At the same time, I told my players we have to remember one thing -- especially the young players making a push -- it’s going to be a big event and you already see the fans and everything. - Bob Hartley
SYLVAN LAKE, AB -- It’s not quite home, but it’s close.
It’s not uncommon for Calgary Flames forward Curtis Glencross to spend some time in Sylvan Lake. After all, the 31-year-old does maintain residency in the small resort community sandwiched between Calgary and Edmonton.
So it might seem a little like home ice advantage for Glencross when his Calgary Flames welcome the Arizona Coyotes to Sylvan Lake Arena in the 2014 Kraft Hockeyville contest.
“It’ll be a cool little atmosphere,” Glencross said. “I think only 1200 or 1400 get tickets to the game. It’ll be fun and exciting for Sylvan Lake, that’s for sure.”
Sylvan Lake beat out 15 other Canadian communities for the right to host Hockeyville this year. Along with an NHL preseason game featuring the Flames and Coyotes on Wednesday, the community has enjoyed alumni appearances and has been treated to youth clinics and officials clinics.
The lakeside community will also receive $100,000 in arena upgrade money.
It’s much needed, too.
Hockeyville will be a tone in the town that is a 180 degree swing from a snowy January morning when the roof on Sylvan Lake Arena collapsed.
“I’ve seen pictures of it,” Glencross said. “I was actually up in Red Deer that weekend and heard the rumors of the rink falling down and actually seen it. It’s too bad. It was an old barn. We’re just lucky no one got hurt when it did fall down. They’ll put that money to good use and put another facility up.”
The old one remains up in Sylvan, just feet from where the Flames and Coyotes will do battle.
It serves as a symbol of not only once was, but a reminder of the way the community pulled together in order to not only win, but pull of Hockeyville, Kris Russell said.
“It shows the way they came together and raised all that money and get all those votes because they had to win those votes to get this game,” said Russell, who, growing up in the neighboring community of Caroline, AB frequented hockey trips to Sylvan Lake growing up.
“They came together as a community. I think the surrounding small towns helped them out as well so it’s good to see.”
It’s tough for Glencross to see the rink, though, roof caved and desolate behind chain-link fence to quarantine off the area. After all, he’s one of a few NHLers who used to use the old barn as a tune-up before heading to Calgary camps.
“We used to have all our summer skating out there in Sylvan,” Glencross said. “That building was old and very small ice sheet. We started skating, getting back going with the pro guys and that, we only played 4-on-4 because we couldn’t play 5-on-5. There wasn’t enough room out there.
“They were due for a new rink there, for sure.”
FOCUS ON FOCUS
It’s not all fun in games for the Flames at Hockeyville, however.
With Calgary in the full swing of preseason, coach Bob Hartley cautioned his crew that while there’s a special significance to the Sylvan Lake contest, focus needs to be elsewhere as well.
“I think it’s a great day,” Hartley started. “It’s a great contest. Kraft, with the NHL, they’ve put on quite a show and in order to be declared Hockeyville, you have to put in a huge effort as a community. We’re very proud to be in Sylvan Lake and I’m sure it’s the same for the Arizona Coyotes.
“At the same time, I told my players we have to remember one thing -- especially the young players making a push -- it’s going to be a big event and you already see the fans and everything. The evaluation process continues on. You have to remain focused.”
It’s something Glencross has stressed to his teammates.
“You’ve got to treat it like a preseason game,” he asid. “There’s guys on both teams looking for jobs. We’re going to come out and compete. At the end of the day, you still want to win the hockey game.”
RAYMOND ON THE MEND
Mason Raymond, originally expected to play on a line with Sven Baertschi and Joe Colborne against the Coyotes, will not suit up in the preseason game.
“He’s day-to-day,” Hartley said. “We’ll start (with) lower body.”
Morgan Klimchuk is expected to dress in his place.
The game will be broadcast on CBC, Sportsnet 360 and the NHL Network (TV) as well as Sportsnet 960 The Fan (radio) starting at 5 p.m. MST.