Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Hockeyville Hoopla

Monday night's Hockeyville celebration provided Terrace with it's moment in the spotlight, with national and continental exposure courtesy of the NHL Network and a New York based cable outlet, which like Sportsnet Pacific provided a broadcast of the exhibition game between the Canucks and the Islanders.

And while the Canucks roster was rather reduced of those recognizable names, that didn't seem to matter too much to the 1,000 plus fans gathered in the Terrace Sportsplex or the thousand or so watching the game outdoors on a huge television screen set up in Terrace's George Little Park.

The day started with the arrival of the Canucks and Islanders (and some fellow named Campbell) who were treated like rock stars (well maybe not so for Premier Campbell) as they descended from their planes and began the bus ride into town, a caravan of fans following along honking horns and waving flags.

From there the autograph gauntlets began, with players like Willie Mitchell and Kevin Bieksa the most popular (and perhaps most familiar of faces) Canuck targets for autograph hounds. No doubt there was some disappointment that the more familiar names of Canuck's lore, Luongo or the Sedin's to name a few weren't in attendance.

And perhaps that was a stumble by the Canucks, while it's not likely expected that they would be in the line up, (after all exhibition hockey is more about looking at those that might make the team as opposed to those that already have) having them there to sign autographs and share some time with the fans could have been made what was already a great success even that much more special.

The Hockeyville experience is built up over the year as the great celebration of the roots of the game, the Canucks being the home squad and clearly the fans favourites could have solidified that bond even more had they sent more of the players that regularly make for conversation points among Canuck fans.

As it is, we imagine that if there is a spike in the sale of those Canuck sweaters with Mitchell and Bieksa names on the back, (there might be one or two Orange and Blue Islanders jerseys with a Tambellini on the back making the rounds too) it will be thanks to their dedication to their assigned tasks, giving back to the fans as they did and basking in the hero worship that comes from fans to athletes.

During the day various players from both teams would spend time with the youngsters of Terrace, whether at school visits or just hanging over the boards at the rink while the warm ups took place. The two teams would run through some practice drills as well at the rink, providing some awe for the local youth hockey teams in attendance, many no doubt marvelling at the speed of the players on the ice and the power of their shots reverberating around the rink.

As the afternoon turned into early evening, it was on to the Sportsplex for game time and the live broadcasts, with Sportsnet providing very much the same kind of broadcast you might expect from any NHL rink though in this case, a much smaller version with a number of limitations for camera angles.

The opening ceremonies, the passing of the trophy and the ceremonial puck drop began the formal part of the night, with Terrace's organizers Bob Park (Big Bob as he's known in the Northwest) and Carol Fielding taking their moment to salute the audience which made the night a succes.

The anthems were performed with enthusiasm by a young lady from Terrace, who showed little in the way of nerves as she opened up the proceedings with only the smallest of stumbles, a rather impressive showing for what most likely was her largest audience at such a young age.

As for the game, for the first match of the pre season for either team the play wasn't too bad, sloppy at times, but still full of speed, lots of hits, much in the way of material for the next Don Cherry Rock em Sock em and a few goals, with the Canucks winning a squeaker 2-1.

As a nice gesture, at the end of the game the players handed off sweaters and sticks to some of the crowd and gathered at centre ice to salute the fans. The Islanders apparently making more than a few friends among the crowd with a donation of a number of sets of hockey equipment to the local hockey association.

The Hockeyville experience is one that certainly brings together communities, all in the spirit of the game. Terrace showed how that hard work can pay off, and Monday celebrated all of which they achieved, raising the bar for other communities as the process begins anew for Hockeyville 2010...

You can relive those Hockeyville memories this Saturday at 7pm , when the CBC presents a one hour special hosted by Ron McLean and Cassie Campbell.

For now, there's no shortage of reviews of the celebrations. Some of which you can find links for below.

CFTK News-- Terrace Is the Centre of the Hockey World
Terrace Online Daily-- A number of articles posted to their website
Terrace Standard-- Young Russian thrills crowd
Terrace Standard-- Mitchell and Tambellini visit their smallest fans
Terrace Standard-- Mitchell warms-up before the big Hockeyville game
Terrace Standard-- Our Hockeyville story
Vancouver Province-- 'Hockeyville' Canucks fans in Terrace warm Willie Mitchell's heart
Vancouver Province-- Shirokov shines as Canucks take Islanders 2-1 in Terrace
Vancouver Province-- McIntyre's notes from Terrace
Vancouver Province-- Terrace: small B.C. community with big hockey heart
Vancouver Sun-- Canucks a hit in Hockeyville, edge Islanders 2-1
Vancouver Sun-- No stars shining in Terrace for Canucks-Islanders game
Vancouver Sun-- Hockeyville is ready for the Canucks
Vancouver Sun-- Willie Mitchell, Canucks get northern exposure in first NHL pre-season game
Long Island Newsday-- Gordon's thoughts on preseason opener
New York Post-- Canucks edge Islanders, 2-1 Hockeyville game wows Terrace community Buzz in the air as Hockeyville takes to the ice
CBC Sports-- Canucks top Islanders 2-1 in Terrace, BC
The Hockey News-- Terrace, B.C. displays why it won label of Hockeyville 2009
Cross posted from my blog A Town Called Podunk

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