A who’s-who of Canadian hockey is in Vancouver, B.C., early this week for the 2014 Hockey Canada Foundation Celebrity Classic, recognizing the very best in the game, both past and present.
Members of Canada’s Men’s Olympic Team, Canada’s Women’s Olympic Team and Canada’s National Women’s Under-18 Team will be on hand to receive their championship rings, celebrating their victories on the international stage during the 2013-14 season.
In addition, a trio of Canadian hockey legends – Clare Drake, France St-Louis and Steve Yzerman – will be officially invested into the Order of Hockey in Canada during a Monday afternoon ceremony.
The centrepiece of the two-day event is the gala dinner, which will take place Monday night at Rogers Arena, home of the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks.
On Tuesday, Northview Golf and Country Club in nearby Surrey will host the celebrity golf tournament.
The Celebrity Classic is the largest fundraiser for the Hockey Canada Foundation, which works closely with Hockey Canada to raise money to support minor hockey programs. The foundation focuses on three areas of funding: accessibility, diversity, health and wellness; skill development; and hockey heritage.
Funds raised from the 2014 gala and golf tournament will go to Hockey Canada Foundation initiatives that support accessibility to the game, from grassroots hockey to Olympics teams, as well as to legacy programming in the Vancouver area, similar to what has been done in past host cities.
“This is such a great event for us, not only because we get to recognize Canada’s gold medallists,” said Chris Bright, executive director of the Hockey Canada Foundation, “but because we get to give back to the game.”
Working with the Canucks for Kids Fund, legacy funding from the 2014 event will benefit KidSport B.C., Athletics for Kids, and the Boys and Girls Clubs of South Coast B.C., ultimately creating greater opportunities for underprivileged kids in Vancouver and across British Columbia to enjoy the game of hockey.
OLYMPIC AND WORLD CHAMPIONS
Canada’s Men’s Olympic Team turned in one of the most dominating performances in Olympic history to win the country’s second consecutive men’s hockey gold medal, and third in four tries. The Canadians allowed just three goals in six games, and none in semifinal and gold medal game victories over the U.S. and Sweden.
Canada’s Women’s Olympic Team made it four straight gold medals with a comeback for the ages in the final, erasing a two-goal deficit in the final 3:26 and winning gold on Marie-Philip Poulin’s overtime goal. Poulin also had the tying goal in the final minute for her second straight two-goal performance in an Olympic final.
Canada’s National Women’s Under-18 Team claimed its third consecutive gold medal at the IIHF Ice Hockey U18 Women’s World Championship, needing an overtime goal to beat Russia 1-0 in the semifinals before routing the United States 5-1 in the gold medal game in Budapest, Hungary, for world title No. 4 overall.
ORDER OF HOCKEY IN CANADA DISTINGUISHED HONOUREES
Clare Drake is the most successful coach in Canadian university history, with 697 wins. He led the University of Alberta to six CIAU championships, while also serving as Canada’s National Men’s Team co-coach at the 1980 Olympic Winter Games, and guiding Canada to its first championship at the 1984 Spengler Cup.
France St-Louis won five gold medals at the IIHF World Women’s Championship, captaining the team in 1992 and 1994; claimed a silver medal at the 1998 Olympic Winter Games in Nagano, Japan, and most recently was assistant chef de mission for the Canadian Olympic Team at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi.
Steve Yzerman won three Stanley Cups during a 22-year NHL career with the Detroit Red Wings, and helped Canada end its 50-year Olympic gold medal drought in 2002. He was executive director of Canada’s Men’s Olympic Team in 2010 and 2014, selecting the teams that won back-to-back Olympic gold medals.
To find out more about this year’s Distinguished Honourees of the Order of Hockey in Canada, CLICK HERE.
It’s the first time the Hockey Canada Foundation Celebrity Classic has been held in Vancouver. In its first 10 years, the event made stops in Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto.