Hockey in Grande Prairie started with a game against Lake Saskatoon just north of Wembley in 1914. The city’s more than 100 year love of the game was celebrated this weekend as the Hometown Hockey Tour rolled into town. Host Ron MacLean believes the sport is one of the things that binds all Canadians together.
“And it’s a reflection of our long, harsh winters. The other thing I’ve always said is it’s a great game; the fact that you need to use your feet and your hands, plus you need creativity and vision. It’s a great sport and it happens to be one where you can fill your lungs with winter fresh air and that makes it unique.”
Over two days, local NHL alumni like Clint Malarchuk and Chris Osgood were featured, and former players Georges Laraque and Marty McSorely were both in town to sign autographs. MacLean adds it’s a bonus to get to meet people from around Canada who are all “rink rats at heart.”
“Really, we’re all the same, right? We love the game; we are proud of wherever we are from. It’s just been a really nice connection. Naturally, when you work for Hockey Night in Canada for 31 years you become sort of family or a friend to a lot of people inadvertently and so it’s really great when we get a chance to meet in the flesh.”
Grande Prairie hockey fans braved temperatures as low as minus 30 with the windchill to take part in two days full of hockey-themed activities at Revolution Place, which wrapped up with the live broadcast of a Montreal Canadiens and Chicago Blackhawks game.