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Live blog: The Terrace view

Monday, 09.14.2009 / 1:04 PM / Hockeyville 2009

By Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

Canucks prevail, 2-1
09.14.2009 9:45 PM PT

Much to the delight of the home crowd, the Canucks have hung on for a 2-1 win against the Islanders. For a preseason opener, it was a very entertaining game and this tremendous crowd was in the game the whole way.

Check back with NHL.com for all the latest game coverage.

It's all about the kids
09.14.2009 9:25 PM PT

Isles PR Seth Sylvan has just informed me that the club has donated 30 sets of hockey equipment to the Terrace hockey program. Great stuff.

Vancouver has just taken a 2-1 lead on another goal by Shirokov. The Russian winger collected a loose puck in the slot and batted it past Lawson to send the crowd into a frenzy.

2nd period update
09.14.2009 8:33 PM PT

Jon Sim just scored a power-play goal for the Isles to tie things up at 1-1. Sim made a nifty play in front of the net to strip the puck from a Vancouver defender and then backhand it past Andrew Raycroft at the 10:58 mark.

Both teams switched goaltenders after the tally. Cory Schneider has replaced Raycroft, while Nathan Lawson is now in for the Islanders.

Update from Terrace
09.14.2009 7:35 PM PT

We're almost midway through the first period here at Terrace Sportsplex, and Vancouver leads the Islanders, 1-0.

Sergei Shirokov broke the scorless tie via the power play just 1:45 into the game as he ripped a rebound past Scott Munroe. Vancouver was awarded a man advantage just 66 seconds into the game thanks to a hooking penalty on Andy Sutton.

It's almost time
09.14.2009 6:19 PM PT

After lining up outside the Terrace Sportsplex awaiting the game they never thought they'd get to see, fans are now piling into what will surely be a raucous facility tonight. Clearly, the people in this town have had this date circled since Terrace was named Kraft Hockeyville 2009 several months ago.

Across the street, the excitement is building at George Little Park, where the pre-game pep rally is being held. As of now, the weather is cooperating and fans are having a great time. A local high school band just finished playing on the stage that sits right next to the big-screen television that will broadcast tonight's game for fans that were unable to secure tickets.

As expected, a large portion of the fans here are decked out in Canucks gear. But there are other sweaters out there, as well. A young man in the crowd is wearing a Washington Capitals jersey with Alexander Ovechkin's name on the back. Another is showing his affection for the Chicago Blackhawks.

Really, it doesn't matter who the people are rooting for here tonight. First and foremost, they're hockey fans. They've been waiting a long time for this.

That time is about to arrive. Game on.

A magical day
09.14.2009 4:30 PM PT

It's been a memorable morning and afternoon here in Terrace, and there's still a hockey game to be played here in just a few hours.

Both the Vancouver Canucks and New York Islanders received warm welcomes from this tremendous community on Monday morning. In appreciation, both teams saluted the fans with their sticks upon the conclusion of practice.

From there, Canucks defenseman Willie Mitchell -- who will not play tonight -- and Isles forward Jeff Tambellini visited a pair of elementary schools to encourage young children to follow their dreams.

The looks coming from the kids were simply priceless. Just like their parents, they couldn't believe there were NHL players in their town. Questions ranged from, "Who is your favorite player?" to "What's it like playing in the NHL?" Mitchell and Tambellini were both kind and genuine in their answers and even took the time out at both schools to take a large group photo. They were joined by British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell, who applauded and congratulated the city of Terrace on its Kraft Hockeyville victory.

"What a fantastic opportunity for the kids," said Cory Killoran, the principal at Thornhill Elementary. "Just for these guys to show the kids where you can get to, I think it was a great opportunity. It's a wonderful experience for our town."

For me, one of the best experiences I've had on this trip was watching Maggie Ottenbreit perform both the Canadian and American national anthems at Uplands Elementary. Not only did she have the courage to get up and sing in front of her entire school -- not to mention a pair of NHL players -- but what a set of pipes on that fifth grader, too. Great job, Maggie.

There's still plenty going on before the puck drops here tonight. The pep rally is getting under way across the street at George Little Park, where fans can get revved up for tonight's game. And for those who couldn't score tickets for the game, they'll be able to watch it in the park on a large-screen television.

For those of you across the continent, don't forget you can watch all of tonight's action on CBC in Canada and on the NHL Network in the U.S.

Other notes from this morning:

-- The Islanders have a very young roster here, as coach Scott Gordon is aiming to see where some of the "bubble guys" stand.

"The way I looked at it, I wanted some of the guys to get the rust off early," Gordon said. "I thought it was a good opportunity to see some guys who are maybe new to the organization, and then also give our younger players an extra exhibition game that they might not have gotten."

-- Nathan Lawson and Scott Munroe will split the goaltending duties for the Islanders tonight, while Andrew Raycroft and Cory Schneider will do the same for Vancouver. 

-- I asked Gordon about the status of Rick DiPietro, who appeared in only five games last season. The Islanders are hoping their franchise goalie will be 100 percent shortly, but GM Garth Snow signed Dwayne Roloson and Martin Biron to hold the fort down until the No. 1 selection from 2000 is ready to go.

