Hockey Day in Canada comes to Lloydminster

Saturday, 01.18.2014 / 3:00 AM
Adam Kimelman  - Deputy Managing Editor

For its annual Scotiabank Hockey Day in Canada celebration on Jan. 18, the CBC is holding events in two provinces and one city.

Yes, you read that right.

Welcome to Lloydminster, which has the Alberta/Saskatchewan border running through the middle of the city.

"The meridian for it ... 50th Street goes right through town," said Philadelphia Flyers forward Scott Hartnell, who grew up in Lloydminster. "It's weird how it's set up. If there's a bar or restaurant on the Saskatchewan side you have to be 19 to drink; if there's a bar or restaurant on the Alberta side you have to be 18 to drink. All the schooling, even if there's a school on the Alberta side, it's Saskatchewan schooling, their curriculum. The hockey rink is on the Saskatchewan side but you play Alberta teams. There's a lot of tricky things to it."

Hartnell grew up on the Alberta side of town, as did Ottawa Senators forward Clarke MacArthur.

"It's a great place to grow up in," MacArthur said. "Obviously hockey is the No. 1 thing to do with the 11 months of winter you get there, so it's a lot of fun. Scotty [Hartnell] and I have had our charity event in Lloydminster the last three years; before that it was Wade Redden and Cory Cross. It's been a great place to grow up. I've had a lot of friends come out of there and a lot still living there."

The charity event MacArthur referred to is an annual golf tournament hosted by Hartnell, MacArthur and Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby in Lloydminster each June. It attracts a number of current and former hockey players as well as other sports celebrities and local luminaries to raise money for local charities.

Hockey Day in Canada is turning its focus on the town. Among the events scheduled is a Winter Festival with indoor and outdoor activities, a Hockey Hall of Fame exhibit at the Lloydminster Exhibition Grounds featuring NHL trophies and artifacts; and a ball hockey game at 50th Avenue and 50th Street, with a team from the Alberta side of town "defending its province" against a team from the Saskatchewan side.

The centerpiece of the day will be the Centennial Civic Centre, home of the Lloydminster Bobcats of the Alberta Junior Hockey League. CBC's Ron MacLean and Don Cherry will host an edition of Coaches' Corner from the arena.

"It'll be a lot of fun for the people back there," said Holtby, who played his minor hockey for the Lloydminster Heat bantam AAA team and the Lloydminster Blazers of the AJHL. "Obviously it'll be exposure to the city and whatnot. Hopefully it really grows our Junior A program there. We need to start filling the seats for that team. The minor hockey, I don't think it can even get any bigger there. I think everyone plays. It'll be good for the city, good for the people to have a fun day."

Holtby said he remembered what it was like to have the big time come town, saying one of his favorite memories of his youth hockey days was when MacArthur, then a star for the Medicine Hat Tigers of the Western Hockey League, came back to Lloydminster to skate with his bantam team during the WHL's winter holiday break.

"He was a bit of a local hero at that time," Holtby said.

None of the town's current NHL alums will be in attendance for Lloydminster's big day, but they know it'll be a big event for the town.

"It's pretty cool," Hartnell said. "Lloydminster was a great place for myself to grow up. The hockey was great, summer baseball was great. It's got a couple great golf courses. Just a great place to enjoy a great childhood. A lot of great memories there. I still go back and see Mom and Dad there every summer. The city will do a great job."

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