Greeted by diehard hockey fans, the celebrated tour makes its way into the heart of central Ontario
On its second stop of Season 4, the Rogers Hometown HockeyTM Tour rolled into Haliburton, Ont., during the weekend of October 14 and 15. Thousands of people came out to enjoy live entertainment, local celebrities, NHL® alumni, family activities and an outdoor viewing party of a live NHL® game featuring the Boston Bruins and Vegas Golden Knights. Grey skies and cool rain couldn’t even dampen the enthusiasm of hockey fans who checked out all the Rogers Hometown Hockey offerings taking place at Head Lake Park.
“We’re up from Whitby,” said Jason Walker. “My son, Sawyer, had a game against the local Haliburton hockey team. We came out here and wanted to take part in the festivities. Despite the rain, there’s a ton of great activities for the kids to take part in. We got a couple autographs – it was fantastic!”
That’s a sentiment echoed by emcee Kyle Buttenham: “Everyone (in Haliburton) has been so welcoming and kind,” he said. “When you come into a town like this and get that kind of reception, it’s really special to all of us. Everyone had a great time.”
It wasn’t only fans who enjoyed the memorable experiences, including the Fan Hub, showcasing innovative and interactive experiences, virtual autographs from NHL® stars, a hockey-themed Zamboni video game and autograph meet-and-greets with former NHL® players. Bernie Nicholls, who played with six NHL® teams during a career that began in 1981, was born in Haliburton and grew up in the nearby hamlet of West Guilford. The former big-league standout was thrilled to be back home, signing autographs.
“It’s an unbelievable hockey town,” said Nicholls, who recorded 1,209 points in 1,127 regular season NHL® games. “I’ve always said with things like this, it’s great for the kids. I tell them, ‘Dream big. I made it; you can, too.’ That’s what makes this so exciting for me, the impact it will have on young girls and boys.”
Former big-leaguer Cody Hodgson, who played hockey with current NHL® star Matt Duchene when they were kids growing up in Haliburton, was proud to have Rogers Hometown Hockey make a stop in his community. “What makes it special is the opportunity it gives Haliburton,” said Hodgson, who skated in 328 NHL® games before retiring last fall. “The rest of Canada gets to see the passion we have here in town for hockey. The people were always supportive of my hockey career and it all started in Haliburton.”
Visit hometownhockey.com to find out if the Rogers Hometown Hockey Tour is coming to a community near you and be sure to tune in every Sunday on SportsnetTM.