WINDSOR, N.S. — Hockey fans are hoping for a cold spell as January comes to a close so that the seventh annual Long Pond Hockey Heritage Classic will go ahead as scheduled.
The classic, which serves as the primary fundraiser for the Windsor Hockey Heritage Society, offers people the chance to rub elbows with hockey legends while playing shinny on outdoor ice.
The games, held at Long Pond on the Dill Family Farm — the site Windsor claims as being the Birthplace of Hockey — on Jan. 27, are free for the public to watch, but people pay to play. The festivities conclude with a banquet held that evening at King's-Edgehill School.
“We always look forward to lots of people coming out and watching the games on the ice. It was the way hockey was originally played and we love to get back on the pond at the Dill farm,” said Trina Norman, the president of the Windsor Hockey Heritage Society.
“For me, personally, it's hearing the skates on the ice, hearing the sound they make when they cut across the ice. It's something that you just don't hear in an arena.”
Retired National Hockey League players Ron Duguay, a 12-year NHL veteran and Bryan Trottier, a seven time Stanley Cup winner, will be the special guests of honour this year.
Trottier holds the NHL record for points in a single period — he scored four goals and added two assists — and is one of only eight NHL players to have recorded multiple five-goal games. Over his regular career, Trottier scored 524 goals and collected 901 assists. During his six Stanley Cup wins as a player (he added a seventh Stanley Cup win as an assistant coach), he scored 71 times and collected another 113 assists.
Duguay, who was named in recent years as one of the 100 greatest New York Rangers to ever play for the team, totalled 620 career points in 12 years in the NHL. He scored 274 goals while adding 31 additional markers in NHL playoff action.
“We're presenting different celebrities who bring a uniqueness of their own to the classic every year,” said Dan Boyd, the chairperson of this year's Long Pond Hockey Heritage Classic.
“They can still play hockey, make no mistake about that.”
Over the years, they've attracted the likes of Guy Lafleur, Ray Bourque, Ric Nattress, Stephane Richer and Mike Krushelnyski to participate in the event.
The classic is the largest fundraiser for the Windsor Hockey Heritage Society, and helps keep the museum open.
“We do two fundraisers each year, this and the golf tournament, but this is by far the biggest fundraiser that we have,” said Norman. “It's what keeps the museum going; it helps us pay staff, helps us make the odd acquisition here and there.”
Boyd said over the last two years, about 4,200 people visited the hockey heritage museum at Haliburton House, some coming from as far away as Iran and England.
“The classic helps us raise funds so we can continue to operate the museum. We're fortunate enough to have a summer student but we can't operate the way we do, from June until mid-October, on student summer hours. We still require the help of the community in order to do that,” said Boyd.
“We believe with people coming in like that, they're spending money elsewhere in the Town of Windsor and West Hants.”
Norman, a Toronto Maple Leafs fan, said the classic is the perfect event for any hockey player or fan to attend.
“I love hockey, I always have. I played on a Windsor girls team when I was a teenager. I can't remember life without hockey. We watched it as kids with our parents. It was a big thing on Saturday nights to watch the game,” said Norman.
As in prior years, there will be several chances to meet the NHL stars and get their autographs.
“For me, meeting any NHLer is worth the wait,” said Norman.
There are still a few seats left at the banquet. For more information about the fundraiser, visit www.LongPondClassic.com.