Credit: Dan Marcinkowski | Strathmore Standard
The game that Canada loves was celebrated in towns, villages, and cities throughout Canada on Feb. 9 to commemorate Hockey Day in Canada.
Gleichen took part in Canada’s beloved game and celebrated this special day by hosting a pond hockey event called Hockey Day in GA, where several hundred kids were able to play shinny outside, or inside the rink at the Gleichen and District Arena and Curling Club.
It was extremely windy at some points of the day, but the children were excited to play hockey and the wind did not bother them.
“I had a lot of fun,” said 7-year-old Dayvin Foat from Strathmore. Foat comes out to Gleichen on the weekends whenever possible to play shinny on one of the rinks.
People were invited to come out and put on their skates and were able to play with a special guest.
Former NHL player Jason Strudwick played shinny on the outdoor rink alongside many of the children who took part. Strudwick played defense professionally for the New York Islanders, Vancouver Canucks, Chicago Blackhawks, New York Rangers and Edmonton Oilers.
Strudwick grew up playing hockey on the outdoor rinks. “All the skills I acquired were playing on the outdoor rinks and I love it,” said Strudwick.
All the kids along with Strudwick and the parents had smiles on their faces as the pond hockey was taking place. “Hockey is a great game to play and I think you can tell when I was out there playing and having fun. The kids should have fun too, it’s a fun game,” said Strudwick.
For many of the children, Strudwick is a guy they can look up to as someone who has worked hard and had success in his hockey life.
“I love kids and I love hockey, so anything I can do to combine the both is a great thing. I met a lot of great people and have 300 more friends today.”
Many of the kids were either Calgary Flames or Oilers fans. Wearing a Flames jersey, Foat was excited to play with Strudwick, but when he took a picture with the former NHLer, he took off his Flames gear. Foat already understands the rivalry between the two Alberta teams.
Kids and parents were able to buy treats and many free gifts were given out throughout the day, as people from all over Alberta took part in the festivities.
Cara Sheppard, President of Gleichen Minor Hockey Association organized the event, which has grown every year since its first year in 2009.
Strudwick currently hosts a radio show in Edmonton from 9 p.m. to midnight on the weekdays talking about Oilers hockey.