It’s always a thrill for a young hockey player to lace’em up and hit the ice in an NHL arena. The World Hockey Tour stop in Calgary was no exception. So much so that there was a lineup of players and parents out the door for registration at the Scotiabank Saddledome close to an hour early. As soon as the 120 novice players checked in, they immediately pulled on their World Hockey Tour jersey representing one of the ten countries competing at the World Junior Championship and became eager to begin the festivities.
It was a tight squeeze at the Dome and space was limited as facility and team staff were preparing for the evening matchup between Team Canada and Finland. Crammed into two dressing rooms, the youngsters didn’t care. It was all smiles and part of the experience. Those smiles grew even bigger when the World Junior teams showed up and were warming up in the hallways right outside the World Hockey Tour participant’s dressing room. The kids watched in aw dreaming that could one day be them.
After the two hour ice time, and the 90 minute coaching seminar that featured presentations from Hockey Canada’s Corey McNabb and Chris Reynolds, most people stuck around for the pre-competition game between Canada and Finland. Canada won the game 3-1 capping off a great day for everybody and giving the young hockey players a day they wont soon forget!
Edmonton - December 17th, 2011
(By Jimmy Adams)
The sixth stop on the World Hockey Tour, the Terwillegar Community Recreation Centre was the first stop in a big city and at such a large venue. The Edmonton event saw a record amount of interest. From the day the registration opened for the Novice players, all the way to actual event itself.
With the venue being so big, there was so much foot traffic the Team Canada lockers had to be moved twice until a spot was finally figured out where it would be both safe and practical; there were so many kids jumping at the opportunity to get their photos taken, our photographer was swamped! He had never taken so many pictures in the World Hockey Tour!
As kids were getting registered and getting their jerseys, they would run around through the lobby to their friends, comparing their jerseys and teams.
"I’m Team Sweden!", "I’m Team Finland!"
There were no designated dressing rooms for the players, and it didn’t matter, they would have gotten dressed in the stands if they had to! Players from every which team and country found a corner in the dressings rooms, made new friends and headed out to the ice, having as much fun as they could for the next hour and 15 minutes. After which a special surprise was waiting for them. Timbits and ice cream bars!
After a few more pictures with the "I Was There" puck, the World Hockey Tour packed up the vans and prepared for the busy week of Pre-competition games ahead. We’ll see you at the the Saddledome when Team Canada takes on Team Finland!
Innisfail - December 13th, 2011
(By Melissa Blades)
The Innisfail Arena was the place to be on Tuesday night! The fifth stop of the World Hockey Tour, the kids showed up after school and were raring to go! Everyone showed up early to get their hockey pictures in the replica Team Canada lockers and write the team a “good luck” message on the Go Canada Go banner!
It didn’t seem to matter which of the 10 teams the kids were placed on, they were all excited to be a part of the action! All you could hear throughout the lobby was “I’m on Latvia, I’m on Sweden, I’m on Canada, what team are you on?” With all the kids mixed up on the 10 teams, new friendships were formed, and the players were all about the team spirit! The host committee also raffled off a Canada jersey, hoodie and hat to one lucky winner! While the kids hit the ice, the coaches hit the coach presentation by Wally Kozak.
With two hours of ice for the big event, kids all stayed on the ice and watched from the dividers when they weren’t playing. They didn’t miss a second of the action! Who won? Who knows!! All that we know is that everyone had a blast, and got to say “I Was there” at the World Hockey Tour! Everyone walked away with a slice of pizza, juice box and most importantly a big smile on their face!
Next stop… Saturday at 12:00 at the Terwillegar Community Rec Centre in Edmonton!
Thorhild - December 10th, 2011
(By Danielle Nystrom)
Today, Thorhild became the centre of attention in Alberta as kids from as far away as Slave Lake, Morinville and Jasper gravitated to the small town for the fourth stop on the World Hockey Tour, Presented by RBC Play Hockey. With a cozy lobby to work with, we made sure that every inch was covered with World Hockey Tour material, posters, banners, life size puck and hockey lockers; you name it, it was there.
With first puck drop hitting the ice at 11:00am sharp, the kids were ready to rock and roll. While intense battles ensued on the half ice surfaces and the buzzer set to 1 minute ensuring accurate line changes, the smiles could be seen from the stands and laughter heard from the lobby. Even PlaySMART Pete got into the action playing goal for a game and leading teams through some dynamic, and what could be called ‘unique,’ pre-game warm-ups!
If you followed Pete from the on ice to off ice action, you would likely find him upstairs dropping all of his hard earned pennies on the opportunity to win some neat prizes. But this wasn’t your typical raffle prize draw, this was a buy your paper, build an airplane and fly it towards the prize of your choice, closest at the end being the winner of course! Right next to the paper airplanes you could find a handful of players creating their own mini country flags to be used for the simultaneous opening and closing ceremonies held towards the end of the day.