"Ricky's in Saskatoon, and he's skating," Gordon said. "He's not ready to play yet, but we're very happy with the progress he's made and we're excited that he hasn't had any complications."

Game day has arrived
09.14.2009 10:00 AM PT

The excitement is at an all-time high here in Terrace.

As I walked from my hotel room down the street to Terrace Sportsplex, I could hear the chants from hundreds of yards away … "TERRACE IS HOCKEYVILLE!"

Nearly every schoolchild in town is at the rink to watch the morning skates, which are set to get under way in about 40 minutes. If it's anything like Roberval last year, it will be the loudest morning skate these players have ever heard.

Don't have much info as to who is playing for the Islanders tonight, as the game sheet I've been given basically includes every player who was invited to their camp.

As for Vancouver, captain/goaltender Roberto Luongo is not here. The two goalies listed are Andrew Raycroft and Corey Schneider.

Defensemen are as follows: Kevin Bieksa, Willie Mitchell, Aaron Rome, Brad Lukowich, Nolan Baumgartner, Yann Sauve, Shane O'Brien and Evan Oberg.

Forwards: Dave Scatchard, Ronald Petrovicky, Jannik Hansen, Rick Rypien, Michael Grabner, Kyle Wellwood, Alexandre Bolduc, Eric Walsky, Guillaume Desbiens, Mario Bliznak, Pierre-Cedric Labrie and Sergei Shirokov.

Continue to check back with NHL.com for all the latest from Kraft Hockeyville. Only nine hours until the puck drops on the 2009 preseason.


Day 3

A Q&A with Dino Bianco
09.13.2009 / 1:20 PM PT

The Stanley Cup Jamboree is still going on and has to be considered a smashing success. Live music, great food and, of course, the most prestigious trophy in all of sports is in attendance at George Little Park.

I was able to meet the mayor of Terrace today, Mr. Dave Pernarowski, who was kind enough to take a few minutes to speak with me. That story should be posted momentarily.

Everyone here is obviously excited, including Kraft Canada president Dino Bianco. He, too, was gracious enough to speak with me today.

NHL.com: Talk about this competition … it seems to have grown by leaps and bounds over the last few years, right?

DB: Yeah, it's a thrill. We had over 7,000 entries last year and 9,000,000 votes in total. Terrace, being the winner, almost got 2,000,000 of those votes. It's a great event. This is our fourth year. Us and our partners continue to be very committed to it. CBC has been great and the NHL and the NHLPA have been great. We're all very much aligned with connecting with our consumers in the community. Many of the players grew up in communities like this, so it's a great combination for us to come and give back to the community and leave them with memories that will last a lifetime. It's more than just hockey. It's about a community coming together.

NHL.com: Whose idea was Kraft Hockeyville originally and how were you able to get it off the ground?

DB: Jack Hewitt, who is the VP of Marketing Services, and myself are hockey nuts and hockey dads. We're hockey fans and we've had this relationship with hockey for a long time. We wondered, how do we turn this into something a little different? How do we turn it into something that's really unique? We wanted to make a big splash, so we started talking about it. It's one of those things that we started mulling around. Jack said, "What if we had a hockey game in these communities?" We thought, no way we'll get that done. We tried to pursue it and started talking to our partners. It built and built and built and just got momentum. Great ideas always attract a lot of support and attention, and this was exactly that. It was a great idea that turned into a magnificent event.

NHL.com: It seems as if the partnership between the NHL and Kraft has been a match made in heaven since the start, right?

DB: Absolutely. I think the timing was very good. I know the NHL wanted to give back to the communities coming off the (work stoppage). We came up to them with this idea, and they thought it was perfect. The players grew up in these towns. It just worked. Everybody had a strategic alignment and a vision and it's worked well. Hat's off to all of our partners -- they've been great.

NHL.com: There's a big similarity between this year and last year as the Montreal Canadiens were able to go to Roberval and now the Vancouver Canucks are coming to Terrace. That has to be a thrill for these people, right?

DB: Absolutely. For many of these fans -- particularly the young ones -- it's probably the first time they're going to see an NHL hockey game, and it may be the last time they're going to see an NHL hockey game. And with what the NHL alumni are doing here, it's spectacular. These will be memories that this community and the individuals will have for the rest of their lives. We said to the community members, "Have fun. This is something that is your moment, so enjoy it."

A word from the fans
09.13.2009 7:45 AM PT

The intensity of Kraft Hockeyville has really picked up today. NHL alumni Ken Morrow, Bryan Trottier, Cliff Ronning and Dave Babych kicked off the morning by instructing clinics at the Terrace Sportsplex. In just a little while, they'll visit some children at the local hospital before the Stanley Cup arrives at George Little Park.

I want to share an e-mail I received yesterday from Terrace native Victor Basanti. I think it's a prime example of the passion the folks here have for the sport.

Dear Brian,

Welcome to beautiful Terrace, BC. I am enjoying your blog at NHL.com. I grew up in Terrace but have been living in Toronto for the past 6 years. As fate would have it, I have returned to Terrace this summer and will be here to experience the pandemonium for Hockeyville.

