Scrape the rust off your skate blades, dust off that hockey stick sitting in the basement and head out to the Elmira Arena Jan. 17 for a marathon day of hockey.
In anticipation of making the top-10 list in CBC’s Kraft Hockeyville contest, organizers of the local bid set next Saturday as Woolwich Hockeyville marathon hockey day, with on-ice action for a full 24 hours.
Players of all age groups and all skill levels will play throughout the day, indicative of the community’s support for the game. The mix will include Mennonite teams – for the Mennonite hour (12:30-1:30 p.m.), organizers are looking to see just how many players of the various Mennonite groups they can get out on the ice. That hour will be followed by the Martin hour: in order to play, you’ve got to be named Martin – not a tall stretch in this area, noted Graham Snyder, part of the group behind the Hockeyville application.
“We shouldn’t have any problem filling the teams. And it should be really easy for whoever’s commenting on the game: Martin passes to Martin … and Martin scores,” he laughed.
“In the Martin hour, every sweater will have a ‘Martin’ on it,” added fellow organizer Del Gingrich, who’s working to get a strong Mennonite contingent out for the event.
From the very young to old-timers, from complete novices to Sugar Kings alumni, everyone is encouraged to come out to show community spirit and support for the Hockeyville contest bid.
The top-10 list of the 195 entries is to be announced Jan. 14. If Woolwich is included, the marathon event will help get the word out and generate enthusiasm for the voting part of the contest, said Snyder, confident it’s a matter of “when” not “if.”
“We have to be prepared, when we’re named to the top 10, to hit the ground running.
“We want people to know they can get involved,” he added of the voting process, to be in place by Monday.
The contest is part of the Kraft Hockeyville reality show that appears on CBC television. The town or city that is named Hockeyville will have an NHL preseason game played in their community, a CBC Hockey Night in Canada broadcast from the game, and $100,000 to upgrade their home arena.
Now its fourth year, the Hockeyville title has previously gone to Salmon River, N.S., North Bay, Ont. and Roberval, Que.
Events on Jan. 17 kick off at 7 a.m., as a group of “Local Legends” take to the ice. At 9 a.m., a procession is planned from the Woolwich municipal building to the Elmira Arena – everyone is encouraged to show up with a hockey stick in hand, dressed in appropriate hockey mode. The official opening ceremonies go at 10 a.m.
After a Minis game, what’s being billed as the “largest minor hockey family in Canada” will be on the ice at 11:30 a.m. The group includes Elmira’s Wang family, with its eight kids, and other large families in the area, Snyder explained.
There’s no charge to participate in any of the day’s events. It’s also free to come out to watch, though they’re accepting donations for the Friends of Hockey, an organization that helps ensure minor hockey is accessible to all.
Local service clubs will be taking part to make sure there’s food available throughout the 24-hour period upstairs at the arena.
“We want lots of people there,” said Snyder. “It’s a great day out for the fun of the game.”
Players and teams looking to take part in the marathon are asked to contact Val Martin at 669-2789. Organizing the Mennonite squads, Del Gingrich is at 669-1138. Graham Snyder, looking after the seniors’ hockey and the learn-to-play segment (the 5 a.m. time slot), can be reached at 669-1407.
Information about the Woolwich Hockeyville effort can be found online at www.woolwichhockeyville.ca. The official Hockeyville entry can be seen at www.cbc.ca/sports/hockey/hockeyville/communities/DanSnyderMemorialArena.html.