With the first puck just months from dropping at the 2010 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, changes abound at McIntrye Community Centre, which will be the central site for the tournament and host the nationally-televised gold medal game on January 4.
As the city’s main arena, The Mac is usually the first in the city to get ice – but not this year. In preparation for the U17s, the building has undergone extensive renovations over the past few years, which wrapped up late this summer.
Changes to The Mac include:
All of these renovations will enhance the experience of playing, and watching, a game at The Mac, which has housed a number of notable players and events in its 71-year existence.
Constructed in the late 1930s as a scale model of Maple Leaf Gardens, the building officially opened on with a Blue-White game as part of the Toronto Maple Leafs training camp, a first glimpse for many northern Ontarians at the mighty Leafs.
The first all-coloured line in hockey history, the Black Aces, made up of brothers Herb and Ozzie Carnegie and Manny McIntyre, took the ice at The Mac with the Quebec Aces in the 1940s, and the Harlem Globetrotters thrilled fans many years later.
In 2000, the world came to Timmins when The Mac hosted the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge for the first time. Future NHL stars like Ilya Kovalchuk, Derek Roy and Ryan Whitney thrilled fans, giving them a taste of the future of hockey.
Today, the building is home to the Midget AAA Timmins Majors and Bantam AAA Timmins Eagles, organizations that will play a vital role in the success of the 2010 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.
While there is negativity that exists around the old barn, why not embrace the history? While it was building as an homage to Maple Leaf Gardens, the grand old building on the corner of Church and Carleton sits without a tenant while the renovations of The Mac give it new life.
The faces enshrined on the wall of the coffee shop, of those who once skated on The Mac’s ice, reads like a who’s who of northern Ontario hockey – Frank and Peter Mahovlich, Allan Stanley, Bep Guidolin, Les Costello, Shean Donovan, Steve Sullivan, all of them took a turn in the NHL, while former Olympic and World Champion figure skater Barbara Ann Scott trained at The Mac.
While the goal is to look forward, to look at the future of hockey that will be on display this December and January, it is important to look back as well, at those who helped get The Mac where it is today.