Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett said it best: “Nothing brings a community together more than hockey.”
After the summer’s wildfires forced Cariboo residents apart for a time, Williams Lake’s togetherness couldn’t have been more on display during the weekend when it played host to the Rogers Hometown Hockey Tour.
“It means everything [to have this here],” Barnett said. “Tragedy brings you together.
“It was just wonderful to see all the children having so much fun, and the energy that Rogers has put into making this into an event for children who are hockey fans is just amazing.
“We have to thank the City of Williams Lake, and the crew has just done a fantastic job.”
Starting Friday morning with a pep rally in the Gibraltar Room and wrapping up Sunday evening with an outdoor viewing in downtown Williams Lake of the Montreal Canadiens and the Vancouver Canucks’ game, the weekend was filled to the brim with hockey-themed activities, events and entertainment for hockey fans of all ages.
Rogers Hometown Hockey Williams Lake co-ordinator Deb Radolla said Sunday things couldn’t have gone better.
“The Rogers folks have been amazing to work with,” Radolla said. “We’re just thrilled everything came together so very well, and the local organizing committee just worked really well together.
“We had countless volunteers throughout the weekend that really made this a pleasurable event.”
At Sunday’s outdoor viewing party, hosts Ron MacLean and Tara Slone broadcast the Canucks and Canadiens’ pre-game show live from downtown Williams Lake alongside the likes of Vancouver Canucks alumni Kirk McLean and Jyrki Lumme.
Before puck drop, a Parade of Champions featuring Williams Lake Minor Hockey players and several features highlighting the Cariboo were broadcast focusing on the Williams Lake Fire Department and its efforts during the summer’s wildfires, the vast history of the Williams Lake Stampeders, Rusty Patenaude and the story of the 153 Mile Store and, of course, Anahim Lake’s own Carey Price, which drew a massive ovation from the audience in attendance.
“It’s just been a real pleasure,” Slone said to the large crowd gathered to watch the game. “I just can’t say how great it’s been. All the smiles here, how friendly everyone’s been — it’s just been a really amazing weekend.”
The Rogers Hometown Hockey Tour, now in its fourth season, visits 24 cities across Canada in 26 weeks.