The Elmira Arena was packed last weekend with a cheering army of hockey supporters garbed in red, white and blue and armed with noisemakers to show their Hockeyville spirit to the CBC cameras and crew.
“I think it was wonderful. I think it was just a really great community event,” said organizer Graham Snyder. “All shapes and sizes, young and old were at the rink on Friday and Saturday, and they really seemed to be enthusiastic and enjoying the festivities.”
Things kicked off with a high-energy pep rally at Park Manor Public School Feb. 13. A second rally at Elmira District Secondary School raised the excitement to a fever pitch.
“It’s as loud in here as the ACC after an overtime goal,” former NHL player Steve Thomas told the enthusiastic crowd at EDSS.
Thomas and former national women’s team player Cassie Campbell-Pascall were whisked from event to event, with Campbell-Pascall getting pulled into a floor hockey game and giving sledge hockey a try. That experiment demonstrated to the rest of the crowd just how much strength and balance sledge hockey requires.
“I will not make any excuses; however, I will say I was given a high-performance sled, which is impossible for an amateur,” Campbell-Pascall said Saturday, during a quiet moment at the arena. “I decide to stop embarrassing myself and just ref the game.”
Campbell-Pascall works for Hockey Night in Canada, commenting during games in Montreal and Ottawa. She called the preseason games that were held in the last two Hockeyville winners, but this is her first time doing the tour.
“It’s been really fun, just getting to meet different people and learning a little bit more about Canada. Not that I didn’t know they were passionate about hockey, but sometimes when you go to these small centres it’s hammered into your head just how passionate Canadians are about the game.”
They’ve also had the chance to learn a little more about the culture of each area. In Newfoundland they were “Screeched in,” and in British Columbia, she and the producer danced with a native group, the Killer Whale Clan. In Woolwich, she got to film a segment from a buggy and tour a Mennonite farm.
Campbell-Pascall was impressed with the community spirit in Woolwich and the team effort behind the Hockeyville entry. See her blog
“I arrived late Thursday night, about 9:30, and I could see the decorations in the dark, the jerseys on the front porches and the hockey sticks sticking out of the snowbank and the Kraft Hockeyville colours of red white and blue – that was evident in the dark.”
Doing the Hockeyville tour also gives Campbell-Pascall a chance to get back on the ice. She helps coach a girls’ team in Calgary, but the only time she’s played hockey in the past year was a shinny game during CBC’s Hockey Day in Canada.
Despite the whirlwind weekend schedule, there was also time for a little relaxation.
“We went down to the Central Tavern last night, that was fun. There was a live band and everyone kind of knew everybody and it was sort of like Cheers.”