|Ryan Potulny passes an autograph to a fan at CFB Edmonton.
(photo by Andy Devlin / Edmonton Oilers Hockey Club)
The spirit of Canadian hockey was in the air on Sunday, February 28. At the same time as Team Canada took to the ice against Team USA for the Men’s Hockey Olympic Gold Medal Match, two minor hockey teams from the Canadian Military Base in Edmonton took to the ice for a hockey clinic with Oilers staff members. The base is home to a minor hockey association that is available to children who have parents serving in the military.
“So many of our families have one and in some cases two parents that are deployed on missions in either in Afghanistan or Haiti,” said Base Commander Tom Bradley. “This is a great chance for the kids to relax and practice some skills.”
Parents, players, coaches, military personnel and Oilers staff all congregated in the lobby of the Twin Rinks Complex on the Garrison Grounds to watch the final minutes of the game. The entire team erupted with loud cheers when Sidney Crosby scored for Team Canada in overtime.
The day was a moment in history for hockey in Canada and a day to remember for the Pee Wee and Bantam teams that were a part of the Oilers hockey clinic. Each player that attended received an Oilers jersey to wear during the camp and everyone left with some cool Oilers giveaways. Special guests Oilers forward Ryan Potulny and Oilers alumni and two-time Stanley Cup winner Dave Lumley attended the skills camp to share their passion for the game and sign autographs following the practice.
“The kids had huge smiles on their faces,” said Ryan Potulny. “That’s what really matters. I know when I was a kid participating in a hockey clinic and anyone would come around, it was always really exciting.”
Nearly forty players aged 11 to 14 were put through a skill development practice that focused on skating, shooting, puck control and passing. “We had a wide range of skill levels out there today,” said Dave Lumley. “I was really impressed. With the amount of ice-time that they had, we saw some big improvements.”
“It was really fitting when one of the participants called us Brother in Arms,” said Ryan Potulny. “We’re in this together and it’s important that the Oilers show our support for these families.”