The gymnasium at Robert Bateman Public School was rockin’ to The Hockey Song on the morning of Thursday, March 28, as 300 school children, and their teachers, danced and sang along to the infamous tune heard in rinks everywhere.
The south Ottawa school hosted a press conference to promote the 2013 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship, coming to the nation’s capital April 2-9, and it was a lively affair indeed.
Along with the music, the children cheered loudly for each of the speakers as they shared news and insight about the female game, and the upcoming event that will feature the best women’s players from around the globe.
Helping with the cheers were three very special guests: Ottawa Senators mascot Spartacat, Ontario Women’s Hockey Association mascot PAWSitive and Hockey Canada mascot Puckster. On arrival, they danced, waved, high-fived and hugged the children. On cue, they revved up the young crowd as no one else could.
The press conference also featured a display of hockey prowess by well-known politicians and school leaders, as they took part in a ball hockey shootout against the very first goaltender of Canada’s National Women’s Team, Cathy Phillips of Burlington, Ont., who won a gold medal at the inaugural IIHF Women’s World Championship 23 years ago.
As part of the schools program for this year’s world championship, Robert Bateman Public School students will attend an April 5 game at the Nepean Sportsplex to cheer on their “adopted” teams. In the game between Germany and the Czech Republic at 12 p.m. ET, half the students will be cheering wildly for Germany, and the other half for the Czechs.
It will be one of the rare times when the students will actually be encouraged to “make some noise!” The players derive positive energy from a large, enthusiastic crowd of supporters. For this game, both teams will enjoy a sort of home ice advantage.
Introduced by school principal Jocelyn Fagan, City of Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson opened the morning’s festivities by welcoming the tournament to the nation’s capital. He spoke about its importance to the community, including an impressive $35 million economic boost.
Watson introduced an old friend, fellow Mayor Hazel McCallion of Mississauga, Ont., and presented her with a Hockey Canada sweater with No. 92 on the back, which happens to be the age of the seemingly ageless mayor, who has been on the job for the past 35 years. Mayor McCallion has long been a pioneer for the female game. She even played herself, starting in the 1920s!
McCallion talked about hockey being “Canada’s game,” and encouraged all girls and boys to give it a try, and benefit from all the positive values team sport has to offer. The 2013 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship is a chance to show the world the support and love we have for our game, she said.
Ontario Women’s Hockey Association president Fran Rider encouraged the children at Robert Bateman Public School to talk to their parents about coming out to catch the top female players in the world take to the ice at SBP Arena and the Nepean Sportsplex.
“We need lots of people in the stands to cheer,” she said. “It means a lot to the players.
Geoff Publow of the Ottawa Senators organization said that hockey players from all teams participating in this year’s world championship are looking forward to seeing large crowds, and told the kids to make sure they have fun while cheering for Germany or the Czech Republic off the ice Friday, April 5, and whenever they have the chance to play on the ice. Fun, after all, is what the game is all about.
At the end of the press conference, as the children filed their way back to class, the team mascots gave out special hugs and high-fives. The late Canadian musician Stompin’ Tom Connors would have been proud to see these young Canadians cheering for “the best game you can name.”