Frigid temperatures and last minute holiday shopping weren’t enough to keep fans from showing their support for Team Canada at a pep rally at TCU Place in Saskatoon on Thursday. With painted faces and flags waving, they cheered on the team with chants of ‘EH! O’ CANADA GO!” as the players were announced to the public for the first time in the city.
Allison Sherdahl, co-director of special events communications for the tournament, said, “It was a typical Saskatchewan event and show of pride. Just to see how many painted faces, Team Canada jerseys and excited kids there were was great."
Mike Tornopolski of Saskatoon showed up in true Canadian fashion waving the flag on a hockey stick. "It's an amazing experience to go away for the juniors but it's even better at home. You can just feel the hype and the emotion of the whole city," he said.
To kick things off five local cheerleading teams helped fire up the fans in attendance.
The real highlight though was when Team Canada was announced, and not surprisingly the team’s three Saskatchewan born players, Jordan Eberle, Jared Cowen and Brayden Schenn received the loudest reception.
Schenn, a native of Saskatoon and member of the WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings thanked the crowd for coming out and talked about how special it is to play in Saskatoon.
“It’s an honour just to throw on the Canadian jersey and to do it in my hometown it’s even better,” he said.
The event was truly a family affair as fans of all ages were in attendance. Among the fans was Bob Woytowich of Saskatoon and his nine-year-old son Michael.
“It's really special for my son, he's just the right age to start getting into it and it's like a dream for him to see these guys,” said Woytowich, while son Michael predicted a gold medal for the Canadian team.
Charles Mullner from Prince Albert, Sask., is in Saskatoon for the tournament with his wife and two kids, six-year-old Kiana, and three-year-old Carter said.
“It's about developing a tradition with my kids and passing on a love of hockey; we had a blast,” said Mullner.
With the tournament officially kicking off on Boxing Day, it’s obvious that the fans are ready to cheer on the team. GO CANADA GO!