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Hockey Day

Kenora is epicenter of Hockey Day in Canada

Northwest Ontario town to get visit by Stanley Cup, NHL Centennial Fan Arena

by Tim Campbell @TimNHL / Staff Writer

Hockey royalty will be joined by the biggest prize in the NHL, the Stanley Cup, when Kenora, Ontario, becomes the headquarters for Scotiabank Hockey Day in Canada celebrations on Saturday.

Ron MacLean and Don Cherry, hosts of the Coach's Corner segment on "Hockey Night in Canada," will air their regular Saturday segment from Kenora.

All seven Canada-based NHL teams play Saturday, and four games will be televised as part of more than 13 hours of Hockey Day in Canada programming on "Hockey Night in Canada."

The Montreal Canadiens host the Winnipeg Jets (2 p.m. ET; CBC, TVA Sports, SN, NHL.TV), the Edmonton Oilers visit the Chicago Blackhawks (7 p.m. ET; NHLN, SN, WGN, NHL.TV), the Ottawa Senators visit the Toronto Maple Leafs (7 p.m. ET; CBC, TVA Sports, NHL.TV) and the Calgary Flames visit the Vancouver Canucks (10 p.m. ET; CBC, SN, NHL.TV).

MacLean and Cherry will share the Hockey Day in Canada spotlight in the northwestern Ontario city with Hockey Hall of Fame members Lanny McDonald and Bryan Trottier and former NHL players Darcy Tucker, Mark Napier and Mike Richards, a Kenora native. The full slate of activities began with an official faceoff at the Lake of the Woods Discovery Centre on Wednesday.

Enhancing Hockey Day in Canada celebrations this year in Kenora will be the NHL Centennial Fan Arena. The interactive traveling fan experience will visit all 31 NHL cities this year as part of the League's Centennial celebrations.

The NHL Centennial Fan Arena, which features a 53-foot museum truck, an entertainment truck with a giant video screen, the Clear The Ice Zamboni VR Experience and the Stanley Cup, will be located at the Whitecap Pavilion and Kenora's Harbourfront, and will be open 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.

Kenora is the first non-NHL team community to be visited by the NHL Centennial Fan Arena, which already has traveled to Toronto, Arizona, Dallas, San Jose, Anaheim, Los Angeles and St. Louis.

"As an old [Toronto Maple] Leafs fan, I'm so excited to see the David Keon and Johnny Bower images on the outside of those trucks alone," Kenora Hockey Day In Canada organizing committee chair Dan Reynard said. "And of course all the great content of this Centennial fan experience. I can't wait to see it all."

Reynard said more than a year of planning has been put into the Hockey Day in Canada activities in Kenora.

"We sent some people to observe it in Kamloops (British Columbia) last year, and we've been working with the people from 'Hockey Night in Canada' and Scotiabank ever since," he said.

One of the highlights of the Hockey Day in Canada celebrations in Kenora will be a re-enactment of the 1907 Stanley Cup victory by the Kenora Thistles against the Montreal Wanderers. That re-enactment game is scheduled to take place on an outdoor rink on Safety Bay, the town's main harbor, on Saturday morning.

In a period between 1893 and 1914, the champions of Canada's amateur leagues challenged each other for the Cup, sometimes more than once a season.

Kenora, then an important railroad and gold-mining community, had help with the addition of future Hockey Hall of Fame member Art Ross to take the Cup from the Wanderers in January 1907.

Another headline event for Hockey Day in Canada will be the Kroppy Cup, a pond hockey tournament for three divisions of players (peewee and bantam, midget, and old-timers) to be played on six outdoor rinks made on the lake at Golf Course Bay near Anicinabe Park.

The Kroppy Cup championship games in each division will be played on the rink on Safety Bay on Saturday afternoon.

The tournament is named for World War II veteran and long-time Kenora resident Len Kropioski, a popular Winnipeg Jets season-ticket holder who died at the age of 98 on Sept. 13, 2016.

Hockey Day in Canada action in Kenora also will include an alumni game between the Kenora Thistles and former NHL players at the Kenora Recreation Centre on Thursday. McDonald and Tucker have been chosen as team captains for the game, which will include Richards, Napier and former NHL goalie Rick St. Croix.

The Kenora Recreation Centre also will be the site of two regional league games Saturday. There will be a Manitoba AAA Midget game between the Kenora Thistles and Interlake Lightning, and a Superior International Junior Hockey League game between the Fort Frances Lakers and English River Miners.

The Miners have unveiled special jerseys for the game to honor Cherry's flamboyant wardrobe with colors of black, gold and white with grey stripes. Their jerseys also include a poppy to pay tribute to members of the military.

The Kenora Recreation Centre also will host a sledge hockey demonstration and free trial participation session Saturday morning.

Development personnel from the Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets will conduct three hockey clinics each during the week of Hockey Day in Canada. They will be held at the Keewatin Memorial Arena on Thursday, the Kenora Recreation Centre on Friday and on the outdoor rink on Safety Bay on Saturday.

The Stanley Cup will make the rounds of the Kenora region Thursday and Friday, appearing at two schools and a senior center.

"We've tried to reach out to all age groups so everybody can participate in the Hockey Day in Canada event," Reynard said. "After Friday's school visit, we had hoped to keep the visit to the Pinecrest Home for the Aged as a surprise. But it's tough to keep a secret in a small town."

Among the official ceremonies Saturday is the Grand Entry at the Whitecap Pavilion. It will include traditional native dancers, drummers, chiefs and elders from Kenora Chiefs Advisory and the Grand Council Treaty No. 3.

The city will also host a Hockey Day in Canada gala dinner Friday night.

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