SYDNEY, N.S. -- At a time when many Cape Breton area businesses are struggling due to the pandemic, opposing youth hockey teams have come together to take teamwork off the ice to a whole new level.

In typical times, youth hockey teams would be thankful for the support of local businesses in helping their fundraising initiatives. But these times are anything but typical.

“Businesses have lost business, so we can’t rely on them to sponsor kids. So we had to come up with a way that we could help the kids ourselves,” says David Jamael, president of Sydney Minor Hockey Association.

Eight minor hockey groups in Cape Breton have come together to organize a 50/50 draw, aimed at helping young players with the cost of playing the game, while also helping out some of the local businesses who typically sponsor them, but are now struggling due to the pandemic.

“They’re the name on your team- Dairy Queen’s on our shoulders, the Cape Breton Lynx, Burger King is on their pants. It’s really important to the community for our sponsors and everything, so we want to make sure we can do everything we can to help them too,” says Christina Lamey, president of the Cape Breton Blizzard Hockey Association.

The idea was to come together in big numbers, to create the largest pots and proceeds possible.

Also on board is the rink in Membertou, which is home to all but one of the participating teams.

“Just the sheer amount of players that are able to sell tickets, we’re well over a thousand players which is huge, and it’s a community effort, everybody kind of got together to form this draw,” explains Paul Carroll, general manager of the Membertou Sport and Wellness Centre.

As for how large the jackpot might get, nobody was willing to throw a number out there, but the general feeling is there’s the potential for some big winnings.

“I think what you’ll see with this draw, is that it will grow throughout the season, so we’re looking forward to having our first one and keep building,” says Lamey.

During a year when it’s tough just for kids to be able to take to the ice, the ticket draw is aimed at being a win-win situation for all involved.

“If we can take some of the burden off businesses supporting kids, and still let the kids be able to afford to play hockey, that’s really the goal of what we’re trying to do,” says Jamael.

“They’re all in it together and everybody’s going to benefit together,” adds Carroll.

Cape Breton isn’t a stranger to large 50/50 draws, as the Glace Bay Minor Hockey even split is a popular annual draw with a final jackpot that typically exceeds $100,000.

Tickets are available now, with the first draw set for next Sunday, October 4.