Every junior hockey team is fueled by the commitment and passion of local volunteers.
Sam Hossack is one of those essential volunteers - a passionate hockey lover willing to give of his time and talents.
Hossack was in charge of the Terriers’ social media accounts and media relations for the past 18 months and was a big part of every game day, whether the team was at home at Rotary Place or on the road.
“On game nights, I get to the rink around 5 o’clock and talk with the players,” said Hossack. “I get some pre-game interviews done and then when warm-ups start, I run the music and take pictures, and then during the game I update our Twitter account with the score.”
Hossack’s passion for media relations started in an unlikely way when he was cut from the North Central Predators’ AAA team.
“I tried out for the North Central Predators. I wanted to take one last shot at hockey,” said the near 20-year-old Hossack.
"The year before the tryout, I wrote some pieces on Kyle Heitzner and some of his buddies who were playing in the OHL Cup just to support them, and it got noticed by one of the coaches of the North Central Predators,” Hossack explained. “So when I wasn’t able to make the team, they asked me if I wanted to do some stats and media stuff, so I thought it over and talked with my parents and I decided it was something I really wanted to do."
Hossack’s first steps in media relations were successful even though he had no prior related experience or education.
“It was just something I kind of learned on my own. I followed how other teams did it and took notes, and now I just try to make everything as perfect as I can,” he said.
Hossack’s efforts were admired by the coaching staff, players and even other teams.
Terriers general manager Andrew McDonald first caught wind of Hossack from his son who played for the Predators, and was a fellow student at Patrick Fogarty Catholic Secondary School (PF) where Hossack spent his high school career.
“My son said that there was a young man who would talk to him every day at school about our Junior C loop,” McDonald explained. “He said, ‘Dad he’s incredible, he knows all the stats from all the teams, he knows the deals that are being made, he’s very involved and he’s into it,’” recalls McDonald.
McDonald was impressed with Hossack’s knowledge and love for the game and when he found out that Hossack had been involved with the Predators learning media relations, McDonald saw an opportunity to improve his team off the ice and an opportunity for Hossack to start a career.
“I reached out to Sam to see what benefits he could bring us with social media and what he presented to me was amazing. He knew how to get us exposure and he wanted to model it after a couple of OHL teams,” said the GM.
“I told Sam that this could be a great resume builder for his future and Sam decided to take it on and we haven’t looked back since,” said McDonald.
McDonald says Hossack has done a tremendous job with the team, and continues to impress the local hockey community.
“Sam learns something every day, but Sam also teaches me something every day. He’s one of these guys that has his finger on what’s happening socially,” he said.
McDonald sees a bright future for Hossack working in the game of hockey.
“I don’t see Sam doing anything else to be honest with you. Sam wakes up every day to be involved with the hockey world, whether it’s with the high school team or our team. Sam’s entire life revolves around hockey,” McDonald said.
The future in hockey is bright for Hossack, however, he recently stepped away from his role with the Terriers. But he remains committed to grass-roots hockey.
He follows the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) avidly and is a writer for the OHL Network and also hosts a weekly OHL Network podcast.
In addition, he's recently taken a role with the Central Ontario Wolves midget AAA team - a squad based in Port Perry.
All the work Hossack does is strictly volunteer work and he doesn’t get paid. But the experience, he says, is invaluable.
“As much as I would love to get paid for everything I do and all the hard work, it’s more about being able to give back to the community,” said Hossack of the area's tight-knit hockey community.
Hossack has been embraced by that community - especially recently.
On Oct. 21 at the Memorial Avenue and Highway 12 intersection, Hossack was involved in a car accident that he was lucky to walk away from with just neck and back pain.
Almost immediately, Hossack received support from players, coaching staff and even fans who recognized him from around the rink.
“The support I received was unbelievable. A lot of people I can call close friends now reached out to me, my teammates in Orillia were calling and texting me making sure I was okay, and I want to thank everyone who has reached out to me,” he said.
“The hockey community is always there to support everybody within it, and it’s great to see everyone get behind each other when stuff like this happens.”