It’s a story shared by many Team Canada alumni – a hockey passion sparked by childhood memories of spending hours on an outdoor rink during cold winter days, playing pickup until the sun went down and toes went numb.
So it makes perfect sense that the Hockey Canada Foundation partnered with the Ottawa Senators and the Sens Foundation to raise about $400,000 at the 8th annual HCF gala and golf tournament for the construction of a refrigerated outdoor community rink in Canada’s capital city. Work on the Rink of Dreams project, being built to inspire young hockey players, starts at the end of September. Organizers intend to open the rink to the public in time for the holiday season.
This year’s event, held June 27 at the Ottawa Convention Centre overlooking the picturesque Rideau Canal and prestigious Parliament Hill and June 28 at Marshes Golf Club and Eagle Creek Golf Course, also raised about $300,000 for the HCF Endowment Fund, in support of the foundation itself and various Hockey Canada programs, ranging from the country’s high performance teams to grassroots sport development.
The $700,000 total was a result of unique silent and live auctions, as well as tickets sold for tables at the gala dinner, which was hosted by event chairman Jim Durrell and emceed by TSN personality Gord Miller, while a hockey hot stove featured National Men’s Team alumnus Theo Fleury (Oxbow, Sask.), National Junior Team head coach Don Hay (Kamloops, B.C.), National Women’s Team veteran Jayna Hefford (Kingston, Ont.) and Canada’s National Sledge Team member Greg Westlake (Oakville, Ont.).
More than 14 coaches and 10 captains from the past 30 National Junior Teams also attended the gala weekend, who were invited to help celebrate three decades of Hockey Canada’s Program of Excellence. The 30th anniversary of Hockey Canada’s Program of Excellence comes just as Canada readies itself to host the IIHF World Junior Championship in Calgary and Edmonton, Alta., this December.
The weekend’s special guests included Olympians Kristina Groves (bobsleigh), Kaillie Humphries (bobsleigh), Heather Moyse (bobsleigh), Joannie Rochette (figure skating) and Lyndon Rush (bobsleigh). The organizing committee of this year’s gala was made up of business and community leaders from across Ottawa, such as Bernie Ashe, Slyvie Bigras, Brian Bockstael, Jonathan Bodden, Tony Dunn, John Jarvis, Geoff Moore, Peter O’Leary, Jim Orban Sr., Dave Ready, Michael Runia and Nathan Smith, along with Canada’s National Men’s Team alumnus and event manager Chris Bright (Calgary, Alta.).
The capital city’s new Rink of Dreams will operate annually from mid-November to the end of March, as a partnership among the Hockey Canada Foundation, the Sens Foundation and the City of Ottawa, and as a place for future generations of athletes to ignite their own fire within for Canada’s favourite pastime.
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