By Mo Cranker on March 6, 2017.
It was a very busy weekend in the Hat, with multiple events and fundraisers running all weekend, but none was bigger than the Rogers Hometown Hockey stop downtown.
The festival of events took up a large portion of the roads downtown near city hall and Finlay Bridge — boasting more than a dozen free events for people of all ages to take part in.
Some of the biggest hits from the event were the autograph signing sessions with Tigers alumni Lanny McDonald and Rob Niedermayer, hardest and most accurate shot competitions, three-on-three road hockey and many other games and photo opportunities for all involved.
Hatters Ian and Ashley Heinl were at Saturday’s festivities with their two sons, who are two and three years old. Ian said he was thrilled to be at the Hometown Hockey event, because he would have never experienced something like it as a child.
“The event has been fantastic so far,” he said. “I never had something like this when I was a kid, so it’s nice to give our kids a chance to come out and get involved in hockey.”
With both of their children having skating experiences, Ashley says the couple wanted to continue to expose their children to Canada’s game.
“To me, hockey is Canada,” she said. “We wanted to come out here and introduce it even more to our boys and it’s just been a great community event.”
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Hatter Kelvin Anhorn was in attendance Saturday with five-year-old grandson Brody Aberle, and Anhorn says from what he saw, it looked like a great event for everyone.
“It’s been great so far, we’re having a lot of fun,” he said. “There really is so much going on and it looks like there’s a lot of kids here having a lot of fun.”
Aberle just started playing hockey, and said he was excited for the event.
“I’m having a lot of fun, and I really like hockey,” said Aberle.
Former Tiger Lanny McDonald was stationed in the Scotiabank tent for the two-day event, signing hundreds of autographs for fans. He said he was happy to be back in the Hat, and to be a part of the Hometown Hockey events.
“People are just celebrating the game,” said McDonald. “To do Rogers Hometown Hockey like this is fabulous, especially in a community like this where hockey is such a rich tradition.”
McDonald said he was very happy to see the celebration of hockey, and other sports over the course of the weekend.
“To be able to see all of the kids — there’s a big ringette tournament going on here as well, so it’s not only hockey,” he said. “The sport is growing in leaps and bounds and to be able to be back where it all started, it’s so much fun.”
Mayor Ted Clugston was on hand at the event, and received a Hometown Hockey jacket from co-host Tara Slone, which they gave to the city. He says he is very happy with how the event turned out.
“It’s been really great,” he said. “It’s so nice to have some of the alumni back — it’s great for the young kids who want to be NHL players to experience all of these things, and I’m really happy with the event.”
With files from Ryan McCracken.
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