01/23/2015, 3:00pm CST By Al Buczkowski
Built on a gold rush and reborn after another big gold discovery in 2005, Kirkland Lake has experienced its fair share of ups and downs. The same could be said for fans of junior hockey in this northern Ontario town of 10,000.
It looked like the game had gone bust there after the owner of the Junior A Blue Devils decided to fold the struggling club in January of 2012. But fortunes reversed almost immediately for hockey fans when a new ownership group purchased the team at midseason, renamed them the Gold Miners, and quickly oversaw a Copeland-McNamara Cup victory as NOJHL (Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League League) champs in 2014.
Just like that, it was a junior hockey boom in this small town with a big appetite for the game.
“People are serious about this team,” says Gold Miners Promotions and Marketing Director Barry Ferguson. “We’re not a big city…so people take ownership, they take pride, they want to know everything about the club.”
The team is helping feed that hunger for all things Gold Miners with what Ferguson calls their “3-headed monster” of Facebook, Twitter and a Sitebuilder team page rich with game photos and video highlights.
Gold Miners Game Photo Gallery
“We don’t have a single local player on the roster,” says Ferguson, comparing Kirkland Lake’s collection of imports to NOJHL teams in larger cities like Sault Ste. Marie, where homegrown talent accounts for more than half the roster. “So all the photos and videos, along with the social media, are a great way for the community to get to know these guys on the club…and for the players, who are from all across the map, it’s a great way for their network of families and friends to connect.”
Gold Miners Game Photo
The professional quality images (courtesy of a local newspaper photographer) found on the photo section of Kirkland Lake’s NOJHL team page put the club’s long distance followers right up against the glass, delivering the drama of the game from every angle, up close and personal.
“Our guy has his high-powered camera, cracking off hundreds of shots a game,” says Ferguson. “And most of the time, they’re up on the page the next morning.”
Gold Miners Game Video Gallery
The team’s video page also benefits from the same professional treatment.
“All our games are broadcast on FASTHockey (a live streaming service), so we have three or four cameras running during the course of the game,” says Ferguson. “Our guy uses that footage and cuts it up into highlight packages for us to post.”
As with the photo page, the team’s video highlights are well organized by game and season, making it easy for visitors to find what they’re looking for.
Together, Kirkland Lake’s photo and video pages are helping build bonds with local fans while bridging the distance between the team and followers in far off places.
“They’ve [photo and video pages] really proven to be some of the most popular features of our site,” says Ferguson. “A great opportunity for us to share the talent and personality of this club with our fans.”