Hockey history is Trail history so it is only fitting that Hockey Canada and it’s cross-country Century Tour will visit the Silver City on Wednesday and Thursday as part of its year-long celebration marking 100 years of hockey in Canada.
“We have a lot of history here, and minor hockey week originated here, so it’s not unfair that Trail would be on the list,” said Greater Trail Minor Hockey president Donal Park.
When the tour was officially announced earlier this summer, the Trail Times and the City of Trail lobbied Hockey Canada to include the Home of Champions on its lengthy tour route.
“Certainly we have a strong affiliation with Trail from a national team perspective and club teams representing us internationally from Trail, but also from a hosting perspective as we’ve been there for both sledge hockey and the Junior A Challenge, so we’re certainly very familiar with the community and think it will be a fantastic community to go to, to celebrate the game,” Hockey Canada director of events, Dean MacIntosh, told the Times.
Trail was selected as one of just four B.C. Cities on its 2014 tour route, and is the only Kootenay stop on the tour before it heads east for Red Deer, and eventually winding up the first half of the tour in Toronto and Montreal for the World Junior Hockey Championships Dec. 26 to Jan. 5.
Earlier this month the caravan stopped in Kamloops for the Four-Nations Cup tournament Nov. 4-8, Kelowna Nov. 10-12, and Richmond Nov. 14-17, with its 28th layover at the Trail Memorial Centre on Wednesday.
“I was at the one in Kamloops, and I mean it was awesome,” said former GTMHA president Mark Ballarin. “They have a big trailer, and you walk in and the first thing that pops out is they had the ‘61 Smokies, it was unreal.”
The 20-foot-long caravan includes a state-of-the-art interactive timeline of milestone hockey moments and artifacts, a one-third scale synthetic ice rink for visitors to play on, programs and activities specifically developed for youngsters, unique Team Canada jerseys and other hockey paraphernalia, and a celebration of both Team Canada and local community hockey leaders. Appropriately enough, the large display and rink will be set up in front of the ‘61 Smokies Mural in the Trail Memorial Centre parking lot.
In addition, GTMHA in conjunction with Hockey Canada will present the Canadian Tire Hero of Play award to a very deserving Greater Trail individual known for their dedication, passion, and countless hours of ‘behind-the-scenes’ support for the sport of hockey within their community.
Hockey Canada is also seeking volunteers to help with the celebration, and have contacted GTMHA in hopes of recruiting helpers 18-years-old and up.
The tour began in Ottawa on Canada Day and will hit approximately 100 cities across Canada, winding up in May of 2015, while celebrating its 100th year by bringing the excitement, history, and energy of Canadian hockey to minor hockey fans.
In addition to the cross-country tour, a special centenary book entitled “It’s Our Game: celebrating 100 years of Hockey Canada” accompanies the celebration and was released last month.
The 400-page tome includes a forward by Wayne Gretzky and chronicles the 100 greatest moments in Hockey Canada history with a full chapter dedicated to the ‘61 Trail Smoke Eaters and a nod to the ‘39 Smokies in chapter 17.
An excerpt from chapter 30, ‘The Trail Smoke Eaters of 1961 and the End of An Era,’ will appear in Wednesday’s Trail Times.
The Century tour will be in Trail Wednesday and Thursday, however, hours of activation have yet to be determined.