Steamboat’s Vladan Chase bringing pro hockey players to town as fundraiser for local families
The SSHS grad is teaming up with Dawg Nation and seeking sponsors
High-quality hockey is coming to Steamboat Springs next month in the form of a fundraising game featuring former professionals, prior college players and some locals.
Organizer Vladan Chase, a 2010 Steamboat Springs High School graduate and creator of the “Never Far From Home” podcast, is teaming up with the Dawg Nation Hockey Foundation, which provides families and individuals assistance and opportunities during times of crisis.
Following Dawg Nation’s model of giving back, the event will give tens of thousands of dollars to two Yampa Valley families in need that were selected by Chase and have ties to the hockey community.
“I had a couple families in mind that were hockey-based families,” Chase said. “They fit the bill in what type of people Dawg Nation is all about. … Simply put, it’s for the two families.”
The game is scheduled for July 23 at Howelsen Ice Arena. Tickets will be $20 and can be purchased in advance by emailing Chase at firstname.lastname@example.org or at the door. Any profits from the event will then go to Dawg Nation.
Updates about the event will be posted on the Never Far From Home Facebook page.
He’s still trying to acquire as many sponsors as possible — for anyone interested, contact Chase at email@example.com — as well as planning activities for the visiting players on July 23, ordering merchandise and facilitating a meet and greet and cookout after the game.
Of course, he’s also building a team of talented and somewhat local players to compete with Dawg Nation’s Top Dawgs team of former professionals and collegiate players. The Steamboat team will include former NHL goaltender and Yampa Valley resident Curtis McElhinney. Chase has named the team the Steamboat Mountain Screamers with a wildcat logo and colors resembling the Colorado Avalanche.
“Who doesn’t want to watch a bunch of cats and dogs playing out on the ice?” Chase said. “Yes, that’s 100% why I chose that name.”
Chase crossed paths with Dawg Nation in the early days of “Never Far From Home,” a podcast he started in January 2020 that now has 221 episodes of “tales from the rink.” Chase had Martin Richardson and Mike Freeman of Dawg Nation on a roundtable episode in October 2020 talking about the foundation and its mission.
Talking to them was inspiring for Chase, especially ahead of his cross-country trek to find stories nationwide to share on “Never Far From Home.”
“This is what I want ‘Never Far From Home’ to be,” Chase said, “this experience that goes so much deeper into the community aspect of things.”
Chase returned from his road trip in mid-August. Not long after that, fulfilling its motto of “Play hard, play fair, give back,” Dawg Nation took its Top Dawg team to compete in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. There, the foundation raised $60,000 for a widow who was eight months pregnant and already a mother of a 2-year-old.
Chase and Richardson envisioned bringing a similar event to Steamboat. The Top Dawg team is making the trip, but Chase is doing the heavy lifting on the planning end all while still churning out “Never Far From Home” episodes and working at North Routt Fire Rescue.
Chase said he’d be content to see 400 people attend the game but thinks the community can do better than that.
“My ultimate goal is 600 people to fill it,” Chase said. “Hockey fans and fans of the community alike will enjoy it a lot.”
To reach Shelby Reardon, call 970-871-4253, email sreardon@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.
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