Welcome to our rink

By Jamie Harkins

March 15, 2017 2:45 PM

KRUSHED IT The Kitscoty Krushers gather for a Hometown Hockey photo with Toronto Maple Leafs alumni Darcy Tucker. JAMIE HARKINS LLS PHOTO

Rogers Hometown Hockey is a chilly, circus-like, drawn-out infomercial and I like it.
What a wonderful celebration of Canada’s official game. Yes lacrosse I know, but face the facts.
Oh sure, it was frighteningly cold on both days of the outdoor festival and the warm-up areas were non-existent in front of the main stage or the Sportsnet Mobile Studio for the Canadiens and Oilers broadcast, but the Rogers Fan Hub trailer with its copious amounts of free hot chocolate and the warm cheer of the many workers, youth hockey players and parents who strolled through the grounds provided a welcome relief.
It seemed as if everyone who headed down to 50 Avenue and 50 Street for Hometown Hockey braved the elements with ease and I hope they did come prepared layer-wise and ducked into a warm spot on every available occasion.
The NHL alumni such as Darcy Tucker, Rich Sutter and Kelly Buchberger who were on hand, the skill testing games for those still believing they can pick four corners on four attempts and the fun virtual photo opportunities were impressive, but what got me was the enthusiasm of the young hockey players in attendance.
I had the pleasure to meet the Kitscoty atom Krushers hockey team when I first stepped onto the festival grounds at its opening on Saturday afternoon. The girls were ahead of me while I waited in line for an interview with Tucker, who, by the way, is a lot nicer in person than the felon I watched decimate the Stanley Cup hopes of my Ottawa Senators back in the day.
Once the interview with the pest was over, I walked over to the Krushers and asked them a few questions about why they were first in line and the answer I received was they were at Rogers Hometown Hockey to compete as one of three finalists for the Lloydminster cheer contest. The girls then gathered in a semicircle and belted out their song in the middle of 49 Street in -25 C weather without a care in the world.
It was my first weekend as the sports editor of the Lloydminster Source and what a mint assignment the Rogers Hometown Hockey festival proved to be.
Of course, I was forced to work outdoors and my camera only lasted 45 minutes on the first day of activities before the battery died because of the cold. My pen also didn’t make it, so I settled with my phone that actually managed to last a full hour before an under-10 per cent warning popped up despite having charged it the night before.
The balmy -18 C weather on Sunday helped matters a bit as my camera lasted a good hour and the phone made it through unscathed, but the pen still bit the dust.
Still, the friendly people at the McDonald’s and Dr. Oetker’s trailers were always there with free coffee and pizza to keep the body warm and I wasn’t the only one partaking in the free servings.
The name of the game with Rogers Hometown Hockey, presented by Scotiabank and Dodge, like pretty much everything it seems, is product placement no matter what stories about local hockey heroes that are told on the 30-minute pre-game broadcast on Sunday afternoon.
However, the point of the event remains to tell the story of a local hockey team or player.
The Kitscoty atom Krushers didn’t win the cheer contest and it really doesn’t matter in the end. Their song warmed my heart on that chilly Saturday afternoon.
“Welcome to our rink. Kitscoty girls play here. We score goals and fans cheer. We live to play hockey. Welcome to our rink. We are the Krushers girls. Hometown Hockey is cool. 3, 2, 1, let’s go. Welcome to our rink. Yeah.”

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