Daryl Berger dropped the phone when his wife Pam handed it to him after telling him she had won the Spruce Kings Show Home Lottery.
He thought she was kidding when she relayed the news from Show Home Lottery manager Liz Bennett that they were the owners of a $670,000 furnished home as the grand prize winners in Friday’s draw.
“We were just flabbergasted, we never dreamed we’d win, we’ve always supported the Spruce Kings for many years and just never dreamed it would be our ticket out of 11,000,” said Pam. (Daryl) thought I was losing it on the phone. We’re still pretty stunned. We went to get our mail yesterday and missed the stop and had to turn around; we probably shouldn’t have been driving.”
The Bergers buy one or two show home tickets every year and have been supporters of the Kings biggest annual fundraiser for 15 years. Pam bought three tickets online in December. She remembered Friday was draw day but had no idea the call was coming their way.
Daryl used to work for the regional district in Vanderhoof and sometimes his job put him behind the wheel of the Zamboni at Vanderhoof arena. Hockey runs in the family and the Bergers are second cousins of Spruce Kings forward Linden Makow.
“We’ve got relatives that play hockey and we really believe in junior hockey for the kids, it’s so nice for them to have a sport to do and it’s such a great team,” said Pam. “I knew the draw was coming up but I wasn’t really thinking about it. We just got up and had our coffee and were making our plans for the day when the phone rang.”
Both in their early 60s, the Bergers retired last August and moved to Prince George from Vanderhoof in September when they bought a house in the Haldi subdivision at the south end of the city. They had wanted to live in the Hart area but couldn’t find a house they wanted. Now they’ll get their wish. The show home is at 2754 Links Dr., bordering on the Aberdeen Glen Golf Course, and they plan to move in as soon as they can. The 2,600 square-foot house, built by Hopson Construction, has three bedrooms, three bathrooms and a two-car garage.
“It’s so beautifully done and finished and they had all those sponsors to do that, it’s a huge list,” said Pam. “I like the overall layout of it. They made the entranceway and the stairs all wide with the idea that kids with their hockey bags always need lots of room. We’re definitely moving in.
“We’re not golfers but we may become because we’re very close to the sixth hole, apparently. We haven’t gone to any (Spruce Kings) games for a while because they haven’t had any, but we’ll definitely be going (next season).”
The 39th annual lottery sold out on April 24, five days ahead of the draw. The team started ticket sales on Nov. 27. Kings business operations manager Kyle Anderson says the sellout ensures the community-owned club will be able to continue to compete in the B.C. Hockey League next season. Profits from the lottery annually provide most of the team’s operating budget for the season, which he said is close to $900,000.
“There’s only three ways we can offset our expenses for the hockey team and that’s ticket sales, sponsorship sales and show home ticket sales, so it’s probably close to 80, if not 90 per cent,” said Anderson. “If the show home lottery didn’t exist or if we had a bad one it could potentially kill the team.
With nobody buying tickets for their games at Rolling Mix Concrete Arena during the pandemic, the Kings have still been incurring expenses this spring. They’ve been stuck in a hotel for the past month playing a 20-game season in the Chilliwack pod.
“The expenses obviously aren’t as high with the (lack of) travel but we’re still in a hotel for 42 nights, which is almost the same as a normal season,” said Anderson. “But we don’t have the ticket sales and sponsorship is down obviously, so having the sold-out show home is a huge help.”
With five games left, the Spruce Kings sport an 11-3-1-0 record and are in first place in the three-team pod heading into today’s game against Merritt.
The Kings also picked a winner of the second of their Mega 50-50 draws and Marlaine Mohr ended up with a $100,000 payday. Mohr and the Bergers don’t know each other but they’re practically neighbours, living about 400 metres apart from each other.