NHL pre-season set to begin in Terrace, B.C.
Terrace, B.C., is ready for its close-up, as it gets ready to play host to the NHL's first pre-season tilt on Monday, a clash between local favourite Vancouver Canucks and the John Tavares-touting New York Islanders.
In March, the town of 12,000 in the northern coastal area of British Columbia beat out more than 7,100 other communities across Canada competing for the 2009 Kraft Hockeyville honour. The annual CBC-sponsored contest earns a Canadian town the right to host an NHL pre-season game and $100,000 to upgrade its local arena.
The festivities began with a sold-out charity game on Saturday and included an appearance by several NHL alumni and the Stanley Cup itself on Sunday.
Thousands stood in line at George Little Park in downtown Terrace to get their picture taken with hockey's Holy Grail.
"I've talked to people who drove eight, nine, 10 hours from Yukon and elsewhere to come and be a part of this," said Steve Smyth, one of the local organizers.
Follow Kraft Hockeyville on the web
Joining the Cup were ex-Canucks Cliff Ronning and Dave Babych, as well as former Islanders Bryan Trottier and Ken Morrow.
"This is my first time being a part of Hockeyville, and I'm just overwhelmed," said Ronning, a Burnaby, B.C., native.
Dozens of fans waited at the local airport to greet Ronning, Babych and Hockey Night in Canada broadcasters Ron McLean and Cassie Campbell-Pascall on Saturday.
Campbell-Pascall oversaw a girls' hockey camp in Terrace on Sunday. She and McLean will be joined by Don Cherry and other CBC Sports personalities Monday to film a one-hour Hockeyville special to be broadcast on Sept. 19 (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 7 p.m. ET).
Terrace will welcome the Islanders and Canucks into its cozy 1,000-seat Sportsplex, and fans lucky enough to have their names selected in a draw will attend.
By virtue of winning the contest, the arena received a $100,000 upgrade, which Terrace used to insert new boards, glass, lighting, expand the players' benches and add some cosmetic work to bring it up to NHL standards.
Around 8,500 people participated in the draw for tickets to the game, and a quarter of those tickets went to local schools and minor hockey teams, as Smyth said the idea was to allow as many kids to attend as possible.
"I recommend people bring earplugs," said Terrace Mayor Dave Pernarowski. "It'll be 75 per cent filled with children, and kids tend to bring a whole other level of excitement."
Fans who aren't lucky enough to have their name drawn can watch the game live on a large screen in George Little Park.
With files from The Canadian Press