In between games, airplane flying, flag making and photo taking, kids took chairs in the lobby to power down on some chicken nuggets and power up on the powerade from the Agriplex canteen, which I might add makes a delightful grilled cheese sandwich!
With every Tour stop we make, each town brings their own unique flavor to the event, Thorhild was no different. Another one down and 8 more to go, Tuesday night brings us down Highway 2 to Innisfail!
Cold Lake - December 9th, 2011
(By Danielle Nystrom)
When I asked a nice gentleman at the "Timmy’s" this morning where JJ Parr Arena was he responded with "that’s easy, turn at the airplanes and you’ll find it down on your left hand side, can’t miss it, parking lot’s always full!" and he was right, nestled in the middle of the 4 Wing Canadian Air Force based was the JJ Parr Arena and Recreation Centre. A hub of activity when we arrived, there was no shortage of available and willing help on hand to assist with the unloading.
To be honest, it may have been the quickest setup yet, especially considering all the heavy items that went upstairs framing a grand entrance to the arena!
That wasn’t the only grandiose venture of the evening, they started the World Hockey Tour on-ice festivities with opening ceremonies, bringing out all teams representing the 10 countries onto the ice and these kids were fired up and ready to play. While chanting their country’s name, and banging sticks on the ice, excitement was in the air and they were ready to begin. With a few dignitaries present including the Base Captain, Mayor and a couple RCMP members in traditional Red Serge, it was a great way to kick off the event.
Following the singing of the national anthem, the first 2 games got underway while the other 6 teams made their way across the hallway and hopped onto the second sheet off ice to participate in some fun skills sessions.
While the on ice activities continued through the evening, the Junior B team, the Cold Lake Ice took over the arena lobby, greeting fans young and old, autographing some photos and other memorabilia. The team set up across from the replica lockers and giant puck (which I have now deemed as ’Worlds Largest’ as I think with every stop, it’s getting bigger, or at least more awkward to move) drew in the crowd and kept the photographers busy throughout the night.
Halfway through the night Team Alberta assistant coach and veteran volunteer, Serge Lajoie, led 25 local coaches through a coach clinic with a international flare.
Cold Lake was the third stop on the World Hockey Tour, but certainly made a first place impression. We’re looking forward to what Thorhild has in store for us tomorrow!
Falher - December 6th, 2011
(By Danielle Nystrom)
For this born and raised city girl, every trip to small town Alberta brings a new sense of intrigue and excitement, and this was no different in the small town of Falher, Alberta.
The second stop on our World Hockey Tour the town in North West Alberta, home to just over 940 people is a town big on the game of hockey and it showed. Reaching out to surrounding communities, including Grande Prairie, Slave Lake and Valleyview; Falher hosted the World Hockey Tour bringing together over 115 players for the evening’s event.
With the concession at full bore (home to a delightful popcorn chicken!), dressing rooms full, and the local kids milling around, you were sure to bump into some from the area on-site.
Falling second in line on the tour to Stettler; Falher had some big shoes to fill and they sure did fill them! With some nifty raffle items, including over $300 in gift cards, I was first in line to throw down a $20 bill!
For all of the ice sesaons the coaches strapped on their blades and got the kids going with the short 15 minute no stoppage, no whistle games. There was no shortage of action on the ice keeping the coaches busy and smiles on the faces of the kids.
Off the ice, we saw over 100 people get their photo taken in the replica Team Canada lockers, even players from rival, Sweden, Latvia and Canada could be seen getting their photo together!
On top of what was a great run event, it seemed fitting that Falher was able to have not only Hockey Alberta’s PlaySmart Pete on hand, but also two other mascots roaming around the building.
For this small hockey community I hope we were able to leave them with a yearning for the World Junior Action as they certainly did us proud!
Off to Cold Lake!
Stettler - December 3rd, 2011
(Edited by Jimmy Adams)
Hockey Alberta’s World Hockey Tour, Presented by RBC Play Hockey, made its first stop this weekend in Stettler, Alberta.
The event was a big hit in the town of Stettler. The children who took part in the 4-on-4 tournament really bought into the idea that they were representing a country. Team Denmark would walk out onto the ice chanting "Denmark, Denmark, Denmark!"
The coach clinic was very well received with about 20 coaches listening in as Hockey Alberta’s High Performance Coach Mentor, Barry Medori spoke about what some of the world’s leading national hockey organizations are doing to develop the skill of young players.
The World Hockey Tour also allowed children to write messages to Canada’s World Junior team. The local Junior B team, the Stettler Lightning also got involved by helping run on-ice sessions to children that hadn’t had the opportunity to really try hockey before. There even was a four year old that skated for the first time!
The Tour is now Northwest bound to the town of Falher.