myself at charliehodge333@gmail.com or Tun Wong at wongtun@gmail.com.

The popular former junior A club’s roots date back to 1951-52 when they were known as the Kelowna Packers in a three-team league Okanagan Senior Amateur Hockey League. In 1961-1962 the senior league folded and four Junior B teams in the Valley formed the Okanagan Mainline Junior Hockey with the Buckaroos the new local team.

In 1967 the league changed names to the B.C. Junior Hockey League with the team playing at Kelowna Memorial Arena until 1983. In 1983-84, Kelowna received a Tier 1 Junior club (the Wings) and the Buckaroos moved to Summerland until its demise in 1988.

The Buckaroos from 1961-1988 are being recognized.

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I must remind music and theatre fans to snag their tickets early for a spectacular locally written and produced rock-opera titled Raft.

Written by Randall Robinson and Pat Brown of Ten2Nine fame, the musical is a fast-action, toe-tapping story of the inner and outer demons faced by French painter Theodore Gericault during his creation of the epic painting Raft of the Medusa.

The show will run Sept.13 to 16 at the Mary Irwin Theatre, with five shows and I’m sure it will sell out well ahead of opening night. Raft is a slightly tweaked and improved rendition of the original score performed last year and titled Raft of the Medusa. Those performances received tremendous reviews and standing ovations.

Earlier this year Raft was sponsored by Theatre Kelowna Society at the O-Zone competition in Salmon Arm and was won for Best Musical Direction (Robinson), Best Musical Ensemble and Best Costumes.

Not only is the story line tremendous and spellbinding, but the music is superb. The entire performance is brilliant and, without question, the best musical-theatre production ever written and performed in the Okanagan.

The show includes a highly skilled orchestra, gifted singers and tremendous thespian skills. Among the many talented Okanagan Valley performers involved are Neville Bowman, Dustin McGifford, Annie Scott, Vince Walzak, and Anne Ramey,

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Last but not least a hearty congratulations to organizers Urban Bull Dogs and MadKatz Boxing Club, and participants of Saturday night’s Fight for Kids night at Rutland Centennial Hall. Tez and I had a great evening and the event was successful in raising approximately $18,000 towards assisting youth victims of violence. More details on where the money goes when organizers complete their tally.