Lloydminster braves winter blast for Hometown Hockey

By Jamie Harkins

March 14, 2017 12:00 AM

TABLE HOCKEY Hockey fans, from left, Scarlett Code, Lanny Code and Berlyn Code, have some fun in the Playmobil Kids Zone. JAMIE HARKINS LLS PHOTO

Cold, wind and falling snow couldn’t keep fans of Canada’s favourite game from the Rogers Hometown Hockey tour stop in Lloydminster.
Hockey devotees streamed into the festival throughout the Saturday and Sunday activities that started with a concert by the Milk Fed Turkeys on the main stage at 50 Ave. and 50 St. and a meet-and-greet between Toronto Maple Leafs veteran Darcy Tucker and members of the Kitscoty Atom Krushers in the Scotiabank Community Locker Room.
“We’re excited,” said Krushers player Hailey Saam about having the opportunity to unveil the Rogers Hometown Hockey Lloydminster jersey shortly into the festival. “Scotiabank sponsored us because we’re awesome.”
Tucker, who was joined by NHL alumni Rich Sutter and Kelly Buchberger in the autograph tent during the weekend, said the strong support by local fans to the free outdoor hockey festival despite the less-than-ideal conditions doesn’t come as a surprise to him.
He said hockey is special to everyone in this country and having a chance to interact with the fans and listen to their minor hockey tales gives him a thrill.
“Lloydminster for me is close to my heart because being an Alberta boy these are the little communities that I grew up in and was raised in,” said Tucker, who played minor hockey down Hwy. 16 and 36 in Castor, Alta.
“Small towns and hockey across Canada is what makes it very special for all of us. The alumni feel very close to the local communities and we have a lot of fun doing it.”
The two-day festival provided plenty of free family-fun enjoyment including a flaming hockey stick juggler— the Great Paz—food and hot drinks, skill testing exhibits and games for the kids thanks to a Playmobil station.
Trevor Papp made the virtual photo with an NHL star display a stop for his squadron of Dominic, 6, Nathan, 7, Emilie, 9, and Damian, 11, on Sunday afternoon while the family took in everything Rogers Hometown Hockey had to offer.
“It’s just a great opportunity to get out and just take part in something we see (on TV) every week,” said Papp. “It’s something that we think is pretty special.”
Lloydminster Bobcats forward Kobe Walker and goaltender Austin McGrath got the chance to close out the festival by joining Rogers Hometown Hockey hosts Ron MacLean and Tara Slone in the Sportsnet Mobile Studio on 49 St. for an on-air segment of the Edmonton Oilers and Montreal Canadiens pre-game show late Sunday afternoon.
“Definitely some butterflies being on live TV, but once it got going it just melted away,” said McGrath.
“It was pretty good, a pretty natural conversation.”

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