Pla­cen­tia to welcome NHL alumni

Group will play ex­hi­bi­tion game with lo­cal team

The Compass - - SPORTS - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER

If you’re a fan of the Na­tional Hockey League, chances are you’ve dreamt about play­ing on the same ice as your hockey he­roes.

Maybe you’ve thought of what it would be like to streak down the left wing and cor­ral a pass from a pro­fes­sional. Ei­ther way, it’s been your dream to play with or against them.

Now, a group of hockey alumni in Pla­cen­tia are go­ing to get their chance to do just that when they take to the ice for a matchup with a group of NHL alumni in an ex­hi­bi­tion match be­ing held at the Unity PARC Arena on Oct. 14.

“We put to­gether a lo­cal team,” said Pla­cen­tia Mayor Wayne Power. “It is a mix­ture of older play­ers and some play­ers who re­cently grad­u­ated from the lo­cal mi­nor hockey sys­tem.

“A lot of lo­cal play­ers jumped at the op­por­tu­nity to play against them.”

It isn’t the first time NHL alumni have skated at rinks in the Trin­ity-Conception-Pla­cen­tia re­gion. In 2014, a group par­tic­i­pated in a game at the Bay Arena in Bay Roberts, while the S.W. Moores Me­mo­rial Sta­dium in Har­bour Grace has wel­comed both the Bos­ton Bru­ins alumni and Mon­treal Cana­di­ans alumni in re­cent years.

A strong lineup

It will be no easy task for the lo­cal team to get a win over the alumni. They’ll be bring­ing with them of the top-5 de­fence­men of all time in Ray Bourque.

Ac­cord­ing to Steve Wal­ton, NHL Le­gends tour pres­i­dent, the 19-time NHL all-star is in “wicked shape” and will cut­ting around the Pla­cen­tia ice in fine form.

Along with Bourque, the NHL team will fea­ture the likes of Al Iafrate, Dennis Maruk, Gary Lee­man, Mathieu Dan­de­nault and Dar­ius Kas­parai­tus, just to name a few.

“We have quite the com­bi­na­tion of golden era hockey le­gends,” said Wal­ton. “They’ll be putting on a show.”

“There is a lot of ex­cite­ment as we get closer to the date,” said Power. “It should be a good evening. There will be time for au­to­graphs.” The NHL Le­gends tour gets started in Deer Lake and hits a cou­ple of spots on the is­land be­fore reach­ing Pla­cen­tia this week.

“This will be our first time in Pla­cen­tia,” said Wal­ton. “We looked at com­ing (to Pla­cen­tia) be­fore, but the tim­ing never worked out.

“We’re look­ing for­ward to it.”

Money con­cerns

When last the group vis­ited the Trin­ity-Conception-Pla­cen­tia re­gion in Bay Roberts in March of 2014, the event was well-re­ceived by the fans and the com­mu­nity as a whole, but Bay Roberts lost up­wards to $13,000 when all the bills had been paid.

“Those were some of the con­cerns we had as well,” said Power. “With the ar­range­ment we have worked out, we’re hop­ing those wor­ries won’t be there.”

Apart from see­ing the some­times tucked away beauty of the province, the alumni most look for­ward to in­ter­act­ing with the adults and see­ing the chil­dren’s re­ac­tions to meet­ing play­ers they’ve only heard their par­ents talk about.

“The kids are No. 1,” said Wal­ton. “When we see the smiles on the faces of the kids, it’s great. Some of these play­ers re­tired be­fore these kids were born, but their faces light up like they’re see­ing Sid­ney Crosby.

“I don’t know who cries more, the par­ents or the kids. See the smiles make it all worth it for the guys.”

“It is go­ing to be a great sea­son opener to kick fof the hockey sea­son in Pla­cen­tia,” said Power.

The event is sched­uled to start at 7 p.m. and will be fol­lowed by a re­cep­tion with the play­ers. Tick­ets are needed for both events.

For more in­for­ma­tion, con­tact the Pla­cen­tia town hall at (709) 227-2151.

COM­PASS FILE PHOTO

The last time a group of NHL Alumni were in town, Dennis Maruk got in goal for a game against a lo­cal squirt di­vi­sion team. Per­haps Maruk, who will be in Pla­cen­tia on Wed­nes­day, will pull a sim­i­lar trick.

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