I wanted to share my unique Hockeyville story with you. Growing up in Terrace, our Christmas holidays were spent glued to the television to watch the World Junior Hockey Tournament as a family. This has been our tradition since I can remember. Two Christmas holidays ago, a few of us flew to Paradubice to watch the World Junior Hockey Tournament live for the first time. We were excited to be in the Czech Republic to cheer for our country and enjoy the experience of the tournament. Never in my wildest dreams did I think it would be a trip of a lifetime.

For the games, we would dress up in our Canada gear and sit directly behind the Team Canada bench. At the end of the Slovakia game, as the team walked past us to get to the locker room, John Tavares poked me in the chest with his hockey stick. At first I was shocked, but then I realized he was giving me his hockey stick. As I reached for the stick, another hand grabbed it. It was my cousin, Herman. We tugged on it for a bit and then John suggested, "If it is left (I shoot left) it's yours, and if it is right (he shoots right), it's his."

We both looked down with excitement and sure enough, it was left. You can imagine the shock on my face receiving such a precious gift from a projected superstar at that time. It was even more scary trying to leave the rink to go to the hotel without being stopped or thinking I would get mugged.

At the hotel we hid the stick as best as we could where it would be safe. After the gold medal win and a late night of partying with the Swedish and Russian hockey teams, I had a long flight back to Toronto, via New York. I was not allowed to carry the stick on board, so I had to check it in. In New York I had to collect my luggage, re-enter security and get to my gate to make my flight back to Toronto. After the long ordeal of re-checking, I had to take a train to a different terminal in order to make my flight. While standing on the platform waiting for the train, I noticed a young girl looking at the hockey stick and walking over to her mother and whispering something. The lady looked over at me and walked in my direction. I was confused as I did not know her. She said hello and asked where I got the stick. I told her I was in Paradubice watching Canada play and a player named John Tavares gave me his stick. She smiled and told me that stick was the only one he handed out and that the Hockey Hall of Fame was upset that he gave it away. I asked her how she knew that, and she told me that John was her son.

As it turned out, we were on the same flight back to Toronto. We ended up missing our connecting flight and had dinner together at the airport while we waited for the next flight. During this time John called and they told me about themselves and stories about John. When it came time for our flight we made our way to the gate. When we got to the gate there was only 1 seat left. Barbara and Joe suggested that I take the seat since there were 4 of them. I never did get a chance to say thank you.

Here I am, two years later on the other side of this country, in this beautiful remote town of Terrace, where I have not been back for eight years. Never in my wildest dreams did I think an NHL game would be played here, but more importantly would a player who I created a special memory for me as a hockey fan would be here in my hometown. I hope the Tavares family will be here so I can have a chance to say thank you to them for their hospitality and dinner. What better way to repay them than in my hometown of Terrace.

Cheers,
Victor


Day 2 update

09.12.2009 / 12:30 PM PT


Greetings again from Terrace, where Kraft Hockeyville festivities will really get under way this afternoon.

I'm hoping to land an interview with former NHL defenseman Ken Morrow, who won four Stanley Cup championships with the New York Islanders and was also a member of the gold-winning U.S. Olympic team in 1980. Morrow is slated to arrive here in just a couple of hours. I hope to post that story later today.

I've also been invited to the Local Organizing Committee Dinner tonight, which I'm really looking forward to. I'm sure I'll get to meet all of the people who worked so hard for so long to make this event become a reality in their town.

Morrow, Bryan Trottier, Dave Babych and Cliff Ronning -- all former NHL players -- will instruct youth clinics in the morning and later visit a local hospital. The Stanley Cup will also be on display in the afternoon before NHL officials arrive to hold a clinic of their own.

Make sure to check back with NHL.com for all the latest news from Kraft Hockeyville.

I've finally arrived!
09.11.2009 / 3:59 PM PT

It took close to 12 hours, but I have arrived in Terrace, British Columbia to cover all of the festivities that Kraft Hockeyville has to offer this weekend and through Monday night.

Things really kick off tomorrow with a street festival, although the weather isn't cooperating at the moment, and it may not all weekend. However, I find it hard to believe that a little precipitation will dampen the spirits of anyone around these parts.

Anyway, highlights of today's trip were:

-- As we boarded the plane from Newark, N.J., for Vancouver, a young female claimed someone was sitting in her seat. Before the argument intensified, an Air Canada representative looked at the female's boarding pass and said, "This plane isn't going to Toronto."

Man, that would have stunk.

-- Vancouver's airport is pretty cool. It's actually reminiscent of the Museum of Natural History in Manhattan. Always nice to keep the little kids occupied when flights are delayed.

-- The flight from Vancouver to Terrace was breathtaking. From start to finish, it's mountains and glaciers. Beautiful.

Well, that's all for now. It's time for me to rest up before the real fun begins tomorrow. Make sure to check back with NHL.com for all the latest details from Kraft Hockeyville 2009.
Quote of the Day

I'm hoping Bob [Murray] didn't go out and get Dany Heatley just to get someone. I'm sure he's excited and motivated.

— Anaheim Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau on general manager Bob Murray's decision to sign Dany Heatley